A guest post by Ally Dowds, a Health & Human Services Research Specialist at the Boston Public Library.
Last Updated February 5, 10:10 a.m. Due to the rapidly changing status of the COVID-19 coronavirus, parts of this post may be out of date. For the latest information, please visit the Centers for Disease Control’s coronavirus page. The Massachusetts Department of Public Health's coronavirus page and the Boston Public Health Comission's coronavius page will be kept up to date and will include location-specific information you may need to know. The BPL has separate posts on help for small businesses during this time, unemployment resources, mutual aid organizations, COVID-19 vaccine resources, and how to evaluate information in the news and social media about the virus.
- Sign up for text message alerts
- Send COVIDMA to 888-777/Envíe COVIDMAESP al 888-777
- Call 2-1-1 or use live chat for non-emergency questions and help
- Nursing Home Family Resource Line/617-660-5399, 9 a.m.-5 p.m., 7 days a week.
- City of Boston's map of food resources for youth and adults
- Location listings for Ethos' Community Cafe sites and grab and go meals for older adults
In hopes of answering questions you may have and calming some anxieties about the coronavirus, we have put together a list of resources below from reputable organizations that can provide you with up-to-date information.
As of May 18, 2020, the Baker-Polito Administration announced a comprehensive plan to safely reopen the Massachusetts economy, get people back to work, and ease social restrictions while minimizing the health impacts of COVID-19. The above webpage includes:
- Reopening MA Report
- General Business Guidelines
- Outline of the Four-Phase Approach
- Mandatory Safety Standards for Workplaces
- Additional Guidance and much more
What is COVID-19?
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the coronavirus disease 2019, or COVID-19, causes respiratory illness in people. The virus was first reported from Wuhan, China on December 31, 2019, and was declared a global health pandemic by the World Health Organization on March 11, 2020. Click on the organizational links below for information on symptoms, testing information, prevention and coping methods, and the most recent updates on state and national statistics and response.
The CDC is a federal public health institute of the United States. It offers current information about:
- prevention and treatment,
- information for populations who are at higher risk such as people with disabilities, people experiencing homelessness, and COVID-19 in Racial and Ethnic Minority Groups
The CDC has frequent updates on new cases in the United States, risk assessments by country, and information for travel and travelers. Helpful sections include posters on how to prevent the spread of the virus within your community and a Frequently Asked Question (FAQ) page answering all of your questions.
The WHO provides:
- advice for health workers,
- instructional videos, advice for the public, and downloadable posters and graphics,
- tips for getting your workplace ready, and much more.
It also features myth buster graphics such as the one below to stop the spread of misinformation, that put people and their communities at greater risk. If you would like to donate to the COVID-19 Solidarity Fund to help support the response to this pandemic, you can do so at this link, opens a new window found on the WHO website.
Johns Hopkins experts in global public health, infectious disease, and emergency preparedness have been directly involved in the international response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Learn more about:
- a new screening test, opens a new window developed at the university
- guidance from Johns Hopkins about social distancing, opens a new window
- listening to episodes from its Public Health On Call, opens a new window podcast
- viewing the COVID-19 interactive map that is tracking COVID-19 cases and updated in real time
For the latest on monitoring cases in Massachusetts, the DPH has a section on quarantine and monitoring. This state government website also includes:
- information about personal protective equipment (PPE), distribution, donations, and requests,
- COVID cases by city/town,
- resources for individuals and families on how to help stop the spread of misinformation and learn how to prepare and plan for public health emergencies, and
- Information about testing at the State Public Health Laboratory.
Printable fact sheets are available in various languages.
- a timeline of COVID-19,
- FAQs, and
- fact sheets and posters in six different languages
- Boston Case Numbers
- What you need to know about the effect of COVID-19 in Boston
- MBTA schedules
For more information, call the Mayor's Healthline at 617-534-5050 or Toll-Free: 1-800-847-0710
The Vital Village Learning Community is led by a group of healthcare practitioners from Boston Medical Center, as well as data analysts & researchers from Boston University. Its interactive COVID-19 Resource Map highlights related resources in Boston, such as meal sites and food pantries, specialty grocery stores, COVID-19 testing sites, diaper & hygiene kits, and WIC approved stores. This map is just one example of this organization's many resources created by its partners and community members.
Children, Youth & Families
According to the CDC, COVID-19 is a new disease and we are still learning how it spreads. Please find FAQs about pregnancy, childbirth, breastfeeding, and caring for young children by clicking on this link. The CDC also provides guides for how to get your household ready to prevent the spread of COVID-19 as well as posters on handwashing for children and teens.
As a result of Governor Baker's March 23rd emergency order, all childcare providers are closed until June 29. To support vulnerable children and the children of families designated as "COVID-19 Essential Workforces," who have no other options, the Department of Early Education and Care (EEC) has opened emergency drop-in care programs throughout the state. View approved Exempt Emergency Child Care programs here.
Talking to Your Kids about COVID-19
Need help talking to your kids about COVID-19? Staff at the National Public Radio used interviews from various public health and social work experts to create a comic about what kids may want to know. You can see a snippet below:
The Massachusetts Coalition for LGBTQ Youth has a comprehensive list of resources that includes frequently updated information from partners such as BAGLY, Boston GLASS, and Fenway Health. The resources for LGBTQIA+ Youth during COVID-19 include food and meal sites, mental health & support, virtual chat spaces, financial relief, housing, and healthcare access and information.
The terms outbreak, epidemic, global health emergency, and quarantine often can be trigger words for many people creating anxiety, depression, fear, and distrust.
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) created a Coping with Stress During Infectious Disease Outbreaks fact sheet that describes common signs of stress, how to recognize when to get help, and advice for coping.
- guidance for opioid treatment programs, opens a new window
- tips for taking care of your behavioral health, opens a new window
The CDC also includes guidance for how to manage stress, anxiety and fear, opens a new window during the outbreak of COVID-19. It offers:
- tips for coping
- information for parents on how to help children and teens feel supported
- advice for responders to reduce secondary traumatic stress (STS) reactions
- and, guidance for people living in or being released from quarantine.
The Massachusetts chapter for the National Alliance on Mental Illness includes a resource list of online and call-in options for peer, family, and clinical support for mental health and substance use.
Beware of scams!
The WHO has a dedicated page listing potential scams seeking to steal money or sensitive information from people. Improve your cyber security by reading the WHO’s information and tips.
If you have questions, look for answers at one of these resources, beware of scams, and wash your hands (for at least 20 seconds)!