Baker targets 5 hotspots with ed campaign

Those living with extended family urged to wear masks at home

THE BAKER ADMINISTRATION is launching a new, fairly basic COVID-19 education campaign targeting the five communities hardest hit by the virus.

Gov. Charlie Baker said the campaign will promote the use of masks, social distancing, and the avoidance of larger gatherings. The campaign will run in multiple languages, on billboards and social media, in Chelsea, Everett, Lawrence, Lynn, and Revere – communities where the rate of COVID-19 cases per 100,000 people puts them in the high-risk category. (For a story on the latest town-by-town rankings, click here.)

Special teams will also be dispatched to the five communities – at 15 locations over the Labor Day weekend – reminding people of what they need to do to reduce the spread of the disease.

The five communities have struggled with COVID-19 since the beginning. Analysts have suggested the communities have been hard hit because residents tend to live in crowded apartments; to work essential jobs that require them to physically go to an office or a shop, often on public transit; and to cope with underlying health conditions that are exacerbated by pollution and other environmental factors. The five communities also have a high percentage of immigrants, who may not speak English.

“We are cities of essential employees, front-line workers, many of whom rely on public transit,” said Revere Mayor Brian Arrigo, who joined Baker at the State House press conference.

But Baker said public transit is safe to ride and workplaces are not danger spots for COVID-19. He said data on the spread of COVID-19 indicate problems arise when people come together in large gatherings and fail to remember to wear masks and socially distance.

Marylou Sudders, the governor’s secretary of health and human services, urged anyone in the five communities living with extended family or someone with an underlying health condition to wear masks indoors.

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Bruce Mohl

Editor, CommonWealth

About Bruce Mohl

Bruce Mohl is the editor of CommonWealth magazine. Bruce came to CommonWealth from the Boston Globe, where he spent nearly 30 years in a wide variety of positions covering business and politics. He covered the Massachusetts State House and served as the Globe’s State House bureau chief in the late 1980s. He also reported for the Globe’s Spotlight Team, winning a Loeb award in 1992 for coverage of conflicts of interest in the state’s pension system. He served as the Globe’s political editor in 1994 and went on to cover consumer issues for the newspaper. At CommonWealth, Bruce helped launch the magazine’s website and has written about a wide range of issues with a special focus on politics, tax policy, energy, and gambling. Bruce is a graduate of Ohio Wesleyan University and the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. He lives in Dorchester.

About Bruce Mohl

Bruce Mohl is the editor of CommonWealth magazine. Bruce came to CommonWealth from the Boston Globe, where he spent nearly 30 years in a wide variety of positions covering business and politics. He covered the Massachusetts State House and served as the Globe’s State House bureau chief in the late 1980s. He also reported for the Globe’s Spotlight Team, winning a Loeb award in 1992 for coverage of conflicts of interest in the state’s pension system. He served as the Globe’s political editor in 1994 and went on to cover consumer issues for the newspaper. At CommonWealth, Bruce helped launch the magazine’s website and has written about a wide range of issues with a special focus on politics, tax policy, energy, and gambling. Bruce is a graduate of Ohio Wesleyan University and the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. He lives in Dorchester.

Lawrence Mayor Dan Rivera said three weeks ago that if the rate didn’t come down in his municipality within two weeks he planned to take the city back to an earlier stage of reopening. Since then, the rate in Lawrence has steadily risen from 8.5 cases per 100,000 people for the two-week period ending August 12 to 14.9 cases per 100,000 people on Wednesday. Rivera appears to have abandoned his idea to walk back the city’s reopening efforts, and Baker with his new campaign is focusing more on education.

Of the five communities, Lynn appears to have had some success in reducing the spread of COVID-19. For the two weeks ending August 12, Lynn reported 24.3 cases per 100,000 people, the highest level in the state. Since then, the rate has steadily fallen – to 23.6 cases per 100,000 people for the two-week period ending August 19, to 16.7 cases on August 26, and 12.1 cases on Wednesday.