A guest post by Ally Dowds, a Health & Human Services Research Specialist at the Boston Public Library.
Last Updated January 25, 2022. Please see this Research Guide instead. Due to the rapidly changing status of the COVID-19 coronavirus, parts of this post may be out of date.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 Commission's coronavirus page will be kept up-to-date and will include location-specific information you may need to know. The City of Boston press releases regarding COVID-19 are also available.
The BPL has separate posts on COVID-19 vaccine resources and how to evaluate information in the news and social media about the virus.
We have put together a list of resources below from reputable organizations that can provide you with up-to-date information.
- 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
Starting on January 15, 2022, individuals will be required to show proof of vaccination against COVID-19 in order to enter certain indoor spaces in Boston. People working in those locations will also be required to have received their vaccines. Locations include:
- Indoor dining, including bars and nightclubs
- Indoor fitness
- Indoor entertainment
- You can view a full detailed list of covered locations.
COVID-19 Testing in Massachusetts
Get tested if you have COVID-like symptoms, have traveled or been in large gatherings, are at high risk for complications from COVID-19, or are a close contact of someone with COVID-19.
Every home in the U.S. is eligible to order 4 free at-home COVID-19 tests. The tests are completely free. Orders will usually ship in 7-12 days.
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
- Vaccine Explainers 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.
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:
- Q&A about the booster shot
- 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), testing, and vaccine distribution
- COVID cases by city/town
- Information about testing for COVID-19 in Massachusetts
- Printable fact sheets available in various languages
- Fact sheets and posters in six different languages
- The difference between COVID-19 and the flu
- Boston Case Numbers
- Guidance for the public, available in multiple languages
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 and 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 and 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
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.
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 COVID-19 outbreak. 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
- 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 U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General has a dedicated page listing potential scams and fraud schemes related to COVID-19. 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)!