COVID-19 Check-in Survey II

Key Takeaways

  • 95% support Massachusetts’ social distancing policies or feel we should go further.
  • 96% expect we will take a long time to get back to normal or will have to adapt to a permanent new normal.

Summary of Survey

  • A total of 2,662 of people responded to an email and Facebook survey initiated on Saturday, April 25, 2020, with 85% responding on that day.
  • As to Massachusetts’ COVID-19 response, only 5% of respondents stated “We have gone too far — the economic impact is not worth it.”
  • Public support for social distancing remains strong: 65% felt “The balance is right at this time” and 30% felt “We have not gone far enough — people are still doing unnecessary and unsafe things.”
  • As compared to the March survey which was completed mostly before the Governor’s non-essential business closures of March 23, the group feeling “We have not gone far enough” has declined from 54% to 30%, while the group feeling “We have gone too far” has increased slightly from 3% to 5%.
  • 9% reported that they were unemployed as a result of the epidemic while 3% reported they were previously unemployed. The newly unemployed were somewhat more likely to feel our response has gone too far (12%) than the respondents as a whole (5%), but 88% of them felt we have the balance right or have not gone far enough.
  • The share of respondents currently behind on bills dropped slightly from 3% to 2%. This group was more likely to feel we have gone too far (29%) than the respondents as a whole (5%), but 70% of them felt we have the balance right or have not gone far enough.
  • Almost half of respondents (49%) believe that “The virus may change our lifestyles in permanent ways. We may have to adapt to a new normal.” An additional 47% expect that “We will get back to normal eventually after a long period involving at least some retrictions.” Only 3% of respondents expect that “We will get back to normal pretty soon.”

As noted further below and in the discussion of the March survey the survey methods are not designed to be representative. They reflect people who are engaged in the community or in political issues, mostly within my senate district. However, the sample size is large at 2,662 and the results are broadly consistent with recent statewide polling and national polling.

Survey Outreach

The survey outreach was identical to that of the March survey — including direct email, news group email and Facebook, reaching people mostly in my Belmont/Watertown/Boston district. As before, the survey was entirely anonymous.

Survey Timing

Email delivery occurred starting at approximately 8AM on Saturday morning, April 25, 2020 and the Facebook post went up about the same time. The survey was closed a little after 11AM on Monday, April 27. The survey was open for approximately 51 hours. However, 80.5% of the responses came in during the first 12 hours and 87.2% came in during the first 24 hours. There were no major changes of social distancing policies in Massachusetts while the survey was open.

DateHour% of responsecumulative % of response
Saturday, April 25, 202081.8%1.8%
Saturday, April 25, 2020914.9%16.7%
Saturday, April 25, 20201013.6%30.3%
Saturday, April 25, 20201112.3%42.6%
Saturday, April 25, 20201210.0%52.7%
Saturday, April 25, 2020138.3%60.9%
Saturday, April 25, 2020145.4%66.3%
Saturday, April 25, 2020153.9%70.2%
Saturday, April 25, 2020162.6%72.8%
Saturday, April 25, 2020173.0%75.8%
Saturday, April 25, 2020183.2%78.9%
Saturday, April 25, 2020191.5%80.5%
Saturday, April 25, 2020201.3%81.8%
Saturday, April 25, 2020211.4%83.2%
Saturday, April 25, 2020220.9%84.1%
Saturday, April 25, 2020230.8%84.9%
Sunday, April 26, 2020All11.5%96.4%
Monday, April 27, 2020Up to 11AM3.6%100.0%

Survey Participation — Sample Characteristics

Our outreach methods were not designed to produce a representative sample of the community. As discussed previously, the outreach heavily targeted people who are engaged in their local community. It should be added that the outreach would especially favor those interested in online discussion of issues, especially issues of state policy. These engaged people were sent an email with a fairly neutral subject line, exactly as in the March survey or viewed an identically worded Facebook post.

For reasons that are unclear, the 24 hour response to survey was only 71% of the 24 hour response for the March survey. This does not appear to reflect survey timing. We left the survey open through Sunday into Monday (an additional 27 hours covering the same weekdays that the March survey was open ), but did not gather much additional response. The final total response to the survey was 2,662 (excluding 12 consecutive entries from the same browser/ip combination in a period of 40 minutes) as compared to 3,259 for the prior survey. The lower response may reflect factors like what the weather was when the email hit people’s inbox or perhaps people are getting a little tired of COVID news and discussion.

The age and geographic distribution was similar to the March survey. Those 65 and over were slightly more heavily represented at 35% as opposed to 29% in the March Survey.

Age of Respondents (self-reported)

24 or Under502%
25 to 64167663%
65 or over93635%

Zipcode of Respondents (self-reported)

02115 (East Fenway)974%
02116 (Back Bay)1315%
02134 (Allston)763%
02135 (Brighton)42616%
02215 (West Fenway)1094%
02472 (Watertown)55121%
02478 Belmont86032%
All other41215%

Completed March Survey (self-reported)

Completed March112242%
First Time Participant108441%
Not sure45617%

Detailed Results

The full text of the questions can be viewed at this link. The main difference from the March survey was that we did not include an “other” option. We dropped the “shelter in place” question, which people interpreted in different ways and we added a question about outlook for the pandemic.

