Updated 10/22/2020: MWCIL has collected COVID-19 resources for people with disabilities. Some of the programs listed below may have expired; follow up with the providers to confirm all details. And if you have a disability, and need assistance, MWCIL continues to be fully staffed.
The information on MA reopening is confusing, as our infection rates have recently climbed and many communities are in the “red” zone (more than 8 cases per 100,000). Schools (Boston) have returned to complete remote learning.
At the same time, the weather is getting colder with outdoor activities becoming more difficult. As restaurants, etc, close their outdoor dining facilities and move indoors, expert warn that the rates of infection may climb even higher.
The MA Department of Public Health releases weekly Covid-19 Public Health Reports. Going forward, these reports will be released on Thursdays. To view the report archives, visit Archive of COVID-19 Weekly Public Health Reports – Reports from the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH).
Visit mass.gov on reopening to learn the current state information on reopening.
DDS Visitation Guidelines: Visit mass.gov on DDS Visitation for revised guidelines from July 1.
Masks are now required in public places where social distancing is not possible. This applies to both indoor and outdoor spaces. Exceptions include children under the age of 2 and those unable to wear a mask or face covering due to a medical condition. Visit mass.gov on wearing masks for more information.
MWCIL Service Town Resources
MWCIL Service Area: MWCIL is researching the resources from the 26 towns in our service area. Update information includes the latest on Senior Centers, Town Halls, Food pantries and more.
Visit SMOC.org to learn more about their services during the Covid-19 crisis
Framingham: Beginning July 6, City Hall, 150 Concord Street, will be completely open to the public, Mon., Wed., and Thurs., 8:30 a.m.-4 p.m.; Tues. 8:30 a.m.-6 p.m.; and Fri. 8:30 a.m.-1 p.m. Visit Framinghamma.gov/covid19 for coronavirus updates.
MWRTA has launched the “4 Grocery” shuttle to run hourly between 7 a.m. and 5 p.m. to carry shoppers from the Framingham hub to the Market Basket in Ashland, Roche Bros. in Natick, and the Wegman’s at the Natick Mall. Read more at www.mwrta.com.
Framingham has announced a financial relief program which will help provide assistance with rent, mortgage, and/or utility payments for a period of two months to alleviate the burden on households which have seen a loss of employment and their primary income as of 3/10/2020. Download the application: www.framinghamma.gov/DocumentCenter/View/37558/CDBG-Rental-Assistance–Application
From Senate President Karen Spilka
Senator Spilka has a page with the latest updates on the virus: karenspilka.com/covid.
Visit memamaps.maps.arcgis.com/apps for an interactive state-wide map of testing sites.
Starting August 31st, Framingham will have an additional FREE, open-to-everyone walk-up COVID-19 testing site at South Middlesex Opportunity Council (SMOC) 7 Bishop Street, Framingham. Open Mondays, Wednesdays & Fridays 3-6 pm.
Survey from Disability Policy Consortium
Over the course of this summer, DPC’s YESHealth research team reached our to the community to learn how COVID-19 is affecting your healthcare, and the response was enormous: more than four hundred people got back to us to share their concerns and their needs for systemic change. Read the full study – it’s concerning: HowisCOVID19affectinghealthcareservicesforpersonswithdisabilitiesinMassachusetts.pdf
Masks for PCAs
MA Department of Public Health
DPH has posted information and fact sheets in several languages, as well as updated Massachusetts information on Covid-19 at Mass.gov DPH.
General MassHealth Information: www.mass.gov/coronavirus-disease-covid-19-and-masshealth
90 Day Supplies of Medication for MassHealth Members: www.mass.gov/doc/pharmacy-facts-141-march-12-2020-0/download
PPE – Personal Protection Equipment for Covid-19 Positive Members
MassHealth PPE Program for COVID-19 Positive Members will get a supply of personal protective equipment (PPE) sent to the home of MassHealth members receiving certain MassHealth covered in-home services and supports and who have a documented case of COVID-19 so that they can continue to receive services at home by their personal care attendant (PCA), independent nurse, or direct care worker. Download the file below for more information.
PCA Overtime Limits: MassHealth is temporarily suspending the overtime limits (weekly hour limits) listed under 130 CMR 422.418(A) for the PCA program. Pursuant to this change, until further notice, a Consumer may schedule a PCA to work overtime hours without requiring prior authorization from MassHealth. Consumers should schedule their PCAs with the health and well-being of both Consumer and PCA in mind.
