As freshly sworn-in Massachusetts Gov. Maura Healey settles into the corner office, top Boston doctors are weighing in on how her administration should prioritize COVID-19 response.
In an historic inauguration, Healey took the oath of office earlier this month. Healey's rise to power marks the first time a woman has been elected governor in Massachusetts, and she is among the first two openly gay women to serve as governor in the country. She takes over for former Gov. Charlie Baker, who spent the majority of his second term responding to the pandemic.
In the latest episode of NBC10 Boston's weekly "COVID Q&A" series, Tufts Medical Center's Dr. Shira Doron, Boston Medical Center's Dr. Sabrina Assoumou and Brigham and Women's Hospital's Dr. Daniel Kuritzkes explained what they think the Healey administration should focus on when it comes to COVID-19.
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"First of all, I think that Governor Baker did an outstanding job of managing COVID-19 throughout the pandemic here in Massachusetts," Kuritzkes said. "And we had really, almost complete alignment throughout the pandemic between government, industry academics and the public health sector. I would expect that Governor Healy is going to continue in the same spirit."
Doron, who worked as an unpaid advisor to Baker's education commissioner, agreed with Kuritzkes that Baker has done "an outstanding job."
"I hope that there are no major derailments of what's been done," Doron added.
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Both Doron and Assoumou said they look forward to seeing plans from Healey, who was criticized for being light on details during her campaign and only touched briefly on the pandemic in her inaugural speech.
"Together we are healing, but we must acknowledge the scars. Our people have lost loved ones. Their lives and livelihoods have been disrupted. The toll on our physical and mental health is real. The pandemic exposed and widened gaps in learning and health care and equity," Healey said in her speech last week. "I also think people are tired. We can speak honestly about that. We’ve come through difficult days."
Healey has yet to publicly share a vision when it comes to COVID-19 response and has not been pressed to take a stance on issues like mask mandates. Healey's office did not immediately respond to an NBC10 Boston request for comment.
"Number one, emphasizing the good news. We're in a very different place than we were before. But one important thing would be to make sure that those tools are accessible in an equitable fashion," Assoumou said. "So I'm really looking forward to hearing more about what the plans are."
Other areas of importance Assoumou identified include improving public health data around virus risk levels in any given community, creative solutions like ventilation filtration and long COVID studies. Doron added that another focus should be on equity of access to vaccines, treatment and testing. She also called for a "real honesty campaign" when it comes to public health.
"My one of my areas of focus has been, how do we reverse the mistrust in public health that has developed? I am very concerned that there is a decrease in uptake of routine vaccines. And I don't think we can completely blame anti-vax rhetoric for that," Doron added. "And I think that we need to get to the root cause of where's the disconnect between the message to get vaccinated and the acceptance of that message."