Question 1: View of Massachusetts’ COVID-19 response so far

Have not gone far enough79030%
Balance right at this time173465%
Have gone too far1385%

Question 2: Work Situation

Retired, at home, etc.65725%
Leaving home to work2108%
Unemployed prior713%
Unemployed by COVID2499%
Working from home147555%

Question 3: Financial Situation

Behind on bills622%
OK but concerned85732%
Secure for the next year174365%

Question 4: Expectations for Pandemic Course

Back to old normal in time126347%
New normal131249%
Back to old normal soon873%

Crosstab A: View of response vs. age

AgeNot enoughJust RightToo Far
24 or Under58%36%6%
25 to 6430%64%6%
65 or over28%69%3%

Crosstab B: View of response vs. zipcode

Not enoughJust RightToo Far
02115 (East Fens)33%60%7%
02116 (Back Bay)33%63%4%
02134 (Allston)37%59%4%
02135 (Brighton)35%60%5%
02215 (West Fenway)39%60%2%
02472 (Watertown)32%63%5%
02478 (Belmont)24%71%5%
All Other28%66%6%

Crosstab C: View of response vs. work situation

Not EnoughJust RightToo Far
Retired, at home, etc.26%71%3%
Leaving home to work35%57%9%
Unemployed prior to COVID32%62%6%
Unemployed by COVID changes31%57%12%
Working from home30%65%4%

Crosstab D: View of response vs. financial situation

Not EnoughJust RightToo Far
Behind on bills35%35%29%
OK but concerned37%56%7%
Secure for a year26%71%3%

Crosstab E: View of response vs. pandemic course

Not EnoughJust RightToo Far
Back to old normal in time22%73%5%
Possible new normal39%58%3%
Back to old normal soon2%53%45%

Crosstab F: View of response vs. prior survey participation

Not EnoughJust RightToo Far
Completed March28%69%4%
First Time Participant31%61%7%
Not Sure31%66%3%

The anonymous row by row results can be downloaded in spreadsheet form for additional analysis here.

Comparison to National Polling

Its timing is different and its questions are different, but the following poll from the Pew Research Center is broadly consistent with the present survey in showing strong support for social distancing.

Large majorities say restrictions on travel, closures of businesses have been necessary responses

Published by Will Brownsberger

Will Brownsberger is State Senator from the Second Suffolk and Middlesex District.

158 replies on “COVID-19 Check-in Survey II”

  1. I agree with you, Will, that we need to maintain and improve our social distancing efforts. I am not sure how we get there, particularly in neighborhoods where I work where I see a fair percentage of men of many different ages, ethnicities, races, not wearing face masks. By contrast almost all the women I see in the neighborhoods are social distancing and wearing masks, unless they’re young and white. So, I don’t know how we make this social distancing and stay at home necessity more effective.
    I run a youth program and my staff now work remotely connecting with youth virtually. Still, we deliver food bags to families and neighbors once a week and I give my staff kudos, they all mask up for shopping and filling the bags, then call the families and make curbside deliveries.
    For the future–in the survey, I checked that after a long period inside, we will get back to normal–but I actually think, it will not really be normal–we will have this fear for a couple of years, and then need to be adaptable enough to go back to social distancing when something like this hits us again. If only we could also use this time to figure out how to maintain some of the positive changes that have come from social distancing–cleaner air, calmer streets, local supply chains and food, businesses (some) concentrating on doing good, understanding community responsibility and interconnectedness rather than just going after profit…

  2. Thank you Senator Brownsberger for all that you do. I do see people in the street and customers in stores wearing masks for the most part. My concern is with the employees. I was in Target in the Fenway this week and the employees were not wearing masks. I have seen this in some supermarkets too. I think mask wearing should be mandatory for both employees and customers.

    1. That is a problem. Some supermarket employees (not that many) do not care about making their nose and keeping social distance. Lack of proper hygiene education is the key issue.

  3. Dr. Fauci did not recommend masks for all at first. Then he did (not sure of date) and added that they protect others from whatever you are exhaling. Now they are a big deal. Okay, but why weren’t we told that at first. I like to walk and look for places where passing someone in the fresh air it is still possible to maintain 6 ft. distance as recommended. I always wear one in supermarket , drug store etc.

  4. I answered ‘balance right’, given the choice — but my views and the situation are more complex. More outreach and education are needed to improve compliance. Perhaps a larger group than pure ‘contact tracers’ might be employed, or volunteer, to do this, distributing masks and explaining the reasons for their use. Outside supermarket entrances would be good places — where people are anyway lined up. And online modules for students in online education. But there is also overreach, such as Waltham’s closing of parks, which include areas much less crowded than city streets and easier to practice distancing in. And increasing ‘stay home’ and ‘shelter in place’ messaging will reduce compliance and be long-term unsustainable. Distributing masks and educating in their use when needed (NOT always when outside one’s door, but in crowded outdoor and all public indoor places) seems right. More and more unreasonable restrictions will lead to less
    compliance and less success.

  5. Testing, testing, testing! It looks like Massachusetts is starting to turn the corner, but what little testing we are doing is still turning up way too many positives.

    1. And Contact tracing! Widespread testing has much less benefit unless we trace the contacts of those who test positive and then isolate those people, etc.