Please note that you still cannot exceed the maximum number of hours per week approved for in your PA. This is only waiving the overtime piece in case a PCA needs to work additional hours for more than 1 consumer putting them over 40 hours. The PCA will not be in danger of being sanctioned by MassHealth until further notice. Learn more from mass.gov pca overtime.
Temporary Expansion of Home Health Aide Services: Please visit the link and learn more about how anyone experiencing disruption in their PCA services can user Home Health Aide Services. Read www.mass.gov/doc/home-health-agency-bulletin-56/download or visit MassOptions.org. MassOptions hotline at 1-844-422-6277.
If you or a family member or friend is a MassHealth member who receives hands-on support from a Personal Care Attendant (PCA) but is short PCAs during the COVID-19 outbreak, call the MassOptions hotline at 1-844-422-6277 to obtain home health aide services.
Long Term Supports and Services, including PCA Management Agencies and Fiscal Intermediaries: https://www.mass.gov/doc/ltss-provider-updates-for-covid-19/download
As the COVID-19 situation evolves, CHAPA is adapting their operations and policy priorities. COVID-19 Affordable Housing Resources: www.chapa.org.
DHCD and RAFT
Department of Community and Housing Development (DHCD) – including updates for Residential Assistance for Families in Transition (RAFT) Program – www.mass.gov/info-details/covid-19-dhcd-website#residential-assistance-for-families-in-transition-(raft)-program-and-covid-19-state-of-emergency-
CDC Issues Sweeping Temporary Halt on Evictions
On September 2nd, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued an emergency order that will protect an estimated 40 million renters nationwide from threat of eviction until the end of the year. Get all of the details at www.nationaldisabilityinstitute.org.
Massachusetts Food Pantries at foodpantries.org.
Call Project Bread’s Food Source Hotline: 1-800-645-8333
Call Mass 2-1-1
The Mass. Department of Transitional Assistance (DTA) is issuing emergency SNAP (food stamp) supplements to many SNAP households to help buy food during the pandemic crisis. Congress approved special SNAP supplement benefits in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Apply on-line at www.mass.gov/how-to/apply-for-snap-benefits-food-stamps.
Massachusetts residents can use SNAP benefits to purchase groceries online via Walmart and Amazon, with more grocery retailers hopefully joining the program soon. Visit Mass.gov snap for more information.
Most districts are now reopening, either remotely or with a hybrid model. Learn more at www.doe.mass.edu/covid19.
The National Disability Institute has put together resource pages about the financial impact that Covid-19 has on people with disabilities and those with chronic health conditions, as well as their families and communities. Visit their National Resilience Center for more information.
Prepaid debit cards were sent to people whose bank account information was not on file with the IRS. This includes SSDI and SSI recipients who did not file taxes in 2018 or 2019. Some people discarded these cards, thinking they were a scam.
- Prepaid Stimulus Flyer (pdf) from the National Consumer Law Center (NCLC)
- Youtube video about the prepaid stimulus card
- More information at EIPCard.com
Visit the State Unemployment Insurance page for online application forms, as well as links to rules and exceptions during the Covid-19 pandemic. www.mass.gov/unemployment-insurance-ui-online.
The Mass. Department of Unemployment Assistance put together this guide on How to File for Unemployment during COVID-19: www.mass.gov/doc/filing-a-new-unemployment-claim-covid-19/download.
Apply for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance: Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) provides up to 39 weeks of unemployment benefits to individuals who are unable to work because of a COVID-19-related reason but are not eligible for regular or extended unemployment benefits. www.mass.gov/how-to/apply-for-pandemic-unemployment-assistance
For people who have lost employer based health insurance, see the MassHealth special enrollment for Health Connector.
See updates on benefits related to Covid-19: www.ssa.gov/coronavirus
Recipients of Supplemental Security Income (SSI) will automatically receive automatic Economic Impact Payments. Download the document for more information:
Economic Impact Payments (CARES)
Frequently Asked Questions from Congressman Jim McGovern: mcgovern.house.gov/uploadedfiles/cares_act_rebates_faq.pdf.
