Boston City Council meeting April 15, 2020

Jordan Erb

All councilors were present for the Boston City Council meeting on April 15, 2020, which was held virtually through the video-conferencing app Zoom and live-streamed. The following dockets were presented and discussed:

Docket #0638

Councilor Ricardo Arroyo ordered a hearing on proposed guidelines for ventilator distribution and Intensive Care Unit beds in the event of a shortage.

The hearing is intended to make sure health inequities do not dictate medical care during the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to Arroyo, the goal of the hearing would be to discuss how to equitably distribute ventilators. People of color are more likely to have pre-existing conditions, but are less likely to receive a ventilator if they are in need, he said. He hopes racism won’t play a role in who gets help during the pandemic.

“If we deny ventilators and ICU beds based on pre-existing conditions, caused in part or in full by racism, it will impact people of color disproportionately, and would be a continuation of systemic racism directly leading to worse outcomes for people of color,” Arroyo said.

The docket was referred to the Committee on Public Health.

Docket #0639

Councilor Ed Flynn offered a resolution supporting Boston’s immigrant communities during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Our immigrant residents are one of the most impacted populations by the COVID-19 pandemic. Many of our immigrant neighbors work in industries deeply affected by the pandemic, such as hotels, restaurants, retail, and have experienced significant losses to their income or jobs because of this crisis,” Flynn said.

Immigrants can face higher barriers to healthcare and financial aid than other populations, Flynn said. The resolution, he said, would be a way of letting Boston’s immigrants know they are treated with respect and empathy by the council.

The resolution was adopted.

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Docket #0642

Councilor Kim Janey offered a resolution in support of expanding SNAP benefits for online and delivery services.

Janey acknowledged that while citizens are being encouraged to shop remotely or have groceries delivered to them, this is not an option for anyone who relies on SNAP benefits, also known as food stamps.

“For many of those who rely on SNAP benefits here in Massachusetts, these apps and websites are not an option for them,” Janey said. “By forcing those who rely on SNAP to physically go to the grocery store to use SNAP benefits, our federal partners are exacerbating the racial, socioeconomic disparities evident with this crisis and the subsequent response.”

The resolution was adopted.

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