  6. It would help me to have more of a sense of what the “new normal” might be.

  7. I was sent a photo from the 1918 epidemic with people with signs
    saying: “Wear a mask or go to jail!”
    I personally like the idea. I wear one to protect you, thank you.

  8. Despite daily news of how bad the crisis is in Mass., many people in Belmont are not following recommendations. I don’t think the message has penetrated that even relatively small amounts of “cheating” can have large implications for the infection rate. There needs to be clearer messaging — and orders — from the Governor about wearing masks and maintaining our “bubbles.” I also don’t think people understand that each of us is potentially a source of infection, even if we’re not sick.

  9. Dr Fauci was right when he first said Covid19 was just another “seasonal flu”. I don’t know why he changed his opinion to “Covid19 is the worst disease since the dark ages”.

  10. Encapsulating the comments contained herein, the undisciplined lack of mask wearing is unacceptable; it must be mandatory. A concerted effort might help in providing means of learning and entertainment via internet/facebook for both children, teenagers and adults; Zoom and Face-timing are excellent tools. (Binge watching Netflix can get olde!) Organizing drive bys for special occasions could be something community leaders might step up to lead. Watertown cancelled the annual Memorial Day parade; it could have been conducted as a Drive-By, no one watching from the sidelines but everyone safely enclosed in a motor vehicle (think out side of the box). We have four adult children 11 grand children and one newbie great grand son; we observed via Zoom one of our granddaughters get married at Payson Park Church in order to make things legal in the event of an unlikely tragedy; formal wedding, hopefully, scheduled for November w/reception at the Oakely Country Club. (I included that in order to have folks smile at some good news during this pandemic) I have another granddaugther, a RN, working in the cornorary ward at St Anne’s Hospital in Taunton, and volunteers for caring f/Wufan Virus patients at Morton Hospital in Fall River – she is too tired to talk to us for any meaningful length of time, lives alone. Of our 4 children, 2 go off to work ea day; 1 works at home; 1 shelters in place; 1 son-in-law goes off to work; 2 daughters-in-law work at home. My wife and I shelter in place, I was laid off 27 March, but have a Marine Corps pension and we both receive Social Security: I walk daily the 3.5 miles around the Charles River from Watertown Sq along Nanamtum Rd over the Brighton Bridge and along No. Beacon Rd to Watertown Sq; most walkers and runners wear face masks, but too many do not. Sidewalks are too narrow to maintain the recommended 6 feet separation (estimate that I encounter about 6 – 12 others, depending on time of day and weather conditions). I will soon be 85, my wife will soon be 78; while we do not have any financial concerns, we are concerned for the Nation’s economy and our security from without. I believe that health concerns, while critical, must now take second place to economic concerns. We live in a dangerous world; there are several well armed protagonists currently probing our vulnerabilities, and one in particular needs to be confronted in a most meaningful manner, in strong terms, and let the chips fall where they may…………………. or be content with being a subservient Nation under the heel of a merciless adversary. Any Nation that possessed knowledge of a dangerous, highly contageous virus, concealing that knowledge, and releasing thousands of its citizens to travel throughout the world, meanwhile buying up protective equipment and materials is no friend to humanity at large, and must be dealt with in appropriate form. What has happened is actually much worse than Pearl Harbor, just not as dramatic; so far the near 60 thousand dead Americans will most certainly increase, with no end in sight. No Nation should be allowed to skate free from that kind of responsiblity. I understand that folks want to just concentrate on immediate survival from this awful pandemic; waiting around before meaningful action is taken is an invitation to defeat.

  11. I am very concerned that those in jails and prison and those who work there are going to get infected an bring that infection back to the community at large. There seems to be extreme resistance on behalf of the DOC, sheriffs, the commissioner, the secretary of EOPS, the parole board and the governor to releasing prisoners. They constantly refer to prisoners convicted of violent offenses as violent, assuming that we like them believe that “criminals” don’t change like other people and even many years later are unreformed. Immediate release of a large number of prisoners is needed both for their health and safety (for which we have made the prisons and jails responsible) and for the health of the wider community. Remember there is a constant traffic of officers and other staff in and out of prisons.

    1. I agree. Business as usual in the jails/prisons means it’s a mandatory COVID infection. That’s (ahem) not a usual punishment, and it’s cruel.

  12. We’ve been hamstrung from the start due to our failure to institute contact tracing and testing. We had ample time to begin that process at our Airports and other points of entry.

    And so, we have been operating from an incomplete picture of the viral spread. It follows, that we’ve had a flawed response since the start. All of our decisions, assessments, measures, etc have all been based on flawed assumptions. Thus, everything we hear and do, or have done, is speculation based.

    The Northeastern University model is closet to reality. It stands in stark contrast to the state’s “confirmed cases” model, and is therefore, a false narrative. In brief, our ‘official’ 1st confirmed case, was actually 2,300. Long before ever hearing of the NEU model, the assumptions it proposes is a lot closer to the way I have been making my own decisions and assessments. Only this week are we finally getting a glimpse at some higher numbers, and that’s only a result of increased testing, but still, these ‘official’ numbers are still not being publicized along side the predictive modeling numbers. There’s a lot of talk among those commenting here, about the lack of public compliance and seriousness folks displaying toward this threat. As there should be, since they keep hearing how few cases there are. If you want compliance, they public needs to hear about the projected models for what kind of numbers are REALLY out there, not just “confirmed”. Publicizing the “confirmed” numbers, isn’t helping, it’s just simply misleading.

