Congressman Kennedy Hosts Virtual Town Meeting

HYANNIS – U.S. Representative Joe Kennedy III held a virtual town meeting for residents of Cape Cod and the South Coast on Monday.

Kennedy is running against U.S. Senator Ed Markey in the Democratic primary for the U.S. senate seat representing Massachusetts.

In the town hall meeting, Kennedy wanted to address local problems that the Cape is facing due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The challenges that the Cape and the Islands are confronting with the impact of this virus are enormous. What we want to try and do is call attention to that, and then try to use some of that conversation to drive a policy response down in Washington and on Beacon Hill,” said Kennedy.

Kennedy acknowledged how important the summer season is for the survival of the Cape’s economy, and how the virus has had a strong negative impact.

“We need to make sure that folks can one; come to the Cape. Two; that they can enjoy it. We’ve got to put in place policies now to ensure that happens.”

Though the Cape has a mostly seasonal economy, Kennedy said that other year-round industries within the community are also impacted by the pandemic by relation.

“You’ve got an economy that is also dependent on industries like fishing, and the fishing industry has been devastated by the impacts of this virus.  A lot of the food that comes in through those catches isn’t being filled to restaurants because those restaurants aren’t open. It has a devastating impact throughout that entire supply chain where fishermen are bearing the brunt of it,” said Kennedy.

“There is a lot more that the federal government has to do. That’s part of the hope, to give voice to that and to help craft a response.”

To help make the election season safer for voters and poll workers during the pandemic, Kennedy and Attorney General Maura Healey have teamed up to push for statewide vote-by-mail in Massachusetts.

“In Massachusetts, we shouldn’t be forcing people to choose between their health and their democracy. We here in the state certainly can allow people to do both. Other states, five other states in fact, already do this by, in very robust way, ensuring that people get mailed a ballot and they can fill it out with instructions and you mail it back. That’s not all that difficult to do,” said Kennedy.

He said that the infrastructure needed to make vote-by-mail happen in the Commonwealth is already there in the form of absentee ballots and that he is calling for an expansion of that program.

Kennedy said he did want not a repeat in Massachusetts of Wisconsin’s primary day last month, where voters waited in long lines without adequate protection from COVID-19, which led to some residents contracting the virus.  

“There’s been 36, at least, documented cases of people contracting the coronavirus while trying to vote, and we don’t need to do that. There’s no reason for that.”

Kennedy said that while first-responders have worked hard to keep people safe during the crisis, residents should try to make it easier for medical providers wherever possible, which mail-in-voting would help.

He has also recently introduced the Medicare Crisis Program Act, the goal of which is to ensure everyone can get access to testing and treatment during the pandemic.

The legislation would expand Medicare and Medicaid eligibility during the crisis, cap out-of-pocket costs for Medicare enrollees, and eliminate co-pays, coinsurance or deductibles for COVID-19 testing and care.

Kennedy said that a medical safety-net was needed for residents to feel secure enough to start participating in normal routines in the future and after the pandemic.

“All of this is critically important. We recognize that in the midst of this healthcare crisis, you’re health is linked to mine. You’re not going to be able to have the confidence to go out and go back into a crowded restaurant if you don’t think that someone else next to you is healthy. And if you do get sick, that there’s not going to be adequate ways for you to get healthy again,” said Kennedy.

“We’re trying to put the structures in place to make sure that people do have confidence about the challenges we’re up against.”

Kennedy said that he hopes that the town halls provide people with an opportunity to be heard and get their questions answered in uncertain times.

About Grady Culhane

Grady Culhane is a Cape Cod native from Eastham. He studied media communications at Cape Cod Community College and joined the News Center in 2019.
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