U.S. Rep. Ayanna Pressley is pushing back against Gov. Charlie Baker’s plan for reopening Massachusetts amid the coronavirus pandemic, saying the phased approach the state rolled out leaves “more questions than answers.”
Pressley tweeted Tuesday morning that the Bay State “isn’t ready” to reopen, calling out Baker’s proposal for offering a “false choice” between public health and economic recovery.
“MA isn’t ready to ‘reopen’. Policy decisions that offer a false choice between public health & economic recovery will hurt our communities,” the congresswoman wrote. “I urge @MassGovernor to re-evaluate his timeline & invest in the supports needed to keep our families safe.”
Pressley, a Democrat, added that the four-phased plan for reopening the economy announced by the Republican governor on Monday “left us with more questions than answers.”
“I have been on the phone with families worried about childcare, faith leaders concerned it is not safe to gather, and small businesses worried about their workers’ health & access to PPE,” she said.
Places of worship are allowed to open now as part of the first phase, along with manufacturing and construction. Their inclusion at the top of the list came after a group of pastors petitioned Baker last week to allow them to reopen churches.
Still, concerns remain within the faith community. Massachusetts Council of Churches Executive Director the Rev. Laura Everett and President the Rev. Jennie Barrett Siegal issued a statement late Monday citing the highly contagious nature of the novel virus and saying that “just because congregations may return to their buildings does not mean they should.”
“We appreciate that the state is in a tough position with religious institutions,” Everett told the Herald Tuesday. But, she added, “There are many, many questions about how places of worship will get access to the things we need to fulfill these minimum safety standards for the religious institutions that choose to reopen.”
Some churches plan to move forward with services this Sunday, Everett said, while others are holding off into the summer or even until a vaccine is available.
The faith leaders also slammed the lack of support for communities of color being disproportionately impacted by COVID-19.
“We have profound concerns that any just response to this pandemic requires proportional help to the communities that have been most harmed,” Everett said, adding that churches in black, immigrant and homeless communities are often key providers of food and mental health services.
“We remain deeply distressed by the lack of comprehensive testing in communities of color, unequal access to care and resources, the financial and logistical burden on churches to provide masks and cleaning supplies, and the decision fatigue of so many church leaders already overwhelmed,” the leaders said.
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