    Let’s face facts, the dam has broken, it’s past the point to prevent the flood. We’re stuck now in an extended cycle of damage control, instead having to chase the flood waters where they lead us, until some hopeful point, perhaps a year from now, if the water recedes, visa-vi a vaccine.

    Until then, were saddled by these desperate, broad, imprecise, widespread isolation measures. Why, because it’s spreading at a rate far faster than our capacity to test and track. If we can miraculously ramp up and deploy a massive, testing campaign? Well, maybe, just maybe, we can become more targeted, if not, we’re in for a VERY LONG state of hibernation.

  13. I would like to know if the state will allow businesses have enforceable Mask to enter rules and be masked to walk around requirements after the lock down is lifted. And if the state will allow businesses to refuse service for non mask wearers and law enforcement fine non mask wearers walking around? It seems that compliance with masking rules goes way up if there is a consequence for not following the rules.

  14. I picked “the balance is right” because I had to choose between that and “we need to do more.” I think that if everyone followed the state and municipal guidelines, it would be enough.

    I don’t know how we can achieve that, except that part of the problem is that there aren’t enough masks. There’s not much point in telling people “you have to wear a mask” when there’s no way to give one to someone who says “you’re right, but I can’t find one.”

  15. I am waiting for my covid-19 test results as I write this. On my way home from the testing site in Watertown I saw scores of folks in Belmont w/o masks. I am very concerned that the governor hasn’t done enough.

    DCR parks should severely limit access. At Beaver Brook Reservation right behind Belmont Manor where many have died, dogs roam free unleashed, and people ignore the social distancing advisory. Baker should have made it an ORDER. big difference don’t you think.

  16. We have put a hold on our mortgage payment for six months with the expectation that we pay all months missed in six months. While I am happy not to have to worry about the mortgage payment at this time (my husband is no longer working due to COVID 19) I know we won’t be able to pay the full amount due. I’ve heard that in some areas the missed payments will just be tacked on the end. Is this something that can happen here in MA?

  17. Will, I hesitate to be a stick-in-the-mud, but what productive purpose do you believe is served by asking people to fill out this survey and comment here?

    We have enough data at this point to know with a high degree of certainty what the impact is of various different levels of social distancing and sheltering in place. Massachusetts is large enough that we have enough data on a daily basis — deaths, positive tests, hospital admissions and discharges — to determine with a high degree of certainty what the curve is going to look like if we do less/more. We’re getting more data every day as we ramp up the number of tests being performed daily.

    We also know that the sheltering in place, as crucial as it is for saving lives, is having a catastrophic impact on the finances of individuals, families, and businesses. You shouldn’t need a survey or comments here to tell you that we need to be doing more to support people financially than the federal or state government is doing. I suppose your survey might give you a small amount of quantitative data about how bad off people are financially, but given that the sample size is small and self-selected, it seems unlikely that it will tell you how much you don’t already know.

    I don’t think you need a survey or comments here to tell you what the problems are and what needs to be done to solve them. So what’s the point?

    This country has suffered painfully at the ends of a president and reactionary political party that have spent decades rejecting expertise and warping reality to suit their purposes. I want you and other politicians to be clearly, aggressively, actively rejecting that approach. I want you to be asking the experts what the potential problems are, how to collect meaningful data about them, how to draw meaningful conclusions from the data, and how to solve the problems that the data highlight. As important as it is for you to listen to your constituents, I do not think these are circumstances in which “listen to your constituents” is the best approach. Trump listens to his constituents, and look where that got us.

    Please, talk to and listen to the experts.

    1. Let me guess: you don’t like Trump.


      Yes, Hillary DID win the 200-meter low-hurdles. Alas, the race that mattered was the mile. Which Don won handily. Can Democrats never desist from being sore-losers?

      MUST so many citizens of Massachusetts (home of Salem’s infamous witch trials) blame everything on their current universal bogeyman, OMB: Orange Man Bad?

      Anyway, “experts” said Ms. Clinton was a shoe-in for prez. And experts like Fauci told us AIDS would kill gays and non-gays at an equal rate. He was wrong…as experts sometimes are (mostly when science is politicized).

      Why not heed the sage wisdom of Professor Gershwin:

      “They all laughed at Christopher Columbus
      When he said the world was round
      They all laughed when Edison recorded sound

      They all laughed at Wilbur and his brother
      When they said that man could fly
      They told Marconi, wireless was a phony
      It’s the same old cry

      They all laughed at Rockefeller Center
      Now they’re fighting to get in
      They all laughed at Whitney and his cotton gin

      They all laughed at Fulton and his steamboat
      Hershey and his chocolate bar
      Ford and his Lizzie kept the laughers busy
      That’s how people are”

      So…who’ll have the last laugh now?

      CHINA: “How can we ruin America economically, socially, and scientifically with minimum effort?”

      BATSOUP: “Hold my Corona!”

    2. Jon, I listen to experts and read their opinions at length and I take their advice very seriously. But knowing what people are experiencing, what people are understanding and what they are therefore willing to do is also a critical part of leadership. We are in this together and we’ll get through it together if we keep talking.

