As state and municipal officials, we thank you for responding to our letters from last week by issuing an order to close all non-essential businesses and advising residents of the Commonwealth to Stay at Home. While we appreciate the steps you have taken to help limit the spread of the novel coronavirus, we believe more aggressive action is urgently needed to further reduce the potential for transmission of COVID-19. Therefore, we call on you to take the following steps by the end of day, Friday, April 3, 2020. Shut down all non-essential construction. While we recognize some construction work is truly essential, such as emergency repairs to public infrastructure or work that is needed to stand up new facilities to address the COVID-19 pandemic, the current guidance continues to deem far too many construction projects as essential.
Moreover, the current COVID-19 Employee Health, protection, guidance and prevention guidelines indicate that in many circumstances, construction workers shall be supplied PPE including as appropriate a standard face mask, gloves, and eye protection. In this time where our healthcare professionals are being asked to ration the limited supply of Personal Protection Equipment (PPE), the need to shutdown non- essential construction should be obvious. Look for additional ways to narrow the COVID-19 Essential Services list. We understand the state’s Essential Services list has been largely influenced by federal guidelines, but we in Massachusetts ought to be even more aggressive in taking steps to limit the spread of COVID-19.
The Commonwealth has established a formal process for businesses not covered under the COVID-19 Essential Services list to make an Essential Service Designation Request via an online form and dedicated email account. So, to be evenhanded, we suggest that you establish a similar process for workers or members of the general public to formally request that a particular job or service be removed from the Essential Services list. Take stronger action to promote Physical Distancing. While most residents of the Common wealth appear to be following the Stay at Home advisory, the fact remains that even more can be done to limit the spread of COVID-19. Other states have been significantly more aggressive in limiting public assemblages, and just yesterday, the Editorial Board of the Boston Globe called on you to be more forceful in sending the message that residents must obey bans on public gatherings. Pursuant to your power under the Massachusetts Civil Defense Act, we call on you to issue a stronger Stay at Home Order while continuing to allow residents to procure the essentials, seek health care, or take a walk, etc. In conclusion, recent polling shows that over 90% of the public supports your decisions to close non-essential businesses, schools, bars, and dine-in restaurants.
The suggests that we can be even more aggressive in our efforts to limit the spread of the virus. At least until we experience the first peak of the COVID-19 disease in Massachusetts and at least until we are able to deploy widespread testing and provide our healthcare professionals, first responders, and front line workers with adequate supplies of PPE we ask that you take even more aggressive action as outlined above to help limit the spread of COVID-19 and flatten the curve. We thank you for your urgent attention to this emergency situation and look forward to continuing to work in partnership with you as we do everything possible to maintain the capacity of our healthcare system and prevent loss of life in the days and weeks ahead. Very truly yours,
Councilor Mike McLaughlin