COVID End of Week Update 8/23/20 + Election Dates/Deadlines & BPS All Remote 9/21/Phased-In 10/1
Dear Friends and Neighbors,
I hope you and those you love are doing well and staying healthy.
As long as we're without leadership in the White House, a coordinated COVID-19 national strategy remains elusive. Please make a plan to vote and read my Vote Early Boston 2020 post from last week. It outlines all the ways available to you to vote -- by mail/return via drop box at early voting sites, early in person, or in person on election day.
If you made yesterday's primary election registration deadline (8/22 @ 8PM), nice work - you did it! Next, make sure you request a ballot by THIS WED 8/26 @ 8PM. If you didn't make the primary registration deadline, don't fret, but do be sure to take action to register before 10/24 so can vote in the general election on 11/3.
Primary 9/1: register by 8/22 @ 8pm - passed
Vote by Mail: request ballot by 8/26 @ 8pm - this Wed!
Early Voting: 8/22 - 8/28 @ 11am-7pm *drop boxes @ all early voting sites* - started yesterday
General 11/3: register by 10/24
Vote by Mail: request ballot by 10/28
Refer to this very helpful early voting FAQ to answer all your questions, including these three common ones below:
Q: How can I return my ballot?
A: You can return you ballot by mail or in person. If you are mailing your ballot, use the return envelope that was provided with the ballot, which is pre-addressed and pre-stamped for your convenience. If you are hand-delivering your ballot, you can drop it off at your local election office, in an official ballot return drop box, or at any early voting location during early voting hours. Contact your local election office for the location of any secure drop box they have provided for ballot return.
Q: Can I track my ballot?
A: Yes, you can track your ballot at www.TrackMyBallotMA.com. This page will show you if your application has been received, the date your ballot is mailed, the date your ballot is received at your local election office, and whether your ballot is accepted or rejected.
Q: Why was my ballot rejected?
A: If your ballot was rejected, it is most likely because you did not sign the affidavit on your ballot envelope. Your local election official will notify you if your ballot is rejected and the reason it was rejected. If there is enough time left before the election, you will also be sent a new ballot. You will also have the option of voting in person until 8 p.m. on Election Day.
8/29-8/30 - SALES TAX HOLIDAY: Consumers get a holiday from the state sales tax this weekend -- on most retail items less than $2,500. This year's tax holiday weekend lands as stores are eagerly seeking business in their recovery from pandemic-related shutdowns, but it also means millions in lost tax dollars for state government which already faces a major revenue shortfall. The Department of Revenue estimated that last year's sales tax holiday resulted in between $20 million and $35.7 million in foregone revenue. DOR pegged the 2018 holiday at between $16.7 million and $37.7 million in foregone revenue. A sales tax holiday was long a traditional summertime gift from lawmakers to consumers and businesses, and was permanently marked on the calendar in 2018 under the so-called Grand Bargain law. (Saturday, Aug. 29 through Sunday, Aug. 30)
8/26 - BALLOT REQUEST DEADLINE: Applications for mail-in ballots must reach local election offices by Wednesday for applicants wishing to vote by mail in the Sept. 1 primary. Secretary Galvin is now encouraging voters to return their mail-in ballot by hand, to a dropbox, early voting site or local election office, in order to ensure they are counted. (Wednesday)
8/24 - EVICTION MORATORIUM HEARING: U.S. District Court Judge Mark Wolf holds a hearing in a case brought by Massachusetts landlords against state officials alleging the eviction and foreclosure moratorium violates their constitutional rights. The hearing will cover abstention issues that the state defendants raised in a motion to dismiss or stay the case and could potentially take up a motion for a preliminary injunction that would temporarily lift the ban on most evictions and foreclosures that runs through Oct. 17. Plaintiffs are seeking legal action in both state and federal court. The hearing will be conducted by video conference, and the public can register to view proceedings three days beforehand. Register here. (Monday, 10 a.m.)
8/21 - Seasonal Closure of Community Pools and Spray Decks - The Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) announced it will extend the season for agency-managed spray decks through Sunday, September 27. Please note that DCR-managed deep-water and wading pools will close for the season at the end of the day on Sunday, August 23.
8/21 - No COVID-19 Data Report on Sunday, 8/23 - Due to a planned data system upgrade this weekend, the Massachusetts Department of Public Health will not publish a COVID-19 data report on Sunday, 8/23. Posting will resume Monday 8/24 when all information from the weekend will be included.
