Why Not in Western MA?
Last week the Baker Administration launched free COVID-19 testing sites in eight communities , none of which are in western MA. Senator Lesser quickly issued a statement urging Governor Baker to expand free testing to Western MA. PHIWM Executive Director Jessica Collins echoed Senator Lesser’s plea in an interview with the Berkshire Eagle , noting that providing testing could help avoid a spike in Western MA. 
Data Update
COVID rates continue to decline in MA, but we must remain vigilant
On Monday July 6th, we entered Step One of Phase 3 of reopening . During phase 3, additional industries can resume operation with restrictions and capacity limitations such as fitness centers, movie theaters, and museums. According to MDPH’s COVID-19 Dashboard , COVID-19 deaths, hospitalizations, the percentage of people testing positive, and the number of hospitals using surge capacity have all continued to decline.   Although MA is faring better than much of the country, it is essential to remain vigilant.
As of July 12, 2020, there were 9,005 confirmed or suspected COVID-19 cases in Western Massachusetts (105,629 statewide) and 897 COVID-19 confirmed or suspected deaths in Western Massachusetts (8,110 statewide).
Source: https://www.mass.gov/info-details/archive-of-covid-19-cases-in-massachusetts#may-2020-
As stated in previous newsletters, caution should be exercised when interpreting COVID-19. For example, the rate of confirmed COVID-19 cases is dependent upon who is tested and not necessarily reflective of the distribution of COVID-19 in the general population. Testing has been limited thus far. Because many people who have the disease are asymptomatic and have not been tested, prevalence of people testing positive is unlikely to reflect the prevalence in communities. As testing and contact tracing increase, we will have a better understanding of impacts on communities and populations, and more targeted actions can take place to mitigate spread and support those who are disproportionately impacted.
Advocacy and Education
Police Accountability Advances in MA Senate
A Massachusetts police accountability bill advanced in the MA Senate early Tuesday morning The bill bans chokeholds; limits the use of tear gas, requires licensing of all law enforcement officers; requires that officers receive training about the history of racism; scales back “qualified immunity” (immunity for police that shields them from civil lawsuits unless there was a clearly established violation of the law); and establishes a committee (Police Officer Standards and Accreditation Committee) that would certify all law enforcement officers, would have the power to revoke licenses, and investigate allegations of misconduct.

We want to thank Senators Comerford, Hinds, Lesser and Welch for supporting the bill.  We encourage our western MA Reps to do the same to ensure police misconduct is not excused.
The Police Accountability Bill now proceeds to the house.

The Massachusetts Public Health Association and the Emergency Task Force on Coronavirus and Equity have identified police accountability as a policy priority. They are asking folks to take action and call your State Representatives to tell them to make sure to have the following in the House bill:
  • Strong use of force standards as set out in Rep. Miranda's bill, An Act to Save Black Lives, including complete bans on the most violent police tactics.
  • Strict limits on qualified immunity to ensure that police can be held accountable when they violate people's rights.
  • An unequivocal ban on the use of dangerous facial recognition technology that would supercharge racist policing.

Keep your eyes out for notice from us about public hearings about this bill in the House.
Assistance During COVID
Check out these key resources:

  • Springfield Partners for Community Action COVID-19 Emergency Assistance Response: for residents who need help with electric bills, groceries, water/sewer, rent/mortgage, water heater, and funeral expenses for COVID victims. For more information call 413-263-6500 or email.
  • Housing resources are open and available during COVID-19. Check for local resources on 413Cares.org.
Access PPE
Are you looking for PPE? Are you distributing PPE? Check out this new resource.
Protect MA online marketplace is an initiative of the Black Economic Council of Massachusetts (BECMA) in partnership with Amplify Latinx, IncluDe Innovation, and Sofenomenal Agency Group. They are working to match Massachusetts-based Black and Latinx companies that make or manufacture personal protective equipment (PPE) like non-medical masks with companies and individuals who want to purchase them. This matching service is provided at no cost to buyers or sellers.
Upcoming Events & Virtual Learning
Learn and engage from the comfort of your home! Check out these webinars and other virtual learning opportunities:
  • AGO's Summer Online Training Series: Join Attorney General Maura Healey's office in free educational trainings to empower the Commonwealth's youth and the people serving them. Learn more and register here. Upcoming webinars:
  • COVID-19 Scams and Identity Theft - Tuesday, July 21st 10:30 AM
  • AGO Assistance to Immigrants - Thursday, July 23rd 2:00 PM