Today's election is perhaps the most historic of our lifetimes, and I know many of us are experiencing both hope and anxiety today. Yet, like other election days before, it is a test of our fundamental commitment to democracy. If you have not already done so, please vote! Your voice, when combined with others, is strength. And there is nothing that we can't do when we join together.
While we all wait for the results of this election -- which we know may be several days or more away -- we also must give attention to some critical issues that are happening in Massachusetts. COVID-19 infection rates are rising again across the state, and MPHA has been calling for additional state action to bring the spike under control. Yesterday, Gov. Baker announced new public health measures, which are a good start but are, unfortunately, inadequate to address the challenges we face. Yesterday we issued a press release expressing our disappointment that the Governor did not take stronger action.
Although Gov. Baker has repeatedly stated his belief that social gatherings are the main source of spread right now, the data does not support this assertion. Data from the Department of Public Health shows that, between the end of September and the end of October, only 67 known cases were directly connected to social gatherings. At the same time, there were numerous clusters in a wide range of work settings. We are also seeing new infections in prisons and jails. As we said in yesterday's press release, the Baker administration should and could be doing more to implement adequate protections. Without an equity focus and without adequate enforcement, the state is likely to continue to struggle to contain the virus. With your help, MPHA will continue to speak out and to press for the measures needed for a safe and equitable reopening and recovery.
Another important development this week may be the expected release of the House Ways and Means budget for fiscal year 2021 (the current fiscal year). The state budget will be one of the most important public health measures passed this session, and MPHA will be working hard to make sure that public health priorities are included. If we are successful, it will contain critical funding for local public health departments and boards of health, maintain funding for public transportation, and provide essential funding to maintain basic supports for those who have been hardest hit by the pandemic. Your help will be critical in this effort, and we will be reaching out to you later in the week to ask you to take action!
With so many challenges ahead of us, it is easy to feel overwhelmed. Nevertheless, when I think about what we can accomplish when we act together, I feel great hope. We at MPHA are inspired by you -- and your continued support and partnership in our work together. Together, we are a force to be reckoned with.