December 4, 2020
To: Monica Bharel, MD, MPH, Commissioner of Public Health
c/o Dr. Edward Bernstein, Public Health Council
Dear Commissioner Bharel,
In the Commonwealth, as well as across the nation, the valuable expertise of public health is being ignored, as people heedlessly expose themselves and others to COVID-19.
Tenants in housing facilities for elderly and disabled persons are at elevated risk for serious outcomes or death from COVID because their age and other health conditions make them highly vulnerable.
Prevention is the best protection. But in many housing developments, neither management or tenants enforce or follow the best practice protocols for protection and mitigation.
The potential for a COVID disaster affecting elderly and disabled tenants has escalated because of the increased level of infection in many Massachusetts communities.
We know how to protect our housing communities from COVID-19, an infection that can devastate a housing development as it has already devastated nursing homes. But we aren’t following the essentials of public health in housing for the elderly and disabled, or in many other settings.
We must work together to mitigate—to reduce the harm, illness and deaths—that COVID-19 threatens to bring to our housing community. Our success depends on a coordinated effort where everyone works together: landlord/housing authority, management, custodians, social workers, and tenants.
Bonny Zeh, co-founder of the Stop Bullying Coalition, shares her observations and ideas. Updated 24 October—JH
Gossip and bullying not only target people in public and subsidized housing but also inhibit the essential collaboration needed to protect everyone from COVID. Gossip and bullying together are a contagious social disease that destroys trust and drives us apart from each other. Together, we can find a way to overcome these barriers so all of us can survive this plague.
Public Housing in Georgetown: Trestle Way
Working together takes trust and solidarity. How is trust developed? What does it take for people to develop solidarity and community in a healthy way rather than toxic? I have examined situations that may help to understand these issues by comparing the healthy and the toxic, situations that exemplify the problem and/or a solution.
Here is the story of one public housing community, Trestle Way in Georgetown; the Director, Diane Drinan; and a generous town.