COVID Transmission in Essex County and Peabody, Massachusetts

May 12, 2022. Information about transmission and ongoing current infections in Essex County and Peabody, Massachusetts. Links to data sources enable the reader to learn the situation in their locality. The sources used are the CDC data on transmission; levels of COVID found in wastewater; and % positivity in Essex County and Peabody. These are all leading indicators preceding cases, hospitalizations, and deaths. For detailed information about strategies for protecting yourself and your community, see The New "How to Avoid COVID" http://stopbullyingcoalition.org/newcovid

The New "How to Avoid COVID"

UPDATED: April 22, 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.

Assure Tenant Rights

Dramatic clouds over apartment building
We, tenants who live in public and subsidized housing, seek legislation to prevent the weakening or loss of rights that arises when public housing is put into private hands, and effective protection from bullying in public and subsidized housing. We should include all multi-family residential facilities under a single oversight agency, to assure that all citizens have all of their rights respected. Why should there be different rights depending on the landlord's source of income?

Public health in housing for elderly and disabled

Looking down on tree with shadows on snow
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).

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

Sign "Face Masks Required" on Elevator Door and Lobby Entrance
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?

Bullying Legislation To Address Public Housing Crisis

At last, a solid, well-researched, in depth article about major issues in public housing, including bullying, has been published by WickedLocal. The lead article by WickedLocal reporter, Willam J. Dowd, provides an excellent review of the issues around bullying, with interviews and quotes from some of the key players. Against this background, Dowd notes the work of the Stop Bullying Coalition to advance a strong ombuds bill to protect tenants of public and subsidized housing from bullying.

Advocacy on Bullying

Bullying attacks our dignity. Pamela Goodwin, one of our most dedicated activists, and I have been participating in the work of the Dignity Alliance (DAM). Their major focus has been on frail elders and disabled persons living in nursing homes and other institutional settings, and those living independently in the community. We need to prepare for Beacon Hill hearings on bullying bills. And we need information about bullying among children of tenants.