COVID-19 Weekend Update + Resources 4/19/20

Dear Friends and Neighbors,

This week, we mourn the passing of one of our own E-13 Boston Police Officers due to COVID-19 complications. Officer Jose Fontanez proudly served our local neighborhoods and our city for 29 years. Our hearts remain heavy and with his family, friends, colleagues, and all those who loved him.

To echo our Mayor, the best way we can honor our fallen officer and show our respect and gratitude for our first responders, healthcare workers and frontline staff who are putting their lives on the line every day to keep us safe, is to STAY HOME. I know it's really hard, and like me, you're probably feeling very stir crazy by now, but as the Governor reminded us going into the weekend, if we let up now, it will only result in greater harm. That includes tomorrow, Monday, April 20 -- please do not visit the Boston Marathon route or attempt to run the course on what would have been Marathon Monday. The Boston Marathon is postponed to September 14.

As my colleague Rep. Jon Santiago (D-9th Suffolk), a Boston Medical Center emergency department doctor who is working two 12 hour shifts at the Boston Convention Center field hospital this weekend, shared on Thursday after finishing a shift: we're right in the surge and things are going to get worse before they get better. Please continue to hunker down and hang in there.

If you're healthy and up to it, please consider donating blood. The need is urgent now.

Appointments are required and you can find the nearest drive here. Additionally, your local knowledge, suggestions of sites, and potential partners are crucial to meeting the needs of our neighbors who need blood and blood products. To schedule a new blood drive contact Bill Forsyth at 617-699-3808 or at email William.Forsyth@redcross.org.

Warmly,

Liz Malia

State Representative, 11th Suffolk

liz.malia@mahouse.gov

To read the Commonwealth’s Command Center Daily Updates: www.replizmalia.org

How to Help Out

Upcoming Items of Interest

  • SMALL BUSINESS ZOOM: Join the Globe's Small Business Community for a virtual event with business reporter and Talking Points writer Jon Chesto. Chesto wants to hear about your business, how it's been affected by the current crisis, and what you're doing to keep it going. He'll come with a few questions that will fuel his future reporting on the region's economic outlook -- and if you have questions on that topic, he'll try to tackle those as well. (Monday, 10 AM, Register)

  • HEALTH DISPARITIES PANEL: Boston Medical Center's Dr. Thea James and Harvard Street Neighborhood Health Center's Stan McLaren take part in a panel discussion hosted by the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce about health disparities in communities of color and efforts to mitigate the effects on those communities from COVID-19. Michele Courton-Brown of Quality Interactions Inc. will also take part. (Tuesday, 1 p.m., Register)

  • 1918 ELECTIONS DISCUSSION: Massachusetts Historical Society holds an online program titled "Voting During a Pandemic: The 1918 Elections in Massachusetts," looking at the primary and general elections held just after the peak of the 1918 Spanish flu epidemic. Register (Wednesday, 5:30 p.m.)

Helpful Resources

Testing

  • ​If you develop symptoms of COVID-19, call your healthcare provider and tell them about your symptoms. They will help you decide whether testing is appropriate. If your clinician thinks you should be tested but they are unable to offer a test at their own health care facility, they will provide a referral and you can be tested at a test site near you (by appointment only). If you don't have a provider, call 211 or 311.

  • Mobile testing sites are operating to serve eligible public safety personnel, including police officers, firefighters, EMS and PSAP personnel, correction officers, mortuary service providers, grocery store workers, and state active duty National Guard personnel who perform critical public safety functions.

  • The Department of Public Health, in partnership with the Massachusetts National Guard, and the State Public Health Laboratory in conjunction with the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard is operating a program for Nursing Homes, Assisted Living Residences and Rest Homes (Facilities) to allow for in-facility testing of residents and staff.

Food - comprehensive food resources list

  • ​During what would have been school vacation week (4/20-24), school meal deliveries will continue. *Locations and times are subject to change. Please check back to confirm information before you head to a meal pickup site or food pantry.

  • Extra Emergency SNAP Benefits and what you need to know.

  • Animal Food: The MSPCA is working hard to ensure people facing financial or medical struggles are able to continue feeding their pets. They’ve created a list of food pantries and organizations across MA that accept pet food donations (always contact pantry to make sure they have pet food in stock). Learn more about how to protect your pets and plan ahead.

Housing (CHAPA)

  • ​New: Metro Housing put RAFT & Section 8 applications online (as of 4/14/20)

  • RAFT: For households at risk of homelessness due to a housing crisis such as rent, mortgage, or utility arrears through Residential Assistance for Families in Transition, this application process is done completely electronically, and can be initiated by completing the pre-application online.

  • Section 8: Metro Housing recently made the application for the Housing Choice Voucher program available and submittable electronically.

Health Care (MA Legal Help)

  • ​If you have experienced a loss of wages due to the COVID-19 outbreak, you may be eligible for MassHealth or subsidized coverage through the Health Connector, which opened enrollment to all uninsured residents and is accepting applications through May 25. If you are under the age of 65 and do not require long term care, you can apply for MassHealth or the Health Connector online www.mahealthconnector.org or call MassHealth’s Customer Service Center 800-841-2900 TTY: 800-497-4648.

