Well, I hope everyone enjoyed watching my first ever Facebook Live event last night! CiCi didn’t kill me so I would say it ended up pretty well. My hands are still dark brown despite trying a dozen different remedies, but besides that it is all good. The Governor did tell me he watched it but did not reply to my suggestion that we do a wife makeover challenge - which I guess goes to prove he is much wiser than I am. Nevertheless, CiCi and I are going to do our next episode this Friday at 9pm. Now, what to do… if you can post suggestions that you would like to see - that would be super helpful (and knowing my friends - hysterical/inappropriate).
We passed another sad milestone today as we reached 4,004 people who have died as a result of this virus. 158 deaths were reported which remains level from the past few days, so I suppose that is a silver lining if there is such a thing during this crisis. Flattening the curve has been our goal and we are doing a great job with that.
1,824 new positive cases today out of 15,652 tests which is equivalent to a 12% ratio which is the lowest positive result to tests given since March 24th. Also ICU cases dropped again and we are now at 904 people currently in ICU. Total hospitalizations remained relatively flat at 3,617 and overall rate of hospitalizations dropped to 5%.
Since it was Sunday, and a beautiful one at that, there was not much news to report besides the actual facts and figures.
I typically try not to post my political thoughts on this nightly discourse, but this issue has been troubling me and I know it has been bothering many of you as well - so I hope you don’t mind me touching on it here. My goal is to not sound like a conspiracy theorist with my objections nor do I want anyone to think I'm advocating against the Governor's order- but I do believe this is an important conversation to be able to have at a time when many of our civil liberties are being discarded in the name of combating a crisis.
On Friday, Governor Baker created an order that everyone must where a mask while in public. While I have been wearing a mask for several weeks and I think wearing a mask is an excellent idea; and I think this should be strongly encouraged for all citizens to do whenever possible; I do disagree that any one man (in this case Governor Baker) should be able to make a law, backed by the power of the state and municipal police, that infringes on the individual rights of every person in the commonwealth.
Come this Wednesday, if two consenting adults want to have a conversation within 6 feet of each other on a public sidewalk without wearing a mask- they are now breaking the law. While we can argue that their doing so is not very smart and I will agree with you, the fact of the matter remains - do they not have the right to make this decision for themselves?
I’m adding this paragraph for clarification since I’ve gotten some questions: the new law doesn’t mandate that you wear a mask at all times in public, it mandates whenever you must wear a mask when not social distancing or when social distancing might not be possible. So I agree that the concept is good policy and people should do this- it is the law and the fine that we do this that I have a problem with. Where does it end? What if I’ve been tested and I have the antibodies and the doctor has determined that I can’t spread it and I can’t catch it - then do I need to wear a mask?
If this was part of the plan for opening back up the economy, then maybe I would be better able to accept this. If we were told that unless things go to hell we are going to do x, y, and z starting on the 18th and by having this in place we are in a stronger position for the launch of phase one to be successful. But no, we are not given any of these guarantees or rationale.
Those who know me know that personal liberty and freedom is my fundamental core / driving principle. I guess that is why some find me a paradox due to my support of LGBTQ rights, standing up for individual privacy rights over the unions, protecting the free speech of any person whether I agree with them or not, and standing in defense of fundamental human rights for all people, be they citizens or not. In this light, I am outraged by the fact that this order took away our rights with the simple stroke of a pen and a press briefing.
One of the other cornerstones that I fight hard for is due process, transparency, and the legislative process. I abhor executive orders because I believe they erode the voice of the citizenry. The legislature remains the voice of the people, a place where you can reach out to your representative or senator and have your opinion heard. And in turn, the legislator makes sure your concerns are shared when drafting and debating any bill that will effect you. By bypassing the legislature, or any public discourse for that matter, the Governor has negated this right. And while this is (hopefully) temporary, it sets a terrible precedent. One man declares an emergency that the taxpayers must abide by without so much as a comment before it becomes law? One man creating rules with no input from the people thumbs its nose at the basic tenants of our democracy. 250 years ago a King was telling us what we could and could not do and those actions set forth the birth of this great nation.
Now some may argue that this was done as an emergency precaution and my counter to that is- why now? Three weeks ago we were running full steam into the eye of the storm, death rates climbing, uncertainty growing, knowing that the surge could very well overwhelm our hospitals - yet nothing, no requirement of masks, hardly even a suggestion. And now, as we have flattened the curve, it is such an emergency that we let nearly an entire week go by before this order goes into effect? This does not make sense.
