No one from Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker's administration will participate in Thursday morning's oversight hearing about the state's response to the latest COVID-19 surge, despite invitations for top state health and emergency management officials to testify as a growing number of lawmakers and public health experts are pressuring the governor to do more to combat the virus's spread.
The Joint Committee on COVID-19 and Emergency Preparedness and Management on Wednesday evening released an updated list of participants for the hearing that began at 10 a.m. The roster of those planning to testify did not include Health and Human Services Secretary Marylou Sudders, Acting Public Health Commissioner Margret Cooke, or Office of Preparedness and Emergency Management Director Kerin Milesky, all of whom were invited.
Rep. William Driscoll's office confirmed that Sudders and other members of the administration invited to testify "are unable to participate," but they have been asked to provide the committee with dates in early January that would fit their schedules for another hearing to be convened.
The committee, which is chaired by Driscoll and Sen. Jo Comerford, will hear from Massachusetts Health and Hospital Association President Steve Walsh; Dr. Nahid Bhadelia, founding director of Boston University's Center for Emerging Infectious Diseases Policy & Research; Dr. Dan Barouch, director of Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center's Center for Virology & Vaccine Research; Phoebe Walker, director of community services for the Franklin Regional Council of Governments; New Bedford Public Health Director Damon Chaplin; and Arlington Public Health Director Natasha Waden.