8/21 - Governor Baker did not hold a press conference today.
8/20 - The Department of Public Health is monitoring the presence of mosquito-borne diseases in Massachusetts, including West Nile Virus (WNV) and Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE). Currently, Massachusetts has found positive mosquito samples of WNV and EEE and there are 3 known human cases of EEE and 1 known human case of WNV. To learn more, click here.
8/20 - Governor Baker announced the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education and the Department of Public Health will be issuing guidance regarding a rapid response testing program for K-12 schools in Massachusetts. This program will allow tests to be delivered quickly and provide resources to students and schools.
8/19 - Flu Vaccine Required for Students - The state now requires the influenza (flu) immunization for all children 6 months of age or older who will attend Massachusetts child care, pre-school, kindergarten, elementary, middle and high schools, as well as college and university students under 30 years of age, and all students enrolled in health science-related programs. The new requirement is an important step to reduce flu related illness and the overall impact of respiratory illness during the COVID-19 pandemic. Students will be expected to have received a flu vaccine by December 31, 2020 for the 2020-2021 influenza season, unless either a medical or religious exemption is provided. Also exempted are K-12 students who are homeschooled and higher education students who are completely off-campus and engaged in remote learning only. The updated table of immunization requirements for the upcoming school year can be found here.
8/19 - Governor Baker announced $3.3 million in grants to address urgent food insecurity for Massachusetts residents as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and make the Commonwealth's food system more resilient. This funding is being awarded as part of the second round of the new $36 million Food Security Infrastructure Grant Program, created following recommendations from the Administration's COVID-19 Command Center's Food Security Task Force, which promotes ongoing efforts to ensure that individuals and families throughout the Commonwealth have access to healthy, local food. The second round of the grant program includes 34 awards totaling $3,324,349 to fund investments in technology, equipment, increased capacity, and other assistance to help producers distribute food, especially to food insecure communities. When evaluating the applications, considerations included equity, economic impact and need, sustainability and scalability of efforts, and ability to support producer readiness to accept SNAP and HIP benefits. This round follows the first round of $2,941,838 in grants awarded last month to 26 recipients.
Applications will continue to be evaluated on a rolling basis through September 15, 2020. Eligible grantees include entities that are part of the Massachusetts local food system including production, processing and distribution, the emergency food distribution network, Buy Local, community and food organizations, school meal programming, urban farms and community gardens, non-profits, and organizations that provide business planning, technical assistance and information technology services. The Request for Responses for project proposals is available here.
8/19 - The Baker administration announced about 70% of MA school systems plan to bring students back to the classroom at least part time this fall.
8/17 - Pandemic Unemployment Assistance extended an additional 7 weeks for all claimants, and the maximum duration is now 46 weeks instead of 39 weeks. Traditional UI claimants may be eligible for extended benefits of up to up to 13 weeks. Regular unemployment insurance claimants who are eligible to apply for extended benefits will receive notification. PUA claimants do not need to do anything to receive the additional 7 weeks and will receive a notice through the PUA system that their benefits have been extended.
8/17 - Hawaii added to the list of states covered by MA's COVID-19 travel order. Starting today, anyone travelling from Hawaii to MA must self-quarantine for 14 days upon arrival or provide results of a negative COVID-19 test taken at most 72 hours before arriving in MA.
8/17 - Governor Baker did not hold a press conference today.
Five conference committees continue their work to reconcile major legislation regarding climate change, economic development, public safety reform, telehealth/community hospitals, transportation finance. We've extended the 191st General Court session and remain "on-call" to return as soon as any of the conference committees are ready for a final, up or down, enactment vote in both chambers.
Stay tuned for a more comprehensive end of session summary from me in the coming days.
8/21 - Continued School Meal Flexibility
This week, I joined 92 of my colleagues, almost half the MA state legislature, in writing to the U.S. Department of Agriculture to ask for existing waivers to be extended, so that school meal programs can continue to have the flexibility to serve children during the COVID-19 pandemic. The USDA extended the waivers for the summer, our letter - led by Christine Barber, Hannah Kane, Jay Livingstone and Sal DiDomenico - asked for another extension through the 2020-21 school year. State education officials also submitted a waiver extension request on July 24. "The reopening of schools will vary from community to community. Some children will continue to learn from home, some will return full-time, and many will experience some hybrid of the two models," we wrote. "This, coupled with the potential for further school closures in the future, highlights the need for School Food Authorities (SFAs) to have flexibility to react and innovate in all potential scenarios."