      1. Right on, Will Brownsberger. You are giving your constituents a platform to be heard; how else could you effectively obtain immediate and spontaneous comments on so crucial a topic. The only thing that I find offensive are comments that are insultingly negative rather than being helpful and positive. There is a way and manner to address opinions to which someone disagrees, however, to be insulting is not acceptable..

  18. Approaches to deal with a disruption of a month or so begin to break down as quarantines are extended further into the future. Two areas in particular need to get attention now so better solutions are available as they are increasingly needed.
    1) The delivery of remote educational services by public schools remains weak. If this continues into the fall, the quality and intensity need to ramp up or the country will pay a huge long-term price. Schools need to have regularly-scheduled online classes and much more engagement with assignments, evaluations, classmates, and teachers than is currently happening. Universities and private schools are already doing this in a much more engaged way that Belmont Public Schools. Maybe other towns in your district are as well.

    The are opportunities to develop systems and approaches on a state-wide level that may offer economies of scale. However, if DESE continues to adopt a consensus-based approach with all affected parties, any solutions they eventually come up will with be very slow and reflect lowest-common denominator approaches rather than the creative and innovative approaches that are needed.

    For a better outcome, the state needs to identify a handful of core functional problems with delivering high quality remote learning and run contests so multiple ideas are competed against each other — something more akin to an X-Prize approach and a negotiated agreement between government, union, and parent bureaucracies.

    2) Online-based employment for people with less professional experience. For highly trained and educated people, working remotely from home is relatively feasible and income levels comparable to their prior situation. Delivery people and others in the supply chain still have work options as well. But there are massive numbers of people who worked in service areas that may never recover. And if quarantines continue, the State, and possibly groups of states, should be banding together with management consulting firms or others to identify compensated work that this group can do from their homes. Ideally the work would also help them develop skills that put them in a better position when the economy finally reopens. But even if the jobs simply earn money to keep them afloat that is quite important.

  19. I am ok with hunkering down as long as needed because I had already been working from home. I hope this global crisis somehow motivates us to address the pre-existing crises of climate change, poverty, hunger, extreme inequality, money controlling our democracy, and others. It seems we don’t pay attention to those because they do not directly threaten the rich and powerful; we are paying attention to the virus because the rich are not protected. Let us wake up to the on-going crises and mobilize globally for a better world with a fair economy and real democracy.

  20. I wish more people understood that the mask is mostly not intended to protect the person wearing the mask, but rather to protect everyone else (and everyone should wear one in public). When we talk, we mist and spray, and it doesn’t take an N-95 mask to shut that down. Here’s a short paper and video about this:

    I’ve seen other studies of contagion in restaurants and call centers, and this bug definitely travels through the air, but it doesn’t waft indefinitely.

    I’d very much want for everyone not absolutely alone outdoors to wear a mask. If you go for a walk or job around Fresh Pond, you know there will be other people, wear a mask, please. As to hard to breathe, it gets damp, I wore a relatively tight-fitting mask for a 13-mile bike ride in and out of Cambridge to run errands, it was tolerable, you’ll cope.

    And again, the mask is NOT to protect the wearer from ultra-tiny virus particles (nice if it does, but that’s not why masks are needed), it’s intended to keep you from misting everyone around you.

  21. I agree with our senator doing such an effort to keep public safety to a high priority.
    I go to the supermarket twice a week, but I notice some people just touring the supermarket without picking any goods and not wearing a mask. About 70% of people running on the street are not covering their breath and do not keep social distancing when surpassing pedestrians. It is the 5th week of stay-at-home, the new case number is still rising. If there are enough ICU beds in our hospitals now and we make the business open too soon, the ICU beds will be filled in two or three weeks. A better method should take into effect.

  22. My main concern now is that some people still are not wearing masks and/or keeping enough physical distance in grocery stores. I’m okay with people not wearing masks when getting exercise outside as long as they keep at least 6 feet from others. In fact, when I get aerobic exercise, which I need to do to maintain my physical and mental health during this very stressful time, it’s hard to breathe deeply enough with a mask on. But when I do aerobic exercise, I am very careful to stay 6 feet or more away from other people. However, I see some people not respecting physical distance outside, especially young adults. I agree with what Martyn wrote above that we need to develop a culture with a more balanced attitude about freedom to do what we want as individuals in relation to paying attention to what is good for the whole population/community so that people do not act in ways that harm others or put them at significant risk of harm. Too many people still are not thinking about the health of everyone else.

  23. Everyone needs to wear a mask when out in public. It is disrespectful not to do so.

  24. The “return to normal” question is not specific to enough options. There will be a new normal — it may have parts of the old normal — we don’t know about reinfection, herd immunity, etc. To believe (hope) for a return to normal is impossible – there are just too many variables, and many of the “normal” pieces are likely not to continue into the future, if they survive at all. Even the good ones (lowered pollution, less driving, etc.)

  25. Thank you Senator Brownsberger for all you are doing. I believe the public has responded pretty well as a whole. I think we need to plan publicly for how we can begin to exit the lockdown. The virus is with us and we need to learn to live with it by adopting the right evidence-based protective measures, including masks, coupled with a measured return to work and school.

