Dear Disability Community Members,
Well, it has now been ten weeks since the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency was declared. The City of Boston and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts are beginning to move from the “response” phase” to the “recovery” phase of municipal operations.
As many of you know, yesterday Governor Baker announced his plans to re-open the Commonwealth. Today, Mayor Walsh talked about reopening Boston. We were given a lot of information, and sometimes it can be hard to figure out what the takeaway pieces are, so here are a few of the important points we think the disability community should be aware of:
- The data tells us that we have been moving in the right direction on new cases, positive test rates, and hospitalizations
- The data still gives a reason for caution, in terms of how gradually we should move forward with reopening
- The precautions we have taken so far have been working, and there is potential for new outbreaks if we don’t keep doing the right things
- While the stay at home advisory is no longer in effect, the overall belief is that it is still safer to stay at home
Mayor Walsh urged everyone to continue doing the things that are making a difference in slowing the spread of the virus. So even though we know this is difficult, we are still asking people to take the following actions:
- Stay at home, except for necessary trips to the store or to attend religious services
- Work from home if possible, especially if you are older or at high risk for illness
- Wash your hands frequently, and disinfect surfaces in your home
- Cover your face outside, inside stores, and in houses of worship
While writing this message, I listened to the Mayor’s press conference and found that he said it best: “Our goal is not to return to what existed before– but to build a more equitable and resilient city for the future”. Through our Health Inequities Task Force, the City is looking at the ways in which COVID has disproportionately impacted certain groups and using that data to inform our planning moving forward.
On that note, we have been hearing a lot lately about the “new normal.” In fact, the last step of the Governor’s reopening plan is even called “New Normal.” While many people have been focusing on the word “normal,” I encourage each of us to focus on the word “new” instead – What new things have you learned about yourself? What new skills have you acquired? What new things do you appreciate?
During all the phases of re-opening, our office will continue to be here for you for support. This isn’t going to be an easy process, but you can be assured that my office will be working closely with City officials to ensure that people with disabilities remain a top priority as we move forward.
Please reach out to us if you need assistance. You can dial 311 to reach City Hall, or call us at 617-635-3682. Our email is [email protected], and the latest updates are available at Boston.gov.
Until next week, please stay informed, stay home, and stay healthy.
Commissioner Kristen McCosh
Contact Department: Disabilities Commission
Publish Date: Wed, 05/20/2020 – 2:38pm