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On a recent Friday at Revere's farmers market, it looked as though most people were wearing masks. In one instance, Dimple Rana gently reminded someone to put on her mask. She has extra masks on hand in case someone forgot theirs.
Rana is the city of Revere's director of outreach and has been going to popular spots to remind residents of public health guidelines as the pandemic continues.
"Revere is a hotspot," Rana says, "and we are really being very proactive in making sure that our residents have the PPE to stay safe and to also help stop the spread of COVID-19."
The coronavirus positive test rate in Revere is just under 4%, one of the highest in the state. To combat it, the city is literally working overtime to make sure people in the community have masks and other necessities.
It's part of a new initiative in Revere where community ambassadors table at high-traffic areas like the weekly farmers market or the Suffolk Downs shopping center to educate people about masks (in seven different languages) and hand them out if need be. They also make deliveries in Revere's "mobile city hall" or with their own personal vehicles — mostly to people who are elderly or have mobility challenges, or who are quarantining.
The program, which kicked off this week, is comprised of paid Revere residents and city employees working overtime.
Some other cities and towns solicit the help of law enforcement. Back in May, some police departments resolved to hand out masks instead of tickets. But Revere's new program is being very intentional about not involving cops. And that's especially important in a city where nearly 40% of residents are immigrants, said Joel Rivera, with the Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition.
"We know that in an immigrant-rich city like Revere, where there a lot of newer immigrants, Black and brown immigrants from various parts of Latin America and Asian and Africa, that there is a level of distrust, I believe, with local law enforcement and certain local institutions," he said.
Revere's new ambassadors program "is a good opportunity," Rivera said, for residents to build trust with fellow community members outside of law enforcement.
Revere residents are being encouraged to call 311 instead of 911 if they happen to see a large gathering with social distancing and mask violations, said outreach director Rana. But if someone were to call 911, the Revere Police Department is supposed to forward the complaint to the city.
"There would be a team that goes out to that location to help to investigate, to talk to the residents," Rana explained. "It's not about enforcement, it's about pushing the message across that we all need to stay safe."
But there is potential punishment for habitual violators: two warnings, then a $490 fine for each subsequent time.
This segment aired on October 8, 2020.
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