February 25, 2021

Letter about Rehoboth Response to Covid 19 Pandemic


Dear Ms. Arruda,

I am a 47 year resident of Rehoboth. I am a 76 year old, retired Clinical Social Worker. My children were educated in our town’s school district and I currently have 3 grandchildren who attend Rehoboth Schools. My family has a multigenerational connection with Rehoboth.

Three of my cousins currently serve in our Police Department. I have always enjoyed living in this community and have spoken often of its small town charm and cooperative atmosphere.

I have never before written a letter of complaint nor have I taken a political stand with this town and its management. I feel however that the issues facing our residents are sufficiently serious that I could no longer sit back silently.

We are dealing with a pandemic that is taking the lives and livelihoods of our residents. We now have the opportunity for a vaccine that will keep us safe and though there are international shortages of this vaccine, the process of securing it, when available, is a disastrous endeavor, resulting in nothing but added fear and frustration. I have understood and totally agreed with the Phased release of the vaccine to this point, but we are currently into Phase 2, which allows all those 75 years of age and older to make an appointment to get the first of 2 shots. We are the first group who actually has to make our own appointments, This will be followed by other groups, all of whom will need to make appointments and seek out available vaccination sites.

I’ve noticed that neighboring communities have begun to make concrete plans and set up vaccination sites for their residents in anticipation of this. Rehoboth, it would appear, has not.

I have spoken to the Health Department as well as the Council on Aging. The COA appears to be doing what it can on a person to person basis, but is running into the same frustration as I have experienced trying to manipulate the States website and secure an appointment.

Why has Rehoboth not begun to organize a response to the crisis situation that affects all of our citizens? Why has the Board of Selectmen, the Health Department and the COA not been working together with the Commonwealth to anticipate the need and make plans for the distribution of vaccine to our residents as they become available? We have the space to set up a clinic (Goff Hall, South Fire Station, to name two), we have the personnel, and I’m sure we could easily mount a volunteer movement to help with the administrative issues. I know that the Pfizer vaccine requires special freezer needs, but Moderna requires traditional freezers, which must be available in our school cafeterias. I can anticipate that you would argue that cost of running such a program would be beyond our town’s ability to mount, but it is my understanding that efforts are underway on the state and federal level to defray those costs.

In my humble opinion, there are no issues facing our community at this point in our history that are more pressing. I have been in touch with a number of residents who are in agreement. Please consider my suggestion! All of our lives may be dependent on receiving this vaccine. Our town government is in a position to help facilitate this effort.

Thank you.

Jean Baxendale

Cc: Karl Drown, Health Department
Cc: Jaime Conlon & Jessica Potter, Town Nurse
Cc: Linda Sherman, Council of Aging
Cc: Rehoboth Reporter


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