Covid-19 News

Equity must be driving force of ongoing Mass. public health policy

Letter to the Boston Globe, February 14, 2023, by Dr. Lara Jirmanus, Carlene Pavlos and Paul Lanzikos

Regarding “The White House wants to end the public health emergency. Is the country prepared?” (Editorial, Feb. 9), we should ask, “Is the Commonwealth prepared?” How our elected leaders answer that question will tell us whether they are serious about ending the ongoing devastation of the COVID-19 pandemic, preparing for the inevitable next pandemic, and committing to equity as an anchoring principle and driving force in all policies.

Massachusetts must address persisting inequities and staggering COVID-19 death rates (more than 22,000 in total and nearly 4,700 Massachusetts COVID-19 deaths since the start of 2022), borne disproportionately by older adults, chronically ill and disabled people, and Black and brown communities. The state of emergency has provided critical resources (health care, paid sick leave, telehealth insurance coverage, and free COVID tests, treatments, vaccines, and masks), which we should maintain and expand. Two principles must guide everything: “Nothing about us without us,” historically the disability community’s clarion call, and Representative Ayanna Pressley’s insistence that “the people closest to the pain, should be the people closest to the power.”

We are eager to support the Healey-Driscoll administration and legislators in translating pandemic lessons into transformational changes necessary to create a continuously thriving Commonwealth.

  • Dr. Lara Jirmanus, Massachusetts Coalition for Health Equity
  • Carlene Pavlos, Massachusetts Public Health Association, Boston
  • Paul Lanzikos, Dignity Alliance Massachusetts, Beverly