Gateways Live: 3 Gateway City Mayors on Coronavirus Crisis Response

Gateways Podcast

Gateways Live: 3 Gateway City Mayors on Coronavirus Crisis Response

Six months have passed since Governor Baker declared a state of emergency due to the danger of the novel coronavirus. In that time, local leaders have had to react to a number of unprecedented crises—not just in public health, but in unemployment, housing and food insecurity, education, and racial inequality.

Data show unequivocally that people of color and Gateway City residents have been hardest hit by the virus and its subsequent burdens on health, housing, education, and overall quality of life. Mayors of these regional cities are on the frontlines, responding to the needs of individuals and navigating a path to economic and social recovery.

This week on Gateways, three Gateway City mayors— Mayor Kim Driscoll of Salem, Mayor Dan Rivera of Lawrence, and Mayor Jon Mitchell of New Bedford– join hosts Ben Forman and Dr. Tracy Corley to share their responses and plans for the future.

Mayor Rivera recalls when the magnitude of the coronavirus became clear to him. “Right off the bat, we said, ‘Oh, no. Not something else.’” Crisis response is not entirely new to Rivera and his administration in Lawrence. This week marks the two-year anniversary of the devastating Columbia Gas explosions in the Merrimack Valley.

Mayor Driscoll of Salem says the first step for her administration was to get a better understanding with what exactly they were dealing with. “We learned a lot, we communicated a lot, we spent a lot of time as colleagues getting expert information that we could then convert into actions at the local level.”

Mayor Mitchell on the South Coast says the city had to take the lead dealing with complex issues, such as how you keep a large industrial workforce safe in fish processing facilities. “The state did not have a plan for Southeastern Massachusetts,” he said. “We did it on our own.”

Listen as the mayors weigh in on the fallout of the virus on finances, housing, transportation, education, and racial inequity in their cities, and map out their strategies for the future, both near- and long-term.

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