COVID-19 Resources

PLEASE NOTE THAT BOTH PAWTUCKET AND RHODE ISLAND ARE UNDER A STATE OF EMERGENCY, A DESIGNATION THAT LETS US ACCESS RESOURCES MORE QUICKLY.

Pawtucket has been its best self throughout this crisis. On this website you can find a number of resources to help us cope with the Covid-19 pandemic; I’ll add more as I find them. The big stuff first:

We are stronger together. Talk with your neighbors (from a distance of 6 feet or more, or on the phone) about emergency planning. Check in on each other. If your neighborhood has a website or social media page, join it to maintain access to neighbors, information, and resources (NextDoor has sites for both Woodlawn and Oak Hill).

Create an emergency contact list. Ensure your household has a current list of emergency contacts for family, friends, neighbors, carpool drivers, health care providers, teachers, employers, the local public health department, and other community resources.

On March 16th, Governor Raimondo and Department of Health Director Dr. Alexander-Scott provided additional guidance on public meetings and crowds. Customer-facing services at the Rhode Island Department of Human Services (DHS), Department of Labor and Training (DLT), and HealthSource RI will be moving to online and telephone-only services until further notice. This includes all new applications, renewals, or changes in benefits. Individuals who need to drop off paper applications will be able to do so without speaking with a customer service representative. The Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) announced earlier today that licensing road tests will be cancelled through the end of the week. In addition, beginning tomorrow, all DMV satellite offices will be closed. 

Keep being kind to each other; I am forever proud to represent this community!

*****

GENERAL HEALTH AND PRECAUTIONS

Check out the RIDOH & CDC Fact Sheet

The best advice I’ve gotten so far: don’t act like you don’t want to get the virus; act like you have the virus and don’t want to spread it!

The measures we all take now protect not just ourselves, but our neighbors, and help to keep our healthcare systems from being overwhelmed. Wash your hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. For a 20 second count, Sing “Happy Birthday” twice.


INSURANCE AND TESTING

Rhode Island Department of Health has a hotline for Coronavirus information: 401-222-8022.

For those who are uninsured: HealthSource RI, Rhode Island’s Obamacare Exchange, has a special enrollment period that is open through April 30. HealthSource has many income-based options for both individuals and families. Your insurance will start the first day of the month after you enroll.

Care New England will place a Respiratory Infections Triage Unit on the former Memorial Hospital property in order to support the Coronavirus-related efforts throughout the Blackstone Valley. The site will provide medical assessment services related to Coronavirus in multiple languages, including American Sign Language. It will be staffed by Care New England medical professionals Monday-Friday 8am-5pm. Symptomatic patients should call their primary care provider or call 401-CareNOW (401-227-3669) to make an appointment. 

Rhode Island Medicaid is suspending all terminations and quarterly income verifications for the duration of this emergency. This means that people who are on medicaid today and need care have access to care throughout the duration of the crisis. 

Governor Raimondo announced on Saturday, March 14, that testing and treatment for COVID-19 will be free for Rhode Islanders, with no co-pay or out of pocket expenses.

UTILITIES, HOUSING, RENTAL ASSISTANCE, AND EVICTIONS

The Public Utilities Commission last week extended an order that all regulated utilities (electric, gas, water, sewer) cannot be shut off or sent to a collection agency through May 8. This applies to both residential and non-residential customers. If you can pay your utilities, we need you to do that. But nobody should be suffering from utility shut-offs during this crisis, and utilities will not be shutting anyone off at least through May 8.
 
This combines with a previously announced closure of state courts for routine business, which prevents landlords from obtaining eviction orders.

Rhode Island has made $1.5 million in emergency rental assistance available to low-income renters who have been impacted by the COVID-19 emergency and are at immediate risk of homelessness. Those who qualify can receive a grant of up to $5,000 to support past due rent payments and other fees. Requirement information and details are available at HousingHelpRI.com or by calling 211. Information is here.


SCHOOL AND MEALS

Senior residents needing meals can contact the Leon Mathieu Senior Center at 401-312-0266 or by email to: seniors@pawtucketri.comProgreso Latino is also serving lunch to Pawtucket residents.

Free Grab-n-go lunches are available for Pawtucket school students at the following locations from 11am-1pm:

  • Jenks Middle School – 350 Division St.

  • Goff Middle School – 974 Newport Ave.

  • Slater Middle School – 281 Mineral Spring Ave.

  • Tolman High School – 150 Exchange St.

  • Shea High School – 485 East Ave.