    1. And Hilligula’s presidential run is dead. And buried (though her supporters treat it vampirishly, hoping for yet another rising). Let it go. If they must, her supporters can leave pansies at the gravesite.

      Yet, typically, many of her supporters can’t let go. Instead, they hold voodoo totem poles (carved to curse The Don) in death-grips…like demented Druids.

  26. It seems that the longer this goes on, the more careless some people are getting. Yesterday was a beautiful day and as I was driving, I saw many people walking/biking without masks. I see a lot of young people in my community ignoring social distancing and not wearing masks. The longer people ignore this, the more people are going to get sick and die. I think masks should be readily available and mandatory right now. Antibody tests must be expanded beyond just a few high density areas of the city. People of all races and economic means are dying from the disease, and should all have access to testing. I don’t want to get infected and die because someone else was cavalier and selfish about protecting those around them.

  27. 1. Is there a state-wide plan for attempting to contain the virus?

    a. If so, where is it, and is it considered by epidemiologists to be plausible — that is to say, not merely a bit of specious consolation for the plebes and/or a money maker for a few? (Aren’t interstate commerce and freedom of movement going to be pretty serious countervailing forces to such an effort?)

    b. If not, when can we look for a plan for living with the virus until the hoped-for vaccine makes its appearance?

    2. Where is the Commonwealth with regard to setting up vote-by-mail for the November election?


  28. I feel that mask use should be mandatory for both customers and all service workers until vaccination and antibody testing is widely available and well used. The economy can get back into gear even if we are all wearing masks.

  29. I agree with many of the comments about the need to be as safe as possible. When outside, try to social distance as much as possible and wear masks any time in public. I think teenagers are getting a bit too much blame on this forum, as I have seen respectful and responsible teenage behavior too. I know of teenage groups safely collecting food for the greater Boston Food bank and creating masks.

    However, I do not think we are thinking of the cost-benefit analysis of a long term health issues with the quarantine. The 4/26 New York Times. “Fear of the coronavirus is leading people with life-threatening emergencies, like a heart attack or stroke, to stay home when ordinarily they would have rushed to the emergency room, preliminary research suggests. Without prompt treatment, some patients, have suffered permanent damage or have died.” The delay in volume of testing is maddening, but as that ramps up and more PPE is available, we can not be overly cautious about reengaging an loosening our restrictions. We need to be responsible, but not so overly cautious that people with non-Covid issues avoid or can not get treatment. Not just emergency rooms, but physical therapy for chronic pain issues, 1:1 mental health counseling, and a variety of other health services that people need and there will be long term suffering from if we do not reengage in the relative near term (meaning, I can’t imagine this current state being feasible beyond June.)

  30. I can’t understand why people are not taking this seriously. If we had all locked down for like 6 weeks at the beginning, we would have probably been able to control this better. The longer people stay in the streets, the longer the rest of us will be locked up, because the virus will continue to spread and kill.

  31. As a physician, it is becoming clear that the most serious risks of death, hospitalization and severe illness are impacting those who are over 60, and especially over 80. While the damage there is immense and hospitals like mine continue to see large numbers of critically ill patients, it is also clear that younger people, especially under 50, who are healthy, are at very, very low risk of death and serious illness. The economic damage to that group is real and growing. Although a vaccine and/or effective therapy would be amazing, those are not guaranteed to emerge and if so, may not emerge for a long time. Given these facts, I think we need to plan to let kids and college kids go back to school in the fall, protect their teachers and professors at risk and allow business to start to reopen, with young and healthy workers, implementing distancing, PPE and virus and antibody screening in the best manner possible. The economic toll is exceeding the direct toll from COVID related illness and we need to plan for an inability to stop the virus and start to get economic activity back.

    1. Very well said. I don’t understand why our leaders here in MA and elsewhere are ignoring this blindingly obvious fact (the varying levels of risk by age) and not taking it into account as they consider when and how to re-open the economy, especially in the face of the mounting economic toll the shutdowns are taking on everyone.

  32. Senator Brownsberger, thank you for being such a great communicator and asking us our comments. And good to read what’s coming in from my neighbors. My comments regard the eventual start-up of activities. I know the MBTA is planning for this, but I haven’t heard about park and conservation land managers. I very much hope they are planning some strategy for allowing visitors in limited numbers (and camping!). We so need to get back out in green spaces again but obviously we can’t all go at once. Somehow make phone and computer sign-ups for times or something should be possible (and make sure that there is equitable access, not just online sign-ups). And staff monitoring social distancing, one-way trails, etc. Frustrating there is so much space closed, but I know we would ALL swarm there if these spaces were suddenly open. So I hope state, city and private park/conservation land managers are strategizing for future safe access. Not that I’m going crazy or anything! 🙂 Thanks again.

  33. The beautiful thing about masks and gloves, is that they are extremely effective… when used properly. There is indeed a HUGE sense of false security among the populace (Frustrating more in an educational center such as Massachusetts), that wearing a mask and gloves provides immunity. We also need to change/wash our protective equipment regularly, wash hands frequently, and keep our distances.

    Will, thank you for your continued efforts and keeping in touch with your constituency. This emergency will pass, and I hope we will all be better prepared for whatever may come in the future.

