Gov. Charlie Baker is being urged by a coalition of community activists and medical professionals to give the state's Black and immigrant communities priority access to COVID-19 vaccines.
"Our Black and Latino neighbors have been the hardest hit by the pandemic, and we have failed to implement sufficient measures to protect them,'' said a letter signed by more than 250 people and delivered to Baker on Monday, The Boston Globe reported. "We cannot afford to neglect our hotspot communities during the rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine.''
Health care workers, nursing home residents and first responders are among those who are currently eligible to be vaccinated under Phase 1 of the state's inoclulation plan and the general public is not expected to have vaccine access until April.
The Republican governor has already pledged to set aside 20% of the state's vaccine supply for cities and towns with high infection rates, and acknowledged the pandemic's impact on those communities.
"Black and brown communities have borne the brunt of this virus,'' Baker said Monday. "Our administration's response to the pandemic has been constantly mindful of this reality."
But the letter's authors said the state has not identified a program for actually administering those vaccines to the hotspots.
The letter was provided by the Chelsea Collaborative, or La Colaborativa, a nonprofit that has been leading the humanitarian response to the COVID-19 pandemic in the city, hit hard early during the pandemic. The letter was also signed by doctors from Mass General Brigham hospitals.
NURSING HOME OUTBREAK
The National Guard has responded to a Berkshire County nursing home where there have been more than 100 confirmed COVID-19 cases among residents and staff, authorities said.
The Springside Rehabilitation and Skilled Care Center in Pittsfield in its latest report said 72 residents and 37 staff have tested positive for the disease to date, with 52 active cases among residents and 27 among staff, The Berkshire Eagle reported Monday.
The number of deaths was not disclosed.
Nancy Zappolo, a vice president of Springside owner BaneCare, said staff are working with members of the National Guard assigned to the facility by the state Department of Public Health. She said the facility is ``following a clear plan to address the number of COVID cases at Springside.''
Mayor Linda Tyer is monitoring the outbreak.
"Any time that we have an outbreak of this magnitude at a long-term care facility it's upsetting and alarming,'' Tyer said. "Once it starts, it's very difficult to get it contained.''