Somerville Mayor Joe Curtatone is one of many municipal leaders advocating for uniformity in response to the coronavirus outbreak—whether that is on a statewide, regional, or even federal level, he says.
“We need the leadership to come from the Commonwealth,” he says. “We need a bold set of uniform parameters and mandates to understand what we need to do.”
He says there has been and continues to be collaboration between the municipal leaders in the greater Boston area to ensure that the virus is contained everywhere, and not just in one city.
For now, there have been no official announcements of shelter-in-place orders—which would require people not to leave their homes for nonessential reasons—in Massachusetts. This remains a possibility—at the minimum in Somerville, but hopefully on a larger scale, Curtatone says. Along with other municipal leaders, he says he is pushing state officials “not to wait.”
“This has to be done at a regional level at a minimum, and possibly at a state level,” he says. There is even the possibility of a New England–wide shelter-in-place order. “We’ll see what the federal government does there.”
In response to concerns from business owners about a municipality-wide shelter-in-place harming the Somerville economy, Curtatone says that he agrees that this is not an ideal solution.
“Municipal leaders understand that they have the greatest impact—the greatest effect on smoothing out the curve and avoiding a catastrophic surge on the healthcare system,” he says. “We need to act uniformly.”
However, he says that any decision he makes will prioritizes public health, safety, and containment above all else.
“I want people to know and understand that this is very serious,” he says. “We are faced with a health crisis—an emergency the likes of which we’ve never experienced before in our lifetimes, and we’re only going to overcome it if we’re working together. Your government is working day in and day out, but we need every individual in every community to do their part as well. … People should not panic but focus and take the matter seriously.”
Gov. Charlie Baker’s order to limit all restaurants and bars to delivery and takeout has impacted at least 4,000 hourly workers in Somerville alone, Curtatone says. He adds that he is working with the state to advocate for a universal basic income, and larger bailouts for small businesses that are suffering. Furthermore, he says he is also advocating for a relief fund larger than the $10 million Small Business Recovery Loan Fund launched by Gov. Baker earlier this week.
“And that relief has to go right to those workers and small businesses before we bail out any companies,” he says. “… There’s already been economic hardship and we’re going to fight to make sure everyone’s needs are met, we survive this, and we can rebuild the city together.”
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