  34. I will no longer shop at the Star Market in the west Fenway. I went to the “golden Hour” at the appointed time and the store quickly filled up with young people. Unmasked stockers were clogging up the aisles, chatting with fellow employees. Scary for an old woman like me.

  35. Dear Will,
    I emailed with you about this a few weeks ago and at that time you said you thought we’d have to “wait and see” on this particular issue and it looks to me like not much has changed so . . .
    What can we do about employers who do not provide (relatively) safe working conditions for their employees at Essential Businesses? So far almost all of the attention I’ve seen has been focused on essential retail businesses, but there are lots of employees at other types of businesses that are open and expecting/requiring their employees to work without making provisions for social distancing on the job and/or providing masks, frequent hand washing opportunities, etc. The “Guidance” from our state agencies uses phrases like “urge” and “should provide” but nothing stronger, and again the examples those documents provide mostly relate to retail businesses. Some “Essential Business” employers are making reasonable efforts, either voluntarily or under pressure, but others are just flying below the radar and being, in my language, schmucks because their businesses are not obvious to the public. What/how can we do more for those employees, the household members they come home to, and the community in which we all live?

      1. I hope we can address it on a statewide basis because there are many situations where employees live in one municipality and work in another. I think the first thing we need to do is to enlarge and enforce the state “Guidance” that has already been issued by the Executive Office of Housing and Economic Development. I’m advocating for that now – please see an email to your Senate email address.

  36. On a positive note, as someone who is unemployed because my category of business is closed, I’ve been pleasantly surprised and very impressed with how fast and efficiently the Massachusetts UI system has worked for me, even including the new Federal bonus.

  37. Thank you! And a big thank you to Governor Baker who I think is doing a fantastic job despite PPE and mask orders being confiscated by the federal government. I DO think we should be more aggressive re: holding people accountable who are out in public without a mask and who disregard social distancing. Some of the behavior in supermarkets has been appalling. I think we should start fining people for disrespecting the requirements to wear a mask and social distance. All of our lives are at stake and they need to be held accountable.

  38. Dunno. Absent control groups, one can say just about anything about Covid-19.

    For example, that it didn’t kill more because, well, Bigfoot heroically chose not to show his face at Easter. Thus:

    (1) Bigfoot didn’t show.
    (2) Covid-19 so far killed 25,386 fewer humans than the flu.
    (3) Thus, Bigfoot saved the USA

    In Italy, the Lombardy region WAS hit pretty hard. Most of the dead, though, were 80-90 years old. Many were also Chinese workers in the fashion industry there. I suspect many were men…Chinese males being heavy smokers. Plus the region has the worst air-pollution in Europe.

    That’s hardly a representative demographic with which to kabosh the American economy.

    Was everyone equally at risk per hemophiliacs…who died due to blood donated by AIDS-infected gays?

    Why are exceptions now considered the rules? Where are bonafide scientists? Why aren’t they quashing the hysteria?

    It seems that if you are relatively young and relatively healthy, you’ll be fine. Yet we’ve imposed near-martial law instead of focusing on the elderly…especially in nursing homes…and those with compromised immune systems (smokers, cancer patients, etc.).

    Historically, sane people weighed risks and benefits. Cities didn’t automatically surrender to enemies because 3 grannies, 4 babies, and 7 young men might die in battle. Yet look how quickly citizens have given up their liberties here and now! All they needed to be told was that All Hell was about to break loose…and Big Mommy would save them (at a price).

    Who cares how many people get “infected” by the China Flu? It’s DEATHS that matter. Just like we don’t care how many folks get buzzed on booze in and out of bars. We care about drunk-driving deaths.

    We’ve become a nation of Sensitive Sallys…worried more about hurting imagined-others’ feelings than protecting ourselves. Those who yammer about “China Flu” being racist were awfully silent about West Nile Fever, German Measles, Spanish Flu, and other origin-of-outbreak medical monickers.

    There’s an odd masochism at work, too. A fascination with being “under the gun.” A need for bragging about “victim merit badges.”

    Some have mocked Trump’s support of Hydroxychloroquine as a “possible” cure. Why? Do they hate him more than possible solutions?

    They also mocked the idea that fresh air and sunlight might kill the virus (which would counter stay-inside urgings).

    Me? I’m for brain-storming. That is, put all ideas on the table, mocking/preferring none. Then have apolitical scientists test for possible solutions.

    We need facts and level-heads now, not political warfare. I’m sure millions of people laughed at the idea of fleas causing the Black Death. And that eating oranges could cure scurvy in the Royal Navy. Many similarly “odd” notions later became standard-operating-procedures.

    Not so long ago in human history, doctors didn’t wash their hands before surgery. And put sawdust on surgical theater floors. And mocked Pasteur’s “insane” idea about “tiny little animals” (germs that no one could see) causing disease.

    How will we look back on the Great Covid-19 Caper?

    What if half of all citizens are given a placebo…or told to go mask-less…or not to physically-distance themselves? Would outcomes vary? At all?

    Again, what makes sense to me is protecting/sheltering the elderly and those with complicating diseases. Current public practices seem overkill for a flu-like virus that is (thankfully) under-killing.