  • MassHealth Limited is available on an emergency basis to all Massachusetts residents who do not qualify for public health insurance programs due to their immigration status, and will cover the costs of testing and treatment for COVID-19

  • The Commonwealth’s Health Safety Net program is also available to qualifying low-income MA residents no matter their immigration status, and will pay for testing and treatment for COVID-19 provided by hospitals and community health centers.​

Unemployment (Mass.Gov) - Have you lost your job or had hours reduced due to COVID-19?

  • Where to start: Sign up or tune in to a live DUA unemployment daily virtual town hall

  • Avoid common mistakes: ***read this FAQ BEFORE you apply***

  • Reaching the DUA: If you're a constituent having issues securing a successful application, please contact my office with the following information: Full Name, Address, Phone, Email, Last 4 SSN, Last Employer, File Date, Claimant ID, The Details, Your Ask

  • Expanded unemployment under the CARES Act (coming 4/30): new FAQ

  • Need help? filing an Unemployment Insurance claim online because you don't read English or don't have regular access to a computer? Use this form to provide basic contact information, and Greater Boston Legal Services will call you to provide assistance by phone.

  • Spanish Application (available as of 4/11): mass.gov/desempleo

Economic Impact Payments (IRS website) *BEWARE OF SCAMS: IRS/SSA NEVER CALL*

  • Get My Payment: No further action is needed by taxpayers who filed tax returns in 2018 and 2019 and most seniors and retirees. Eligible taxpayers with qualifying children under age 17 can receive an extra $500. For taxpayers who filed tax returns in 2018 or 2019, the child payments will be automatic.

  • Non Tax Filers: if you aren't typically required to file tax returns AND you have children who qualify, an EXTRA STEP: NON FILERS ENTER PAYMENT INFO HERE is needed to add $500 per child onto the automatic payment of $1,200.

  • SSI & SSDI recipients: YOU DO NOT NEED TO DO ANYTHING; expect to see your payments like you normally would (but from Treasury not SSA) before early May.

  • No SSN? options: Benefits Available to All Regardless of Immigration Status

  • Regularly Updated Legal Resource: https://www.masslegalhelp.org/covid-19/stimulus-payment

Maintaining Emotional Health and Well-Being

  • Wildlife

  • Connect with an online community of naturalists to learn about wild plants and animals in MA. Join MassWildlife’s iNaturalist project to see and add to species info. for featured properties.

  • Coloring pages for kids

  • Anyone feeling overwhelmed with sadness, anxiety or stress, or who wants to harm themselves or others, can access the mental health, emotional support, and suicide prevention program Call2Talk by dialing 2-1-1. Call2Talk is also available by calling 508-532-2255 or by texting C2T to 741741.

  • NAMI's COVID Guide

State Updates

NEW MA COVID-19 Response Dashboard - MEMA has developed and maintains a public-facing COVID-19 ArcGIS Online dashboard - it's continuously updated and captures information about current COVID 19 case counts, cases by age, cases by county, hospital status, hospital bed status, death tolls, and deaths by age. Users should refresh the dashboard on a daily basis as enhancements are continuously being added.

  • 4/14 - The Governor signed an order to increase the National Guard’s response from 2,000 to 5,000 members. The National Guard has been working to increase the number of beds for COVID-19 patients by setting up field hospitals across the Commonwealth. This increase will allow more flexibility with the emergency response as the COVID-19 outbreak continues to evolve.

  • 4/15 - The Administration announced multiple steps to support long-term care facilities, including rate increases for facilities that create dedicated COVID-19 wings and units, continuing onsite testing through the Mobile Testing program, contracting with a firm specializing in nursing home crisis management to assist with staffing, vendors, and implementing infection control measures, and mobilizing rapid-response clinical teams to provide short-term support to facilities with a high volume of cases or with critical staffing needs.

  • 4/15 - To meet staffing needs at long-term care facilities, the Administration has set up a Long-Term Portal to match individuals seeking work with facilities. There will be a $1,000 signing bonus to all individuals that register through the portal and work for a certain amount of time. To register, visit: https://covid19ltc.umassmed.edu/

  • 4/15 - The RMV announced a 60-day extension for most credential, passenger plate registrations, and inspection stickers expired or expiring in May will receive a 60-day extension. This is in addition to the previously announced 60-day extension for Match and April.

  • 4/15 - Attorney General Healey launched a new website - https://www.frontlinema.org/ - to provide resources for healthcare workers and first responders. This website will also have information for the public regarding how to help and thank our frontline workers responding to the COVID-19 crisis.

  • 4/16 - The nation’s first contact tracing initiative is now underway in Massachusetts. If you are contacted by someone working for the initiative through the organization Partners in Health, you are urged to take the call and provide relevant information. The program will help determine who infected patients have had close contact with and help craft isolation strategies to prevent the spread of the virus. Learn more here: https://www.pih.org/ma-response.

  • 4/16 - The Department of Early Education and Care, in conjunction with the Departmen