This State's Reopening Plan Is a "Hot Mess," Mayor Says

One city mayor has doubts about his state's ability to reopen safely amid coronavirus.

New England has been praised by many public health officials for its response to coronavirus, with some experts claiming it may be the one U.S. region where the virus doesn't surge in August. However, not everyone is so confident about every New England state's continued ability to maintain a downward trend when it comes to COVID. In fact, Joseph Curtatone, mayor of Somerville, Massachusetts, is now calling his own state's continued plans to reopen "a hot mess."

Somerville, a city with 75,000 residents located just outside Boston, has reported 1,004 positive coronavirus tests and 33 deaths thus far. But with the state moving forward with its plan to enter Phase 3 last week—wherein gyms, movie theaters, casinos, and other entertainment facilities joined the list of reopened businesses, which already included restaurants with indoor dining—Curtatone says that Massachusetts is being foolhardy in its response to the pandemic.

"I have to report that what we're being handed is a hot mess. We've watched other states bungle their reopenings and we seem to be following in their footsteps," Curtatone lamented in a July 10 article published in CommonWealth Magazine. "In Massachusetts, we're getting marketing slogans instead of a substantive, informed, coordinated response to a disease with a staying power we need to learn to respect."

closed sign somerville ma business
Shutterstock/Micha Weber

Curtatone noted the lack of comprehensive mask-wearing measures as one of the state's biggest problems. He also cited Massachusetts' decision to reopen dining and entertainment facilities without providing a comprehensive plan to reopen schools as a major point of contention.

"We have a toothless order that gets interpreted differently by each community. Having a new set of rules every time you cross a city or town line creates the disordered conditions this disease needs to thrive," Curtatone explained.

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However, despite Curtatone's assessment, many other officials and public health experts claim that Massachusetts is already doing exemplary work toward curtailing the virus' spread.

"Massachusetts has done a really, really good job. They have," Anthony Fauci, MD, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), said in early July. Similarly, Boston mayor Marty Walsh praised his own city's efforts to curb coronavirus' spread, claiming that it could be "the first city that truly recovers from COVID-19."

Those platitudes have done little to quell Curtatone's concerns, though: "Our state is charting a nonsensical path that flies in the face of the data and does not put in place the public health shield needed to protect us from a potential second wave of coronavirus," he said. And for more on the struggle to contain the virus, This State Where COVID Was Plummeting Is Now Seeing New Cases Double.

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