Editorial: Safety Earns Trust
On May 11, 2023,The Massachusetts Coalition for Health Equity broadcast statements by advocates for safe healthcare using a large TV in the rear of a van that displayed banner, "Give Us Care, not COVID." The van appeared at the office of the Department of Public Health and at the State House. Image taken from video by Mary Jirmanus Saba, courtesy Mass Coalition for Health Equity.
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Masking is Essential for Safety in Hospitals
Massachusetts Coalition for Health Equity Demands, “Give us care, not COVID.” We all want to put COVID behind us and get on with our lives and put aside all our fears and the constant disruption of our normal life. Nevertheless, COVID is still here, causing severe disease, death, and long COVID.
COVID Transmission in Essex County and Peabody, Massachusetts
May 21, 2023. Information about transmission and ongoing current infections in Essex County and Peabody, Massachusetts. Although elderly people are at very high risk, simple steps can provide good protection against transmission and infection. Especially when transmission levels are persistently high, your actions can protect you and everyone around you. And when you work together with your neighbors, family, and everyone you see, you can all be safer together. It's not hard: Vaccinate; boost; ventilate; mask; hand hygiene; avoid unmasked gatherings.
The New "How to Avoid COVID"
UPDATED: July 29, 2022. This information is addressed primarily to tenants of public or subsidized housing for elderly and disabled persons. COVID is an infectious disease spread by the air we share with others. The best way to control disease and protect people from infection is to use public health measures, rather than only to depend on small groups or individuals to protect themselves. I present ideas that an individual or a housing community to use to reduce the chance of infection. The news about COVID has been alarming and the advice has been confusing. Here is my understanding of how I can stay safe. Remember, I can’t give medical advice. But I can read what experts are saying and select their soundest conclusions to share with you.
Public health in housing for elderly and disabled
Many of the management and community measures that will help to prevent and mitigate COVID are similar to those that can prevent or mitigate bullying in housing. In November, when the two-week positivity rate was 2.5%, I predicted a rapid rise in COVID and sought protective action by the landlord. Since then, while a wave of COVID has killed and sickened many and threatened to collapse the health care system, I have pressed for action. Four months later, while the wave is subsiding, I am still seeking an effective accommodation to protect my health (and that of all the tenants, staff, and visitors).
January Newsletter, Legislation & COVID
Stop Bullying and Mobbing, the ombuds office bill S1084 Do you want to stop bullying and mobbing in your housing? Use your power to influence legislators. They do listen when we speak up. We are making a push to support S1084 to create an ombuds office to protect elderly and disabled tenants in public and subsidized housing. And S900/H1407 will help landlords do a better job. S900 & S1084, are complementary, each provides a part of the solution. Right to Counsel (RTC) Two identical bills,S.874/H.1436, Senate and House, are designed to establish a pilot program to provide legal counsel to persons facing eviction. Having an attorney will level the playing field.
Reasonable Accommodation Request: Making it Stick
Update, January 13, 2022. The 14-day positivity rate for Peabody on January 13, 2021, was 21.74%, based on the period from December 26, 2021-January 8, 2021. The rate for Essex County was 25.78% Despite the fact that my landlord, Preservation of Affordable Housing, accepted my request for a reasonable accommodation is valid, they did not plan to do an effective accommodation. An effective intervention would be, for example, a zero-tolerance masking requirement that was actively policed and enforced. However, their own policy requires them to enforce the posted masking policy, which to my knowledge, they have not done. After the December 22 decision of the Peabody Board of Health to require indoor masking, the attorney for Preservation of Affordable Housing wrote yet another letter urging people to be careful. No effective action has been taken.
Advocacy Example: Reasonable Accommodation Request
Update, December 9, 2021. The 14-day positivity rate for Peabody, reported on December 9, 2021 is 6.48%, covering the period from November 21 through December 4, 2021. This represents an increase of 2.6 times over the rate when I first wrote to my landlord seeking a reasonable accommodation to require enforcement of their own rule, to require masking of all persons in the public areas of the apartment building. On December 1, I received material from the attorney representing my landlord, POAH, and Fairweather Apartments. The letter was dated 15 November. The letter grants my request of reasonable accommodation, i.e., to require indoor masking to protect against COVID. But they propose to continue the same, previously ineffective actions. What should I do?
Surviving the Return of COVID
COVID is roaring back with the Delta variant. It is early days, so what is known will be changing rapidly with new studies and clinical experience. This is a good time to take stock and plan for survival.
We and Our Leaders Can Control COVID
Excitement is in the air. It is spring, people are being vaccinated, and we all anticipate a speedy end to the crisis. But wait, there’s more. It will be weeks before everyone who is willing is vaccinated, and there are variants which the vaccine may not protect us from. We all need to continue taking every precaution for weeks to come. Together, we can survive the pandemic, and the governor should reconsider his policies on reopening and enforcement. Caution is most important for elderly people, including those living in public or subsidized housing, because we are the most vulnerable to the severe outcomes of COVID. “For the two week period prior to April 14, 2021, the average age of Massachusetts residents who have died from COVID-19 was 74 years old.”
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