8/19 - Bipartisan State Elected Letter to Federal Leaders: Support USPS Safe and Timely Delivery
This week, I signed a joint letter sent to Leader McConnell and Speaker Pelosi, lead by Speaker DeLeo and Minority Leader Jones, that expresses our extreme concern about a letter the US Postal Service sent to State Secretary Galvin saying it could not guarantee all mail-in ballots in November would be delivered in time to be counted. As reported by the Commonwealth Magazine, the letter asserts “This is completely unacceptable as it would effectively disenfranchise a significant number of American voters. The cost-cutting measures implemented by the Postmaster General directly impact a trustworthy service the American people rely on to receive prescriptions, receive their Social Security checks to pay the bills and now these measures directly impact the peoples’ constitutional right to vote,” we wrote. The letter will also be sent to all of our congressional delegation colleagues.
8/18 - $1.8 B Bond Bill The MA State House of Representatives and the MA State Senate enacted a $1.8 billion bond bill to strengthen the Commonwealth’s information technology and physical infrastructure. The legislation authorizes funding for food security, law enforcement body cameras, and investments in educational technologies in schools. The Governor signed the bill, which is now Chapter 151 of the Acts of 2020.
The capital plan, which includes $794 million for state and local general technology and physical infrastructure, features the following targeted investments:
$110 million in public safety infrastructure and equipment
$134 million in statewide economic development grants and reinvestment in disproportionately impacted communities
$80 million in educational IT and infrastructure grants, including $50 million to assist public schools in facilitating remote learning environments
$10 million to fund technology investments at community health centers
$37 million in food security grants
$25 million in capital improvements for licensed early education and care providers and after school programs to ensure safe reopening during COVID-19
$30 million in public safety accountability technologies including body cameras and a race and ethnicity data sharing system
$300,000 in public schools in the city of Boston to provide increased broadband internet access
Most notably, the new law includes the following criminal justice reform funding priority of mine:
not less than $2,500,000 shall be expended for technology improvements in the office of the commissioner of probation to automate the process for sealing criminal records
Now, we just need to update our MA General Law (MGL) so that the sealing statute itself allows for automate sealing after the designated waiting periods that we successfully lowered last session - felonies from 10 down to 7 years, misdemeanors from 5 down to 3 years. As I understand it, the provision wasn't included in Chapter 69 of the Acts of 2018 due to the cost barrier and for no other reason of opposition. It's a notion that requires investment and implementation knowledge and commitment.
Filed for the first time this session, my bill H3378, An Act providing easier and greater access to record sealing seeks to permit automate sealing under the state law. While it may appear to be a small fix, I believe the change will go a long way in helping folks get back on their feet after being incarcerated. I'm grateful to the legal service attorneys who provide invaluable guidance around the nuances of the barriers to reentry we seek to dismantle. This effort will continue to be the next incremental step of criminal justice reform that I'll be pushing my colleagues to understand, support, and ultimately adopt.
From Mayor Martin J. Walsh’s COVID-19 press briefing on Friday, August 21, 2020.
As of today in Massachusetts: 431 new confirmed cases, for a total of 115,741. 13 new deaths, for a total of 8,670.
Also as of today in Boston: 66 new cases, for a total of 15,084. No new deaths were reported yesterday, and the total remains at 746.
Status of COVID-19 in Boston:
The Mayor provided an update on the overall trends we’re seeing in Boston.
For the week ending August 15, the 7-day average positive test rate was 2.8%. That number continues to move up and down within the 2% to 2.9% range. This does not represent the percentage of the population infected; it represents the percentage of COVID-19 tests that come back positive.
For daily new cases, Boston remains in the state’s “yellow” category, with a little over six new daily cases reported per 100,000 people.
The number of people at emergency rooms with COVID symptoms and the COVID patients in ICUs both remain flat and below levels of concern.
The Mayor reiterated how important it is for everyone in the Boston community to remain vigilant and continue to wash their hands frequently, avoid large gatherings, practice social distancing, and wear a mask.
The Mayor said that the City of Boston will continue to be proactive in its efforts to contain the virus with testing, outreach, resources, and information in all needed languages and formats.
