Senator Elizabeth Warren visited two facilities in western Massachusetts related to combating the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, both the disease itself and the economic effects it has created.
Warren met with management and medical staff at the Berkshire Community College vaccination site in Pittsfield, one of three sites operated by the Berkshire Vaccine Collaborative.
The site has delivered more than 19,000 doses of the COVID vaccine to residents of Berkshire County.
In an interview after her tour, Warren said she was impressed with the organization of the venues.
âIt is clear that the Berkshire Vaccine Collaborative has created a formidable distribution system where there are no mass sites. It’s quick, easy and user-friendly, âshe said. “The obvious problem is that they need more doses of the vaccine, but it’s a supply problem.”
The federal government is making efforts to address the vaccine shortage, she said.
âA new FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) site is coming to Boston and will deliver 6,000 doses per day. Even though the site will be in Boston, it will increase the number of doses for the entire state, including western Massachusetts. “
Later that day, Warren met with U.S. Representative James McGovern to tour the Western Mass Food Bank at its warehouse and distribution center in Hatfield. Hunger was a problem long before COVID, but the pandemic has exacerbated the problem, Warren said.
âOnce we started to get sick, the demand for food banks exploded,â she said. âFirst, we need to invest more federal and state money in these food banks. Next, we must tackle the problem of hunger head-on. People need to earn more money; they need better paying jobs so they don’t have to go to food banks.
Warren said she wanted infrastructure funding that better meets the needs of the region for long-term benefit.
âWe need to make sure that we get real investment in broadband Internet access and an east-west rail link to connect Springfield to Boston. These are the investments that I will push for the Western Mass.
Warren said an east-west rail link would have a net positive effect on the state not only in Springfield, but throughout the region. High-speed Internet access would open up rural areas to job creation and increase productivity everywhere.
âWe need broadband every square inch of Western Mass,â she said.
âThe transport side of the proposal would build high-speed trains and more public transport, and then, of course, the financing of highways. The highway part would be subject to certain funding restrictions so that there are charging stations along the highways. The railway part should be electric and the agencies should buy green energy. We can build this in order to contribute to economic development and to be respectful of the environment. “
The final element of its infrastructure plan for the Western Mass is childcare.
Child care is an infrastructure, âshe said emphatically. âIt’s all about getting to work. Affordable child care shouldn’t be just for the wealthy. Every parent should have access to it. “
Warren said she would work with the state to create an economic boost for the region.
âChild care is a small business,â she says. “It creates jobs and income so more parents can afford to work or go to school – it’s a win for everyone.”