We had so many questions about Charlie Baker’s re-opening plan. And it would seem that some of the very people affected by this decision — supposedly to their benefit — are made very uneasy.
The Massachusetts Council of Churches responded very warily to the authorization that houses of worship can re-open at 40% capacity:
Many Christians will remain in prayer and praise from home at this time. To those Christians that do decide to return now to their buildings, we advise all to act with extreme caution during this pandemic.
We know that faithful Christians across the Commonwealth ache to return to their sanctuary for worship, and that the gathering of groups of people for worship in other states have been occasions for COVID19 transmission. Just because congregations may return to their buildings does not mean they should. “‘All things are lawful for me’, but not all things are beneficial.” St. Paul wrote to the divided Church in Corinth (1 Corinthians 6:12).
Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley has been fielding expressions of unease from her constituents:
Yesterday’s announcement left us with more questions than answers and I have been on the phone with families worried about childcare, faith leaders concerned it is not safe to gather, and small businesses worried about their workers’ health & access to PPE.Nik DeCosta-Klipa, Boston.com 5/19/2020: “Ayanna Pressley urges Charlie Baker to delay reopening plan”
And Baker’s close bud Mayor Walsh seems really uneasy with the loosening of restrictions. (Did they, like, talk?)
“We have to get it right because I don’t think we can afford a second close-down,” said Walsh during a news conference outside City Hall.
… “I’m personally not comfortable with the 25 percent [office capacity] number, to be quite honest with you,” he said.Danny McDonald, Boston Globe, 5/19/2020: “With Mass. starting the reopening process, Walsh strikes a cautious note”
Again, I wonder: What were the epidemiological criteria for these decisions? What are the rules for making the rules? Will more people get sick and die, needlessly? Clarity, consistency, and honesty are essential in the state’s communications; we just can’t sugar-coat the potential consequences or we’ll be right back where we started — with more deaths.
Has Baker provided an Angela Merkel moment, where the math is laid out with clarity? ie. The infection rate must stabilize at one, ie. one infected person only infects on average one other person — not 1.1, not 1.2, etc.
Perhaps it’s more clear on the inside; perhaps Baker and his team know beyond “a variety of factors”, which sounds like a muddle. But that should be a clear part of the messaging to the public, to get buy-in and help us understand the decision-making process. You know, squad goals.