Update on testing:
More than 1,600 tests are being conducted per day, on average, in the City of Boston. Last week, nearly every neighborhood saw an increase in testing.
Citywide, there are more than 20 testing sites, including mobile sites that are moving to the areas with the greatest need.
At many sites, testing is available at no cost to individuals. The City encourages people to call ahead and confirm.
The City’s Mobile Testing Team moved to Jubilee Christian Church in Mattapan yesterday. It will run today and tomorrow, and next week from Tuesday through Saturday. It’s free and open to anyone, regardless of symptoms.
You can find a full list and map of all the testing sites at boston.gov/coronavirus.
Upcoming elections and deadlines:
The Mayor reminded everyone that the deadline to register to vote for the September 1 state primary election is tomorrow, Saturday August 22.
There are several ways to vote this year, including early voting, mail-in voting, a ballot drop box at City Hall, and in-person voting on election day.
For more information, including a full list of important dates, and to check your voter status, go to Boston.gov/Elections or call 311.
New Boston Resiliency Fund grants:
To date, our Boston Resiliency Fund has provided more than $25 million in grants to nonprofits and community organizations that are supporting vulnerable residents, with $1.2 million distributed in the last three weeks.
These organizations have pivoted during COVID to be a lifeline for the families and seniors they serve.
The Mayor highlighted a few recent grantees at today’s press conference:
Fresh Food Generation and the Food Project are working in East Boston to provide families with fresh vegetables, fruit, and dry goods, and prepared meals.
The Talented and Gifted Association Latino Program works with BPS students and families. They’re buying gift cards for 75 low-income families that can be used to support local businesses.
Greater Love Community Cares is a group that supports residents who are unemployed or under-employed with rent and other needs. They are hiring drivers to deliver medicine and essentials to seniors and medically vulnerable residents in Dorchester, Hyde Park, Jamaica Plain, Mattapan, Mission Hill, and Roslindale.
The members of the South Boston Association of Nonprofits are bringing fresh food, grocery store gift cards, and meals to low-income families and seniors.
The Mayor thanked all of these organizations for their partnership, and encouraged people to visit Boston.gov/BostonResiliencyFund to learn more, donate, or request funding.
Announcement of Fall plans for the Boston Public Schools:
The Mayor announced that the Boston Public Schools will move forward with a responsible, phased-in hybrid model to start the school year.
This approach will give the City of Boston and BPS time to assess health data before each step with the Boston Public Health Commission. It will allow the City of Boston and BPS to address learning needs and opportunity gaps in person and by providing extra help for students learning online. In every step, families have the choice of whether to opt-in to hybrid learning or stay fully remote.
On September 21, all students will begin with remote learning. Then, BPS will gradually introduce optional hybrid learning for all students, starting with the highest need students and the youngest students. BPS will then introduce optional hybrid learning for additional grade levels, starting with the youngest students, and moving up into the higher grades.
The Mayor announced the earliest dates by which students in each grade level will be able to start hybrid learning. Each new phase will be contingent upon the most up-to-date public health metrics.
No sooner than October 1, the option of hybrid learning may begin for students with the highest needs.
On October 15, optional hybrid learning may begin for the youngest students, in all three grades of kindergarten: K0, K1, and K2.
On October 22, opt-in hybrid learning may begin for grades 1-3.
On November 5, opt-in hybrid learning may begin for grades 4-8. That will include grades 6-8 in the high schools that include them.
On November 16, opt-in hybrid learning may begin for grades 9-12.
Each student’s exact first day in school for hybrid learning will depend on which group they are placed in, the A or the B group, for their 2 days per week in school.
To see the full plan with complete details about this plan, go to bostonpublicschools.org/Reopening.
The Mayor provided some additional information about how the phased approach will work, and how the City of Boston and BPS are working together to prepare for the weeks and months ahead:
The Mayor said that this is a flexible model, and that schools will have unique circumstances that require somewhat different approaches to each phase.
School facilities will be in full compliance with state public health guidelines from the first day anyone enters those buildings, staff or students, and that work is happening now. It will be complete and ongoing, as teachers and school leaders help identify additional steps.
Teachers will begin professional development on Tuesday, September 8 for teaching both the remote and hybrid models.
The first students will not return until at least October 1. As more students phase in, it will still be less than half of the normal numbers at any given time, in many cases far below the numbers recommended to maintain appropriate special distancing.
