By now, you’re probably itching to get outside and back to normal. I certainly am!
You also may have also seen some reports that infection numbers might be nearing a peak in most parts of the country, which is promising news. Social distancing is working. But we are plateauing at a pretty high level.
I’m listening to the experts, and they’re all saying this is a marathon, not a sprint. We know that places that excelled in combating the initial outbreak are bracing for a second wave and leaders are rightfully tightening restrictions.
Whether you’re fighting off an infection or sitting home worried about getting one—or maybe just fighting the urge to get back to life as we knew it—this is a tough time.
So this week, my team and I focused on strengthening our mental health. I had a great talk with Dr. Christine Moutier who shared some practical tips from planning a routine to staying virtually connected.
Sleep, a healthy diet, and exercise all make a difference, and we can practice these things at home. I am sharing mental health tips on my coronavirus resource guide as well as the latest advice from experts through our daily updated reading list.
Behind the scenes, this is a key week in Congress for mental health care policy. I’m working to get a bill I wrote with a fellow veteran, Rep. Chris Stewart (R-UT), the National Suicide Hotline Designation Act, included in the next round of coronavirus relief. Making 9-8-8 the national three-digit crisis hotline will save lives.
If your house is on fire, you don’t need to look up the local fire station’s number for help; we all know to dial 9-1-1. It’s time to treat mental health crises just like other life-threatening emergencies.
Now’s the time. Since the pandemic reached America, Massachusetts call centers have seen an increase in calls for help, even as they grapple with the virus outbreak by practicing social distancing among their staff. In ordinary times, call centers like the Samaritans are a vital resource for many—so I’m hopeful Congress will step up and include this.
In the meantime, if you or someone you know needs support, I encourage you to call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1 (800) 273-8255 or chat with someone online through their website. My friends at the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention also have a great website that’s focused on taking care of your mental health during the pandemic.
My team is taking our mental health seriously as well. We begin our mornings with a meditative moment, which can take the shape of everything from a poem, to a thoughtful quote, to a scripture reading. A great mantra this week came to us by way of Rev. Myozen Joan Amaral, my National Prayer Breakfast guest this year: “No Muck, No Lotus,” which means you don’t get a lotus flower without the muck it grows in.
Through all this and more, we are hard at work for you, so even though we have been operating remotely since March, you can always get help with a federal agency or send me a message. My team is standing by to answer your calls in Salem at (978) 531-1669 and Washington, D.C. at (202) 263-9073.
Read on for updates from the week and some important information we’ve pulled together for you.
Member of Congress
Supporting Organization Who Serve America
From a community level, the groups that serve us are struggling through the same problems as businesses. Many Americans are counting on nonprofits to make ends meet while those nonprofits are losing revenue and having a hard time securing donations from people worried about their own finances.
I’m hopeful Congress will include another bill of mine, the Save Organizations that Serve (SOS) America Act in the next round of relief. I partnered with Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick, a Pennsylvania Republican, to write a bill that would provide $60 billion in emergency funding and expand the Universal Charitable Deduction. The bill also would support expanding SBA loan programs like the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) to nonprofits larger than 500 employees. The bill has the backing of nearly every major national charity, and local organizations like the YMCA of the North Shore. I will keep working to ensure badly needed resources reach the nonprofit sector through any future stimulus legislation. We are fortunate in Massachusetts that several of our state’s Members of Congress are working on the relief bills. This week, I wrote to my friend, Ways and Means Chairman Richard Neal (D-MA), to make the case for nonprofits.
Some help is already on the way. This week I announced that $2 million in coronavirus response grants are going to community health centers on the front lines. Local nonprofit health clinics are burning through their savings to provide care right now (why the SOS America Act is so important) but this is a good start to providing relief.
I also wrote a letter to Governor Baker this week to ask him to designate grocery store workers as emergency personnel so that they can access the protective equipment they need to stay safe while helping people feed their families. The designation is a good start, but the president would have to step up, too, and use the Defense Production Act to increase the supply of protective equipment. Everyone from our health care workers to our cashiers in the check-out lines deserves to be safe. This is something we’ve needed since the start of this pandemic, and it’s unacceptable that the president keeps dragging his feet.
Share Your Health, Give Blood
I am inspired by everyone who has stepped up to fill the void, whether by sewing masks at home or 3D printing medical supplies to contribute. At the same time, blood donations have dropped off when people started to stay home, and hospitals are facing a dire shortage of blood and platelets.
The American Red Cross is asking everyone healthy to consider giving blood or platelets to help meet this critical shortage. I hope you will consider taking the time to donate. The Red Cross Donation Center in Danvers is currently accepting appointments.
If you are looking for other opportunities to contribute, check out my coronavirus resource guide. You can find volunteer opportunities on the North Shore and Boston, the state’s site for PPE donations and procurement, as well as the MA Responds project to coordinate medical volunteers at the state and local levels.
If you find yourself tired of hearing bad news at the end of the week, join us in applauding the health care workers keeping our community healthy. #ClapBecauseWeCare is coming to a doorway or window near you, every Friday night at 7:00 pm.
It’s critical that we share information to all residents, and that the public is informed. Here are two great libraries of resources for limited or non-English speakers:
- World Health Organization (WHO) (Spanish) (French) (Russian) (Chinese) (Arabic)
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Factsheets
- Mass Unemployment Guide Multilingual
- Immigrant Resource Guide - City of Boston (Arabic) (Cape Verdean) (Chinese) (French) (Haitian Creole) (Portuguese) (Russian) (Somali) (Vietnamese)
- Employee Rights in Massachusetts (Spanish) (Portuguese) (Chinese)
- Multilingual Resources from Boston Medical Center
- Multilingual Resources from Switchboard