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Why Is Boston Still In A Public Health Emergency? City Councilors Seek Hearing

BOSTON (CBS) -- It's been nearly two years since a public health emergency was declared in Boston for the coronavirus pandemic. And while a similar order at the state level has long been lifted, the city remains under a state of emergency.

Now two Boston City Councilors are ordering a hearing to find out why the emergency continues amid a recent decline in COVID cases and the availability of vaccines and boosters. Councilors Frank Baker and Erin Murphy are calling for a meeting "to discuss the ongoing state of emergency and the rationale for its continuation."

The Boston Public Health Commission first declared the emergency on March 15, 2020 and extended it indefinitely on April 24, 2020. Gov. Charlie Baker lifted the state of emergency for Massachusetts in June 2021 as COVID vaccines became widely available.

Councilor Baker stated that the ongoing situation in Boston "limits the power" of the council, and limits the rights of municipal bargaining units and businesses.

"State of emergency declarations must be driven by objective public health data," the hearing order states. "All other cities and towns in the Commonwealth that have contemplated mandates have done so with discussion or support from their local health or select boards. . . The Boston Public Health Commission Board has not met monthly to discuss the public health mandates."

Mayor Michelle Wu said Tuesday that Boston is "not yet there" when it comes to ending a face mask mandate in the city. Boston's community positivity rate is 7.4% - slightly above the Public Health Commission's threshold for concern - and there are 387 daily hospitalizations, Wu said.

The city councilors are inviting representatives from the commission and Mayor Wu's administration to attend the hearing.


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