The Mayor expressed his gratitude to all parties who continue to contribute to this planning process, including the Superintendent, school leaders, and teachers, support staff, families, and students.
He offered this reflection:
“This is the best approach to educate our children. It creates an on-ramp for students to return to the classroom, in a safe and careful way. This is the best way to tackle opportunity and achievement gaps in our city. We’re going to make remote learning as high-quality as we possibly can. I have a lot of faith in our teachers to do that, and we’re going to support them. But every day outside the classroom is a lost opportunity for many students. Schools mean more than learning. They mean essential services, care and mentoring, and social development. The other benefit is flexibility. We can adapt this plan to the health circumstances. We have more options for moving forward.
The bottom line is this: We need to contain the virus and keep our communities safe. Kids need to get back to school, in many cases for reasons of equity and safety. And we need to provide quality education, in whatever format is required. That’s what this plan makes possible. Every step along the way will follow science and public health data. Every family will have the choice about when to send children into school. And we will continue the work that began long before COVID-19: to close opportunity and achievement gaps, and give every single child the quality education that they deserve.”
From Mayor Martin J. Walsh’s COVID-19 press briefing on Tuesday, August 18, 2020.
As of today, in Massachusetts: 175 new cases, for a total of 114,786, and 6 new deaths, for a total of 8,617.
Also as of today, in Boston: 24 new cases, for a total of 14,940. There were no new deaths reported, and the total remains at 746.
Status of COVID-19 in Boston:
The Mayor provided an update on the overall trends we’re seeing in Boston. The uptick seen in the second half of July has levelled off, but the City is still watching the data closely, expanding testing, and continuing contact tracing.
The positive test rate for the week ending August 10 was 2.6%, down from 2.8%.
Visits to Boston Emergency Rooms for COVID-like illness are down somewhat and stable over time.
ICU usage at Boston hospitals is down to 74% from 82% of normal capacity.
The daily average number of positive tests has stayed up around 40 cases. Some of that increase is a result of increased testing.
Update on testing:
The City continues to increase testing access across Boston, maintaining more than 20 active testing sites.
For the last full week analyzed, there was an average of more than 1,600 tests conducted per day, up 8.6% compared to the previous week. The amount of testing increased in every neighborhood except Alllston/Brighton, which had hosted a pop-up site the week before.
The Mobile Testing Team has played a key role increasing both capacity and access to testing. At Moakley Park in South Boston, over the last two weeks, the Mobile Team performed more than 3,000 tests. Starting this Thursday, August 20, they will be at Jubilee Christian Church in Mattapan. At this site the City offers testing to anyone who wants it, at no cost, and regardless of symptoms. The site will have walk-through testing and parking for those arriving by car. The Mattapan pop-up site will run this week from Thursday, August 20 to Saturday, August 22; and next week from Tuesday, August 25 to Saturday, August 29.
The Mayor said that the City will bring testing wherever it is needed, and that he encourages everyone to get tested regularly. You can find information, including hours for all the testing sites in the City, at boston.gov/coronavirus.
Preventing the spread in Boston:
The Mayor said that the entire Boston community needs to stay focused and vigilant to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus. He reminded everyone to continue frequent handwashing, avoiding large gatherings, staying 6 feet away from other people, and wearing masks.
The Mayor compared masks to seatbelts, reminding people that years ago, seatbelts were unpopular and people found them uncomfortable and restrictive, but now people understand their value and using them is the norm.
Update on the Boston Public Schools:
The Mayor discussed the ongoing planning for the start of the school year in Boston.
On Friday, BPS submitted plans to DESE that meet all State public health guidelines. This latest draft of the plan is available online to the public at bostonpublicschools.org/reopening.
Boston has asked the State for permission to push the first day of school back from September 10 to September 21 for most students, and to September 23 for pre-K and kindergarten students. This would give teachers and administrators more time to plan, and give the City more time to monitor the data.
The Mayor said that soon, the City will make a decision on whether to open with all-remote learning or a hybrid model. He reiterated that every family has the choice to begin the year remotely if they want.
The Mayor said that BPS’s fall planning is focused on safety, quality, and equity. The City’s decision making will be guided by science and data, just like it has been throughout the pandemic, and Boston will not bring students or staff into buildings that are not safe.
