3/25/20 Newsletter

Dear Greylock Together,

It feels like it’s been a while since we asked you to make some calls.  Put your activism skills to work and let’s make the world a little better than it was yesterday.

Sheriff.  The county jail has the potential to be a COVID-19 hotspot, with the captive population spreading the virus in their close quarters.  The facility is only half full, but it’s still a big risk.  Isolation measures can be taken, but they also make life more miserable for the inmates. Please call Berkshire County Sheriff Thomas Bowler and ask him to use his authority to release with GPS bracelets any inmates who are on mandatory minimum sentences and don’t present significant threat to the public. The focus should be on the populations most at risk (60+, immunosuppressed, or other underlying problems) but simply reducing the overall concentration will help.  They are taking some measures, but this is an important one!

Call Assistant Deputy Superintendent Diane Maynes at (413) 443-7220 ext. 1102 to leave feedback as a member of the public and ask for the Sheriff to take this important step.  She isn’t in the office today (Wednesday), so leave a message along these lines:

Hi there, I’m <NAME> and I live in <TOWN>, and I was calling to ask if the Sheriff would please begin releasing people from the county jail on GPS bracelets where possible, to help limit the risk from the coronavirus.  There’s a lot of people on mandatory minimums who aren’t a threat to anyone, and they should be helping their families and not sitting packed in close quarters with others.Consider also leaving a message on their Facebook page.

Food Info.  Here is a spreadsheet put together by Wendy that has detailed info on what food pantries are still open.  We know that it is accurate as of yesterday.  The Greylock Glass has also consolidated information about food supplies at shelters, churches, and the like on this map

Masks Need Sewing.  If you are willing and able to sew surgical masks, please consider making some for the front-liners who need them.  Contrary to last newsletter, BMC won’t be using them, but there are at least a dozen other healthcare providers that are asking for them (often as covers over proper surgical masks, which are running low everywhere).  Instructions are here.  They’re very simple, but a ton of info is available.  Contact Jessica Chittenden at Jchittendenlmhc@gmail.com if you’re willing, and she’ll tell you about safe drop-off procedures.

Notifications.  The Baker-Polito Administration just announced a new “Alerts MA” texting service to allow Massachusetts residents to receive latest updates & information about #COVID19 from trusted sources. To sign up, text “COVIDMA” to 888-777.

Reminder: Mutual Aid.  Facebook group mutual aid and dispensing info in the county here.  The Greylock Glass has also set up this mutual aid board.

Vote by Mail.  Election officials in both parties call for emergency funding to expand voting by mail before November.  It’s just common sense.

Social Distancing Plaudits.  Massachusetts and Berkshire County earn As for social distancing. Public health professionals agree that social distancing is critical to reduce the spread of this pandemic. Data scientists are using smartphone data to determine how well different states and communities are complying with this recommendation; you can see the results on this interactive map. Massachusetts, and Berkshire County have both earned A-grades, among the top in the country. Statewide, travel is down by 47%. Here in Berkshire County, it’s down by 43%. Let’s keep it up, Berkshire County; this is how we take care of one another.

GOP Profiting Off Insider Trading.  After being briefed on the coronavirus — on 1/24 — as members of the senate intelligence committee, Senators Richard Burr (R-NC) and Kelly Loeffler (R-GA)  did nothing to help Americans understand the seriousness of the threat the virus posed. Instead, they cashed in:  

Burr and Loeffler had an opportunity to sound the alarm. They could have broken ranks with other congressional Republicans and told the country to take the situation more seriously. They could have criticized Trump for not doing more. Such criticism, coming from Trump’s own party, would have received major attention. It would have had the potential to alter Trump  administration policy and, by extension, the course the disease took….Here’s what the two senators did instead: They sold large amounts of their personal stock holdings, cashing in before the market sharply declined, as the severity of the virus became apparent to everyone.Read more about it at the NYT.

Reminder: Unemployment Benefits Help.  If you need help applying for unemployment, virtual town halls are here.

Check out more news from this week at Muckraker Farm.

Events (GCal,iCal)None.  Stay at home. 

Resist and persist!

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