A Conversation with Salem’s Mayor, Kim Driscoll

March 8, 2022 10:34 am

One of the roles of the North Shore Alliance is to stay on top of what’s going on economically within our state and region. To do this, it is helpful for us to connect with state and local leaders to get a better sense of where we stand as a state and region, in regards to community and economic development. 

In a recent North Shore Conversation, a weekly radio show produced by the North Shore Alliance for Economic Development and hosted by Laura Swanson, we had the honor of speaking with Salem’s Mayor Kim Driscoll. She has been the city’s first woman mayor since the election in 2005 and is currently running to be the Commonwealth’s next Lieutenant Governor. 

Our interview was held in January and we had the opportunity to discuss the state of the city in terms of covid-19 as well as other initiatives and issues impacting the City of Salem. 

Salem Mayor Driscoll Covid-19 and the State of Salem

Our conversation took place while the Covid-19 Omicron surge was in full swing. Mayor Driscoll conveyed her concerns regarding the decreased staffing at the regional hospitals, schools that are handling sick students and staff, as well as how small businesses have been able to pivot in the face of ever-changing medical guidance. 

Mask & Vaccine Mandates 

Part of the challenge with mitigating risks related to the spread of covid-19 is balancing the risks with benefits. As of the writing of this article Salem has a mask mandate which started in January of 2022. The mandate requires masking in places such as restaurants and shopping plazas. A review of the mandate will take place in March 2022.

The city also has a vaccine requirement for visiting entertainment venues, restaurants, gyms, and museums. The vaccine mandate asks visitors to supply their vaccine card either physically or digitally before visiting one of these venues. 

Mayor Driscoll states that the goal of this is to ensure that hospitalizations do not overwhelm our healthcare industry as well as encourage people who want a safe place to visit to consider Salem, Massachusetts. 

Salem is proud to report that they have not one, but two regional “Stop the Spread” testing sites in downtown Salem and at the high school. 

Schools & Covid 

The goal of city leadership as well as teachers, parents, and students is to remain utilizing in-person instruction for as long as it is possible. By utilizing both pool testing and the Test and Stay program, school nurses have been hard at work to keep as many students and staff at school. The 80% attendance rates are showing that while there is a struggle to keep staff and students safe, there is still a level of community spread that is worrisome. 

Small Businesses & Covid 

In addition to taking the time to review the current masking, vaccine and school numbers, Mayor Driscoll also spoke to us about how proud she was and continues to be regarding small businesses being able to pivot their business models. From supply chain issues to staffing problems, small businesses across Salem were able to rise to the challenge and end 2021 strongly. 

The Mayor’s office will continue to support small businesses with resources, marketing and promotional incentives, and PPE where needed with the ultimate goal of keeping Salem “Safe, Strong & Open.” For more information on the current state of testing, vaccines, masking requirements and resources available visit the City of Salem website.