The City is working every day to make school buildings safe and in-line with all public health guidance. So far, BPS has implemented extensive health and safety precautions, which include inspecting 27,500 windows and repairing 7,300 windows, inspecting 35 HVAC systems, and buying 3,000 new fans. All BPS protocols meet the requirements of the State, and the guidance of the Boston Public Health Commission, an agency that has set high standards for COVID safety.
BPS is putting the needs of the most vulnerable students at the center of all planning efforts, particularly students experiencing poverty, hunger, and homelessness; students learning English; students with disabilities; and students suffering the impacts of systemic racism, which leads to significant opportunity and achievement gaps.
The Superintendent, school leaders, and teachers have been working together to make sure all learning options are high-quality.
Community input has shaped every step of the planning process. BPS held 30 virtual public meetings, with over 2,000 participants. They have administered surveys and held community conversations, taken feedback and answered questions.
For the latest draft of the fall plan, BPS worked with the Boston Teachers Union in task forces made up of teachers, school leaders, and central office leaders. They worked together on key issues like connecting with families using home visits and technology; making up for lost time in school; addressing social and emotional struggles; and making sure the school day is age-appropriate for all students. They will continue working closely together. The City will also continue to coordinate with childcare and afterschool programs.
Preparations for this year’s elections:
The Mayor discussed the unique challenges associated with this year’s elections, and outlined some of the City of Boston’s efforts to ensure full and fair voting access for everyone.
The State Primary Election is September 1, and the General Election is November 3. The registration deadline for the primary is this Saturday, August 22. Residents can look up their voting status at boston.gov/election.
The Mayor said that this year, the nation faces unprecedented challenges to the election process: a pandemic, and now, efforts by the White House to suppress voter access.
He outlined some of the City’s efforts to ensure full and fair voter access.
Boston will have in-person voting for all elections with safety protocols and PPE.
Some polling locations have been moved out of senior buildings for residents’ safety. The City is notifying registered voters if they have been impacted by polling location changes.
Boston is also holding Early Voting again this year, and it begins this coming weekend. For the Primary: Early Voting is August 22 - 28 at a total of 18 locations across the City, including City Hall. For the General Election, it will be October 17 - 30. For information about elections, including early voting locations, visit boston.gov/election or call 311.
The City of Boston has also worked to make voting by mail widely and easily available. In July, the State sent applications for mail-in ballots to every registered voter in Boston. The Boston Election Department has received over 75,000 requests for ballots. The City has sent out over 60,000 ballots to registered voters and continues to process those requests. The Mayor urged everyone who wants one to send in their application right away, if they haven’t done so already. For the Primary, applications for a mail-in ballot must be received by Wednesday, August 26. The City will process every request received by that date. Everyone can track their ballot request at trackmyballotMA.com.
Today the Mayor announced another voting access point. The City has placed a ballot drop-box in the lobby of City Hall. It is available Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. No appointment is needed, but voters will be screened for COVID symptoms upon entering the building. You can drop off either your ballot request (by August 26) or your completed mail-in ballot by September 1. You can also drop off your mail-in ballot at Early Voting locations during the Early Voting period. The City asks everyone to turn in their completed ballot as soon as possible.
The Mayor addressed the White House’s threats to undermine operations of the U.S. Postal Service.
The Mayor’s administration has been in contact with Secretary of State Bill Galvin, with Attorney General Maura Healey, and members of Congress about this.
Congressman Stephen Lynch and Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley are on the Oversight and Reform Committee, and they acted quickly to launch hearings. The Mayor thanked the Massachusetts Congressional delegation for their swift response.
News broke this afternoon that the Postmaster General is suspending the operational changes that were causing great concern. The Mayor said that the City of Boston will continue to monitor the situation closely.
The Mayor closed with this reflection:
“As a local government, we are doing all we can to make voting safe and accessible. We call on the federal government to protect and support the Postal Service at this critical time. Postal workers have been a lifeline for many residents in this crisis, and now they are helping to protect our democracy. I thank them. Elections are a cornerstone of our democracy, and access to voting is a fundamental right. Today marks the 100th anniversary of the ratification of the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. It made women's right to vote the law of the land. Boston women led that movement, including Black women who had to keep fighting for decades to make that right a reality. We take voting rights and voting access seriously in Boston. We have fought for it, and we’ll fight for it today. I can assure you that we will do everything within our power to make sure your vote is counted.”