MA Attorney General
The Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office’s work as the People’s Law Firm continues amidst the Coronavirus public health emergency. The AG’s Office is warning Massachusetts residents to be on alert for individuals and businesses that may try to take advantage of uncertainty about COVID-19.
The AG’s hotlines will still be fully staffed during the regular hours. Visit the AG web page at mass.gov AG for more resources.
Nursing Home Family Resource Line
Open Every Day – 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM – a dedicated phone line to connect family members of nursing home and rest home residents with the information and resources they need.
This new phone line provides one central contact for families and community members who have questions about the nursing home or rest home care their loved one is receiving during the COVID-19 outbreak. Staff will field questions on a range of topics and coordinate across state agencies to help provide answers.
The CDC.gov website has the latest information on COVID-19, including prevention, symptoms and what to do if you get sick. .
Johns Hopkins Medicine has information, including a “Self Checker” to help you evaluate your own health. Scroll down to see it all: www.hopkinsmedicine.org/coronavirus/index.html
- Challenges for people with autism: www.spectrumnews.org/news/flattening-the-curve-may-pose-tough-challenge-for-autistic-people
- Resources for those in recovery from substance abuse by Natick Health Department: mcusercontent.com/65f459b465f99361bcee7b2b5/files/61e40f15-1f91-4fd6-a823-ebb1446de041/COVID_19_Recovery_Resources_6_.pdf
- Mental Health and Covid-19 – From the Mental Health Collaborative in Hopkinton: www.mentalhealthcollaborative.org/CDN/news-and-events/mental-health-and-covid-19-update
- Resource page from NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) Massachusetts: namimass.org/online-and-phone-support-options/
- Institute for Health and Recovery, Inc. has shared a comprehensive document listing many kinds of community resources for coping and accessing help during COVID-19.
- Comprehensive document listing many kinds of community resources for coping and accessing help during COVID-19: Covid-19 Online and Phone Resources (pdf).
Deaf and Hard of Hearing Resources
American Sign Language
- ASL Coronavirus Hotline from CSD (Communication Service for the Deaf) – www.csd.org/coronavirus – you can call using videophone. Vlogs and articles about COVID-19 are created by Deaf people. There are links to trusted sources (like World Health Organization and CDC) for news about the pandemic.
- The CDC has created several helpful American Sign Language videos. Visit YouTube.com.
- Six Tips for Anxiety and Fear from Dr. Jaime Wilson a Deaf Neurophsychologist – dpan.tv/programs/interviewdrjaime-finalmp4-e8db49
- March 11, 2020 Update from MCDHH Commissioner Steven A. Florio – www.youtube.com/watch?v=IinFKi5zykE&feature=youtu.be
Other Deaf and Hard of Hearing Resources
- Center for Living and Working: Deaf and Hard of Hearing Independent Living Services (CLW-DHILS) – Special Edition Newsletter 4-3-2020.pdf
- The Massachusetts Commission for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (MCDHH) has created a Visual Communication tool for Covid-19
- ASL Therapists in MA – from Psychology Today
Disability Rights and Healthcare
We have heard threats and warnings that healthcare may need to be rationed, and that “someone” may have to decide who gets treated and who does not. These warnings are especially frightening for people with disabilities who may feel undervalued. The Disability Rights and Education Fund has compiled information on this topic. You can download their pdf document: Preventing Discrimination in the Treatment of COVID-19 Patients: The Illegality of Medical Rationing on the Basis of Disability.
From HHS – a bulletin from March 28: Civil Rights, HIPAA,and the Coronavirus Disease 2019 .pdf
From the Center for Dignity in Healthcare for People with Disabilities is this one page fact sheet for health care providers.
From ACL (Administration for Community Living)
ACL has compiled resources for seniors and people with disabilities: acl.gov/COVID-19.
COVID-19 Info By and For People with Disabilities
Downloadable 8 page plain-language booklet: COVID-19 Information By and For People with Disabilities from the Green Mountain Self Advocates and the Vermont Developmental Disabilities Council:
Download COVID-19 Plain Language Guidance for Employees with Developmental Disabilities, describing OSHA rules and including information and tools to use to make a decision about going out in public during the COVID-19 outbreak. selfadvocacyinfo.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/10/COVID-19-Plain-Language-Guidance-for-Employees-with-Developmental-Disabilities-ENTIRE-BOOKLET.pdf