A guest post by Ally Dowds, a Health & Human Services Research Specialist at the Boston Public Library.
Last Updated March 30, 9:35 a.m. Due to the rapidly changing status of the COVID-19 coronavirus, parts of this post may be out of date.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.
- As of March 12, the Massachusetts 211 line is equipped to answer general questions about COVID-19 if you can’t reach a medical professional.
- With the closure of the Boston Public Schools, the City of Boston will continue to provide free breakfast and lunch for all Boston students. Please review the City of Boston's map of meal sites for children and youth.
- Older adults can visit many Community Cafe sites at various Ethos locations in the city and pick up "Grab & Go" meals. Find a listing of locations and hours here.
- We have separate posts on help for small businesses during this time, unemployment resources, and mutual aid organizations.
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.
What is the COVID-19?
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the coronavirus disease 2019, or COVID-19, causes respiratory illness in people. It can spread from person to person through “respiratory droplets” that occur when an infected person sneezes or coughs. Symptoms range from mild to severe. Common symptoms that present 2-14 days after exposure include fever, cough, and shortness of breath. The virus was first reported from Wuhan, China on December 31, 2019, but is now confirmed in 150 locations internationally, including in the United States. The World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a pandemic on March 11, 2020.
The CDC is a federal public health institute of the United States. It offers current information about:
- prevention and treatment,
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 for basic protective measures,
- 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 linkopens 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 testopens a new window developed at the university
- guidance from Johns Hopkins about social distancingopens a new window
- listening to episodes from its Public Health On Callopens 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 COVID-19 preparation in MA,
- its infectious disease emergency plan, and
- 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
- 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
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 and childbirth,opens a new window interim guidance for breastfeedingopens a new window, and COVID-19 and children by clicking on these links. 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 May 4. 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. Find more information here. Approved Exempt Emergency Child Care programs can be viewed 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 programsopens a new window
- tips for taking care of your behavioral healthopens a new window
The CDC also includes guidance for how to manage stress, anxiety and fearopens 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.
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)!