    We used to mock China for controlling so many aspects of its citizens’ lives. Now we seem all-to-ready to surrender to the same controls. We just might eagerly give up germ-spreading cash for “tracking-everything” plastic-cards…ones that encode vaccinations, bank account numbers, political views, etc.

    NB Benjamin Franklin: “Those who would give up essential liberty, to purchase a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.”

  39. In six months to a year we probably will have effective treatments for Covid-19. In a year and a half to two years we will have an effective vaccine for Covid-19. In two to three years most everyone will have been vaccinated for Covid-19 and hopefully the vaccine will be effective for more than a year.
    But within the year many, maybe most small business will be out of business, especially those that survive on small margins like restaurants. Large national chains will be most of the survivors in many fields. Federal aid, often too little and too late will help but will not be enough. State governments need to step up now with new taxes on citizens whose income and wealth is in the top 10%. There is a role for municipal governments, but state governments have to take the lead. The new taxes should be used in innovative ways such as property tax relief for small businesses and to accelerate the move to a non-fossil fuel-based economy. The Covid-19 pandemic is an “acute” crisis. Climate change could be characterized as a “chronic” crisis. Both crises have the potential to kill and impoverish us if we don’t act now and act boldly.

  40. We need TESTING and TRACKING!! I see loads of discussion about masks, and while they’re necessary, by themselves, they just keep us where we are. We cannot get back to even a semblance of semi-normal until we have widespread (VERY widespread) testing (for both virus and antibodies) and tracking. I don’t know exactly how many tests we will need (test every person monthly? or maybe widespread random sampling will do), but we need VASTLY MORE than we are doing now. Only once we get the number of cases down quite low through this painful shutdown, and then institute widespread, systematic testing and contact tracking, will we be able to safely open up a little (and then only with continued social distancing, masks etc.). Otherwise we keep doing what we’re doing (and suffer the corresponding economic harm) until we get a vaccine in a year or two. Please, Will, let’s put in place a widespread, systematic testing/tracking system so we can safely loosen the restrictions a little and get people back to work.

  41. I hope there is a silver lining to this. I hope we appreciate our local businesses, our friends and family, and our local parks and waterways more. I hope we stop driving and flying as much. I hope that we have better safety nets both on the local and federal level and listen to what people like Bernie Sanders have been saying for YEARS. We NEED social safety nets, better climate protection, better paid work-from-home and medical leave for our families. We need this more than we need failed military projects, presidential golf outings, and giant payouts to foreign countries. America first means adopting some socialist ideas and moving away from ignorance and selfishness.

  42. My only comment at this time you already pretty much stated for me Willl. I think we need to go further with requiring, not just suggesting, that masks or face coverings (scarves work well when masks aren’t available) be worn in places like grocery stores. I would prefer not to go into any stores but sometimes it is a necessity (i.e. I can not find any toilet paper online anywhere). If everyone’s mouth and nose is covered with some kind of cloth at all times, that would work wonders in preventing further transmission in such instances. But I still see customers being welcomed into grocery stores with no mouth/nose covering whatsoever. Should be required – on public transportation too. I’m also still sad and shocked about the unavailability of the best available (i.e. N95’s) So I can get pieces of cloth, but not the best tested masks. It’s worse for our health care professionals. They should all have full suits and be completely covered with operational respirators like we see in Asia. Shocking to me that in Boston I haven’t seen any health care providers protected in this way. Not just a shortage of proper PPE, but a complete lack of proper PPE. Very disturbing.

  43. I have worked since the ’80s in many aspects of clean room design and aseptic techniques in a surgical setting. Facemask wearing by the general public with techniques as I have routinely observed is either, at best, doing nothing other than virtue signaling (admittedly hugely popular in MA), or placing the wearers and those around them at greater risk.

    Don’t think so? Please post here your well-controlled randomized data showing ANY benefit of such practices, particularly in attenuating the transmission and inspiration of airborne 90-130 nm viruses that can survive for days on surfaces, thus when collected on my bandana, handy for later transfer to wearer and others.

  44. I believe that the results of the survey indicate that most of the respondents are middle or upper-class and have enough savings to support themselves without earnings for at least the next several months.

    This is not true of the rest of the country and those residents of MA who did not respond. The pressure to re-open business and for people to return to work has been great, so much so that liberal governors like Cuomo and Newsom are talking about re-opening more businesses in the next two or three weeks. That will probably set off a new surge in the epidemic. We are caught between the pressure to re-open by those who can no longer support themselves and the danger of re-starting the epidemic. A solution: A universal basic income for each person.

    1. I agree! Why, really, should anyone have to work? COVID is just one of the many undesirable aspects of work, particularly in the dreaded private sector where you might actually, as compared to Government employ, have to WORK! Can’t we all just sit safely, comfortably at home and wait for a check in the mail from the Government? Guaranteed. Basic. It has not been noted on this thread, but we can take some pleasure that at least all of the Government workers have been sent home on fully paid vacations, where they can wait for additional income to come from the Government in the form of bailout checks. We have concentrated 100% of the suffering on the private sector. That should be kept in mind as we look to the a model for the future.

  45. Thank you for your good work, Will. I hope that the comments will encourage your colleagues to support the notion of masks (as an expectationrather than an option—with consequences for
    non-compliance) and social distancing as quid pro quos essential for the common good without which easing can not move forward.

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