Pittsfield Board of Health betrays its name

To the editor:

The juxtaposition of the two headlines in Thursday’s Berkshire Eagle (“Pittsfield resuming indoor dining” and “Over 100K now in hospitals as COVID-19 surges”) ironically underscored the irresponsible decision by Pittsfield’s Board of Health to allow city restaurants to resume indoor dining at the very point in time when local case counts and deaths are on the rise.

I understand that it’s complicated — local businesses and their employees are suffering, but Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data show that “adults with positive test results were approximately twice as likely to have reported dining at a restaurant than were those with negative test results.” With this, the decision should have been simple: the greater good — public health and reducing stress on our health care system — far outweighs a temporary restriction on indoor dining.

What’s even more ironic is the fact that the “dramatic increase in cases shortly after Halloween,” as cited by Director of Public Health Gina Armstrong during the board’s Dec. 2 meeting, were due, in part, to a large party held at one local restaurant, and to a group celebrating a birthday that visited two other local restaurants. Indeed, on Nov. 6, Mayor Linda Tyer announced that 46 new cases were associated with just these two events. And we want to do what? Resume indoor dining? Now?

Well, everyone, I guess it’s up to us to do our part, as the Board of Health has shortsightedly chosen commerce over public health. Perhaps this will inspire us. We live in the commonwealth of Massachusetts, founded in the day when “common wealth” meant “common good.” Please stay home. Please wear a mask. Please wash your hands. We’re all tired of it, but if we do this together, consistently, for just a while longer, things can get back to “normal” instead of the endless cycles of surges and resulting impacts on public health, our local health care system and the local economy.

Susan LeBourdais, Pittsfield