(READING, MA- June 13, 2020) – The Board of Health was made aware of the Rally for Racial Justice planned for the afternoon of Saturday, June 13th. In discussing the Rally, Board members expressed their support while emphasizing the importance of following all orders and guidelines pertaining to COVID-19.
The event did not technically require the Board’s approval, but the organizers shared their plans with the Town Manager who shared them with the Chair of the Board of Health. Plans included enforcing social distancing, requiring masks, and live-streaming for those who wanted to avoid in-person participation.
The Board urges attendees to do everything they can to protect each other from COVID-19 exposure. Per Massachusetts COVID-19 guidance, gatherings in outdoor, unenclosed spaces are permitted, but residents must socially distance and wear face coverings when a 6-foot distance cannot be maintained. (For more information see: https://www.mass.gov/doc/additional-information-on-governors-emergency-order-13/download)
As crowds may be a significant source of exposure, even if outside, residents may consider being tested for COVID-19 following a rally. The following list has nearby testing sites: https://www.mass.gov/doc/ma-covid-19-testing-sites/download
In response to the Rally, the Chair of the Board of Health, Eleanor Tate Shonkoff, stated, “Racial inequities have led to long-standing underlying health disparities in this country. We have much work to do to ensure that people of color have an equal chance at a long and healthy life. We have much work to do to achieve racial justice. I hope that events like this will move us toward that future.”
For more information about the American Public Health Association’s stance on racism see:
For more information about COVID-19 and racial disparities, see: https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/fullarticle/2766098.