Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley on Tuesday joined the chorus of Massachusetts lawmakers and medical experts pleading with Gov. Charlie Baker to reinstate the indoor mask mandate across the commonwealth as coronavirus cases dangerously swell amid the highly transmissible omicron variant.
In a letter to the governor, Pressley urged Baker to take immediate action to combat the spread of COVID-19, writing that is “incumbent upon policymakers, at all levels of government, to act aggressively to center the public health and keep our collective constituents safe and healthy.”
Massachusetts residents deserve “bold leadership and evidence-based policies that will mitigate COVID-19 transmission and save lives,” Pressley said.
Pressley’s office publicly released the letter hours after Baker said during a news briefing that he has “no interest in putting a mandate on this issue given all the tools that are available on a statewide basis,” including COVID testing and vaccination.
Pressley rejected that stance, invoking guidance from public health experts for people to wear masks indoors during a major confluence of flu and coronavirus infections.
“As the experts rightfully point out, it is critical that any comprehensive statewide plan include the reinstatement of a statewide universal indoor mask policy,” Pressley wrote in her letter Tuesday. “Initial data and analysis from the CDC show that the newly mutated Omicron variant is more contagious and could spread more quickly than the original COVID-19 virus. It is clear, implementing a universal indoor mask policy now can help mitigate these spikes and help save lives.”
Pressley also asked Baker to “seriously consider” the recommendation in the Massachusetts COVID-19 Action Plan — calling for a universal indoor mask mandate, plus improved vaccination efforts for frontline communities disproportionately impacted by the pandemic — sent to the governor last week by state Sen. Becca Rausch and other elected officials. The plan was endorsed by more than 120 public health and medical experts, as well as 30 community organizations.
“I stand in solidarity with the experts and community leaders who worked collectively to put together this lifesaving framework and have taken measures to protect the most vulnerable in our communities…” Pressley wrote in her letter to Baker. “I stand ready to partner in any way necessary to ensure our most vulnerable communities are able to access the lifesaving resources and vaccinations necessary to combat this unprecedented pandemic.”
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