Rep. Ayanna Pressley, D-Mass., is demanding that Massachusets Gov. Charlie Baker reimpose an indoor mask mandate as the omicron variant spreads throughout the country.
“As the experts rightfully point out, it is critical that any comprehensive statewide plan include the reinstatement of a statewide universal indoor mask policy,” Pressley said in a letter to Baker Tuesday. “Public health experts note that masks remain simple and effective tools for limiting COVID-19 spread—especially as we navigate the winter months and traditional cold and flu seasons.”
Pressley, a member of the progressive “Squad” of Democratic lawmakers, penned the letter just one day after Boston Mayor Michelle Wu announced sweeping new COVID-19 mandates in the state’s largest city, requiring anyone hoping to dine indoors at a Boston restaurant or bar show proof of vaccination.
Pressley acknowledged Boston‘s new policy in her letter, calling the actions “lifesaving measures to keep our residents safe.” But Pressley called on Baker to apply similar policies throughout the state, arguing that Massachusetts has crossed the “grim milestone of more than one million cases and nearly 20,000 deaths.”
“As we continue to experience a winter surge and are now faced with the new threat of the even more contagious Omicron variant, it is incumbent upon policymakers, at all levels of government, to act aggressively to center the public health and keep our collective constituents safe and healthy,” Pressley’s letter said.
But the state’s Republican governor has so far resisted calls to impose more strict COVID-19 policies, instead opting to encourage residents to get vaccinated as new variants hit the state.
“All the data that’s out there on Delta, Omicron and all the rest says the vaccines are effective,” Baker said last week. “I would repeat something I’ve said many times, which is, if you haven’t gotten vaccinated, get vaccinated. And if you’re eligible for a booster shot, get a booster shot.”
But Baker’s actions were not enough for Pressley, who called on the governor to follow a plan outlined by the state legislature that had the endorsement of “epidemiologists, public health experts, providers and frontline community leaders.”
“In this moment, our shared constituents deserve bold leadership and evidence-based policies that will mitigate COVID-19 transmission and save lives,” Pressley said. “I strongly urge you to heed the calls of the public health experts and the hundreds of community-based organizations that have informed the COVID-19 Action Plan and enact a statewide plan that will keep our families and communities safe.”