Jeff Harness: Health director deserves support

Published: 3/31/2020 2:51:33 PM

Your March 28 editorial, “COVID-19 hits home with mayor’s announcement,” correctly praises Mayor David Narkewicz for disclosing he tested positive for COVID-19 and is in isolation at home.

You also took Northampton Public Health Director Merridith O’Leary to task for not responding to your requests for comment. I agree that community residents need information about this public health crisis. I also know that O’Leary is in constant motion trying to set up shelters, get resources, setting up monitoring and surveillance, enact regulations and hundreds of other tasks large and small.

In the absence of a county health department, smaller local towns also look to O’Leary for information. This public servant is giving it her all in this crisis, working long hours seven days a week. Your editorial acknowledges how hard health officials are working, but how demoralizing it must feel after several 14-hour stressful days to be criticized in an editorial for not doing enough.

As a longtime Northampton resident, I am grateful our city has smart, hardworking staff. O’Leary deserves appreciation and support in a time like this.

Jeff Harness



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