Emergency Letter Triggers Major Response from Gov. Charlie Baker

Sounding a major alarm, a host of City and state leaders and hospital executives wrote an emergency letter on Friday, April 10, pleading for more resources as Chelsea’s COVID-19 infection rate surged higher and higher.

By mid-week, City leaders said the call had been heard.

The letter was signed by 47 individuals, including City Manager Tom Ambrosino, Council President Roy Avellaneda, MGH President Peter Slavin and Beth Israel Lahey Health CEO Kevin Tabb – among others.

“We implore you to take immediate action,” read the letter. “Our cases are growing at a phenomenal rate and we have not yet reached the ‘peak’.”

The letter reports that, even though rates are not 100 percent verified, that Chelsea is experiencing the highest infection rate in the state by a huge margin. It read Chelsea’s rate is more than 106 per 10,000 people, which is much larger than the next highest rate in Massachusetts, that being Lawrence with a rate of 75 per 10,000.

“Our rates are not only significantly higher than other communities, as far as we can tell, but there is a significant gap between what we are experiencing in our community and the next highest community,” read the letter. “Chelsea’s per capita rate is higher than some of the hardest hit boroughs of New York City, the epicenter of the virus in the United States. As community leaders, public health professionals, researchers, organizers and elected officials, we

understand that these rates are not a perfect reflection of reality. However, we also understand that Chelsea is in desperate need of state assistance.”

MGH officials reported in the letter that 40 percent of the hospital’s positive COVID-19 infections are non-English speakers and more than half of those are Latino.

“As a working class community, the majority of whom are Latinx, many of our residents are considered essential workers during this crisis,” read the letter. “Whether they are in hospitality industries, supermarket/grocery store, transportation, maintenance workers, etc. These residents are carrying out essential services during this pandemic, and compromising their own health and that of their families and our community.”

The conglomeration of leaders called on Gov. Charlie Baker to help Chelsea specifically on four major points, including:

• Funding for emergency food, medical, and cleaning supplies.

• Funding for emergency housing of displaced residents due to positive COVID-19 tests.

• Multilingual communication support to alert residents of the severity of this crisis.

• Manpower/resources to coordinate with the City’s existing efforts to effectively operationalize the aforementioned services and resources.

The City and a number of stakeholders – including police, fire, ambulance, medical professionals and non-profit leaders  – have banded together like never before during the crisis. Every day at 4 p.m. they conduct a conference call with nearly 70 to 80 people on the line, Ambrosino said.

He said he was proud that so many have come together to form task forces and to solve problems, but he added that no matter how much they do, they cannot meet every need that is out there.

That has been the genesis of the letter that came out today, with Ambrosino saying with emphasis on Wednesday that resources should not be distributed equally throughout the state. He called, then, on the governor to marshal resources to hardest-hit areas like Chelsea, Revere, Lawrence and Brockton.

Those who also signed the letter included the following:

•Councillor Damali Vidot

•Roseann Bongiovanni, GreenRoots

•Maria Belen Power, GreenRoots

•State Rep. Dan Ryan

•State Rep. Roselee Vincent

•Councillor Leo Robinson

•Councillor Enio Lopez

•Councillor Giovanni Recupero

•Councillor Yamir Rodriguez

•Councillor Judith Garcia

•Councillor Calvin Brown

•Councillor Naomi Zabot

•Councillor Melinda Vega Maldonado

•CAPIC Director Richelle Cromwell

•TND Director Rafael Mares

•Chelsea Community Connections Director Cara Cogliano

•Chelsea Black Community President Joan Cromwell

•School Committee Chair Kelly Garcia

•School Committeeman Roberto Jimenez-Rivera

•School Committeewoman Marisol Santiago

•School Committeewoman Jeanette Velez

•School Committeewoman Ana Hernandez

•School Committeewoman Lucia Henriquez

•School Committeewoman Rosemarie Carlisle

•School Committeeman Henry Wilson

•School Committeewoman Yessenia Alfaro

•GreenRoots Board Chair Madeleine Scammell

•Roberta White, BU School of Public Health

•Jonathan Levy, BU School of Public Health

•Francine Laden, Harvard Chan School of Public Health

•Richard Clapp, BU School of Public Health

•David Ozonoff, BU School of Public Health

•M. Patricia Fabian, BU School of Public Health

•Laura Senier, Northeastern University

•John Durant, Tufts School of Engineering

•Karl Kelsey, Brown U. School of Public Health

•Patrick Kinney, BU School of Public Health

•Marco Luna, Salem State University/GreenRoots

•Seth Tuler, Worcester Polytech

•Eugene Benson, GreenRoots Board

•Rev. Sandra Whitley, Peoples AME Church

•Rev. Ellen Rohan Ball, First Congregational Church Chelsea

•Joe Mahoney, Chelsea Chamber president

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