By Jessica Kergo for The Everett Advocate
EVERETT - Next week, Ward 3 Councilor Anthony DiPierro will propose that Everett, through Mayor Carlo DeMaria’s office, lobby Governor Charlie Baker’s administration for preferential treatment when a COVID-19 vaccine is released for distribution.
Local leaders like DiPierro are hoping that Baker’s administration will recognize Everett’s unique and intense struggle combating the spread of COVID-19.
“If you don’t ask, the answer is always no,” said DiPierro. “So I hope we can have this conversation and see if there’s any possibility.”
Everett is one of 97 Massachusetts cities and towns classified as a high-risk “red” zone and were among the first cities added to that list during the early weeks of the pandemic.
“We’ve been in the red zone for a long time and despite any efforts we’ve made to combat it, our numbers are still climbing,” said Ward 1 City Councilor Fred Capone.
Everett’s dense population could be a contributing factor to the city’s high infection rate according to city council members.
“We’re the third most densely populated city in the state,” said Councillor at Large Wayne Matewsky. “Our community has suffered quite a bit”.
City councilors also pointed to the large population of essential workers in Everett’s community including everything from grocery store employees to front line healthcare providers.
“We’re a very tight community with high risk,” says Council President Rosa DiFlorio. “I think we’re the most diverse city around.”
Everett had a particularly high demand for testing compared to other areas as well.
“We are extremely fortunate to have free testing sites in Everett, however, because several parts of the state still do not have access to free testing, our sites are seeing more traffic from other cities and services might be getting delayed for our own residents as a result” Ward 2 City Councilor Stephanie Martins said in a statement.
Martins said she has heard of people traveling from as far away as Hyannis, Massachusetts just to make use of Everett’s free testing site.
She believes that part of the burden could be alleviated through a dedicated testing center for Everett’s frontline workers.
“On our next meeting, I am making a request for a dedicated site for City of Everett employees especially first responders,” she said.
Former city council President Peter Napolitano also emphasized the severity of Everett’s situation.
“I think it’s important to have some way to get Everett’s voice out there,” he said. “It’s up to the leaders of the city to reach out to the leaders of the state.”
In a press conference on Wednesday, Governor Baker announced that Massachusetts is expected to receive 300,000 first doses of the vaccine by the end of December. Among those first in line to receive the vaccine are clinical and non-clinical healthcare workers doing direct and covid facing care, home-based healthcare workers, first responders, long term care facilities and congregate care residents and staff.
According to Governor Baker, additional shipments of vaccine doses are expected to arrive in Massachusetts throughout January, February, and March.
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