We were originally told that we must stay inside to keep the hospitals from becoming over run and we must flatten the curve. We did that, we all did an admirable job, and had great success; now the goal line is being moved without explanation and with further restrictions. We were told by the experts that this virus would make its way through our population eventually and our best plan for success was to spread it out because there was no way of stopping it completely. Is the rationale not to simply further delay the inevitable? It is so confusing as this order also tells us not to wear medical grade masks and putting anything over your nose and mouth is acceptable. And what I find even more curious is there is no mention of requiring eye protection which (hate to tell you boys and girls) if some covid mist hits your face- the eyes are a pretty likely target. This is why medical professionals all wear shields or goggles.
Look, I am all in favor of a strong advisory, I have no problem having our government mandating that workers that are required to deal with the public wear masks, I have no problem with having masks available as you enter the grocery store or hardware store; I have no problem with individual stores setting their own requirements. Let’s spend some of this money we are getting front the federal government and have a kickass ad campaign about why masks are important and make sure every person (no matter their class, color, language, or immigration status) has one and understands the rationale.
I am fundamentally bothered by one person telling everyone else what they must do or they will be fined $300 per occurrence. Hell, you can smoke marijuana while driving in Massachusetts and they can’t fine you $300. That being said, if you do get stopped by the police and you aren’t wearing a mask - tell them you have a medical condition that prevents it and the law forbids them requiring you to show proof (again, if it is so critical - why specifically put in this loophole).
As I have said before, I do not envy the job the Governor is trying to do and I honestly believe he is doing what he feels is best. Remember when I had that Venn diagram a few days ago - it is possible to worry about protecting people from covid19 and also worry about government overreach. I worry because we have fought hard for these rights and to have them so easily swept away is incredibly troubling. It is a slippery slope my friends and gravity seems to be really kicking in.
I'm sure there will be some people bothered assuming that I am against wearing masks or saying a person shouldn't wear masks as some sort of protest - that cannot be farther from the truth. I think everyone should do everything they can to avoid the spread of this virus including masks, social distancing, washing hands, etc. But it is tricky to balance public safety with personal liberty and that is the bigger debate I am currently having in my own mind.
And again, I am encouraging everyone to wear masks whenever they can’t social distance. It will save lives, it is good for you, your family, and the person you come in contact with, and the people they will come in contact with. It is simply the right thing to do.
Well, I’m sure many of you will disagree with me but I hope you understand where I am coming from and I thought it was important to share my thoughts with you. I pride myself on being direct, honest, and not like typical politicians - only saying the fluff and what you want to hear and then doing something else behind closed doors.
I take my oath to uphold the Constitution very seriously and I believe it is currently under attack. A well intentioned attack, but an attack nonetheless - and it opens the door for much more deliberate abuse in the future. Just last week the Speaker of the House attempted to change the rules of the house under the guise of this “state of emergency” during an informal session which would have taken away the rights of the minority to force a roll call vote and limit their ability to speak against a bill or an amendment. The consolidation of power in the hands of a few (in all areas of government) may seem trivial or to inside baseball to some, but I feel it is my responsibility to stand up as your representative to fight to preserve our rights.
I’m sorry for getting on my soapbox, but I thought it was important to address. I realize there are many shades of gray and we are all trying to make our way through this the best we can. I just don’t want to come out the other side and lose what has made our country what it is - our freedom.
And my positive bit of news for tonight is to thank all of you who have reached out to volunteer for our Farmers Feeding Families milk distribution this Thursday. Due to the Governor’s order and our attempt to have stellar social distancing we are having to severely limit volunteers and that is why I brought in the National Guard to handle the logistics. I am quite confident that in weeks to come as we get this process really fine tuned and expand it to additional cities - we will need a bunch of bodies and I will be counting on all of you and then some. But the out pouring of support and willingness to do anything was awesome - so thank you.
And on a final note for tonight, today was my son Jack’s 14th birthday. He is such an amazing kid and has been helping me do so many things like stuffing baggies with masks and putting them on the fence to organizing and distributing supplies that people have donated. I am truly blessed and just wish that he would stop growing up. That being said, he is a hockey goalie (so a little touched in the head) and one of his presents is to re-do his room with more of a more mature hockey goalie theme - so if anyone has any old goalie posters or paraphernalia that you want to get rid of, please keep me in mind.
Thank you all for doing all that you are doing and thank you for being there for me. You are my rock and I am so thankful to each and every one of you.
Be safe and wear a mask!