Councilor Ed Flynn (District 2) brought forth a resolution at this week’s city council meeting for Boston to support its Chinese and Asian communities during the COVID-19, also known as coronavirus, outbreak.
As the coronavirus continues to impact cities across the United States, the economic impact has effected Boston’s Chinatown the hardest. Councilor Flynn encouraged city officials to assist in showing support for the community during a time when ignorance and misinformation has created negative public reactions.
He noted that many Asian residents have recently experienced an elevation in racism and discrimination with incidents of verbal harassment and avoidance by other people in public spaces. Despite Massachusetts only having one confirmed case of coronavirus, the lack of public understanding of the virus continues to lend its hand to racism. Flynn urged the importance of officials’ continuance of support for Boston’s Chinese and Asian communities during this time.
Councilors Michelle Wu (At-Large) and Matt O’Malley (District 6) opened up the discussion about Boston’s preparedness for the coronavirus pandemic.
As the global count of coronavirus cases surpass 90,000 with 3,200 fatalities, Councilors Wu and O’Malley called for a hearing to examine Boston’s plan for addressing the situation. Although the U.S. has only seen 125 cases with 9 deaths, the novel COVID-19 virus remains an “international concern” according to the World Health Organization (WHO).
Officials spoke about striking a balance between recognizing the enormity of the pandemic while also avoiding any unnecessary panic. In order to accomplish this, the city council identified accessible information as a priority during a time of heightened public health concern.
Councilor O’Malley stressed that accurate information about the status of the outbreak be disseminated through all points of access outside of the media, television, and social media.
“Part of this outreach is also language access,” added Councilor Flynn.
With approximately 700 people self-quarantined in the Commonwealth, officials expressed the importance that Boston’s infrastructures are prepared to evaluate those who are presenting potential symptoms for the coronavirus.
Medical professionals, public health officials, and other stakeholders should join in the conversation to assist in better informing residents and determining necessary precautions as the situation continues to evolve, such as reconsidering large-scale events scheduled to happen in Boston (i.e. the Boston Marathon).
Following New York Governor Cuomo’s initiative making coronavirus testing free for Medicaid recipients, Councilor O’Malley maintained that Massachusetts should be doing the same.
“This is going to be something we have to face as a society and as a world for the foreseeable future,” stated Councilor Wu. “This won’t be the last pandemic, especially in the age of climate change.”
The risk for contracting coronavirus remains relatively low, but it’s important for the City of Boston to take proactive measures as the pandemic continues to unfold. It is also important for residents to understand the precautions needed to protect themselves, while also avoiding the pitfalls of discrimination against Boston’s effected residents and communities.