  • Fallon Elementary School – 62 Lincoln Ave.

  • Curtis Elementary School – 582 Benefit St.

  • Baldwin Elementary School – 50 Whitman St.

A number of companies are offering free kids’ activities and educational resources while the schools are closed. See a list here.

The Rhode Island Coalition for the Homeless has a pretty good list of sites throughout the state that are serving meals.

PUBLIC SERVICES

Pawtucket City Hall will be open to the public by appointments from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. from Monday through Friday starting on Monday, March 30th. An appointment will not be needed to visit City Collector’s Office. Appointments can be made here.

Mattress and e-waste collection has been suspended until further notice. Yard waste collection is delayed by a month. Other city services (trash pickup, etc.) will continue as normal. 

TAXES

In very positive news: the city council and Mayor Grebien announced last week that tax rates for the upcoming fiscal year billing cycle will be held flat, for both residential and commercial property. This no-tax-increase budget commitment comes as more and more coronavirus-related restrictions get imposed on businesses and unemployment claims are skyrocketing.


NEIGHBORHOOD SUPPORT AND SOLIDARITY

  • Woodlawn/Oak Hill Neighborhood Support Network: There is need in our community to help our neighbors who are most at-risk of Coronavirus with things like food shopping, runs to the pharmacy, etc. There is also need coming from the senior centers in Pawtucket, and there will be more need in the coming days. So if you are not in an at-risk group and are willing to do some helping out (primarily in the form of running errands), please text “Helper Here” to 574/387-8291. You can also email gregory@waksmulski.net, our point person, or myself: mkallman@pawtucketri.com

  • For Individuals: Unemployment and TDI information.

  • Utilities: National Grid, Cox, Verizon, and Providence Water have all committed to stopping collection actions and cut-offs for the coming months.

  • Commercial Programs: Cox is offering a low-cost internet plan for families with school age kids

  • AMOR has an incredible list of statewide resources. Check it out here.


DONATIONS

Here are some outfits supporting our most vulnerable. If you have money to contribute, here are some of the groups who could use our support:

  • AMOR has done incredible organizing in the Rhode Island community, and can always use financial support. Donate to them here.

  • RI Pride is running an emergency food, toiletries, and supply drive.

  • COVID-19 RI Hospitality Relief Fund. This emergency fund was created for our hospitality members of Providence, Rhode island who have been directly affected by the COVID-19 Pandemic. They are also setting up free childcare for hospitality employees.

  • COVID-19 Emergency Funding for Artists, supporting members of the creative community who are out of work.


SMALL BUSINESS

  • The U.S. Small Business Administration will offer low-interest federal disaster loans for working capital up to $2 million to #RhodeIsland small businesses suffering substantial economic injury as a result of the Coronavirus. Apply online, receive additional disaster assistance information, and download applications at: https://disasterloan.sba.gov/ela Call SBA’s Customer Service Center at (800) 659-2955 or email disastercustomerservice@sba.gov for more information. If a paper forms are preferred, get them at: https://disasterloan.sba.gov/ela/Information/PaperForms. With questions, please call RI Commerce’s Small Business Hotline at (401) 521-HELP or e-mail info@commerceri.com.

  • Call Commerce RI’s Small Business Hotline during business hours at (401) 521-HELP or e-mail info@commerceri.com anytime.

  • The City of Pawtucket also has a small-business loan program to help businesses in our community that are affected by the COVID-19 outbreak. Find information here

  • Here is list of Pawtucket restaurants that are offering takeout and delivery. We continue to encourage everyone to support our local businesses to the extent that they are able. 

UNEMPLOYMENT INSURANCE & ASSISTANCE FOR INDIVIDUALS AND SMALL BUSINESS

The Department of Labor and Training is the portal for unemployment, both for gig economy workers, full-time staff, and small businesses. The portal is available in English and Spanish; click here

ELECTIONS AND THE CENSUS

The RI primary has been moved to June 2 because of the COVID-19 outbreak. Please note that 
all registered voters will be sent a mail ballot. If for some reason you do not receive an application to vote by mail, click here to apply

Even with so much on our minds, the census is still on! By now, you should have also received your letters, including invitations to fill out the census by phone, online, or by mail. The 2020 Census will determine how more than $700 billion in federal government resources will be distributed each year for the next decade to states and localities. Census data is used to determine where schools, roads, hospitals, child care centers, senior centers and other services should be built. Key federal programs rely on data and allocations from the census, including: Medicaid, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Medicare Part B, Highway Planning and Construction, Section 8, Title I Grants, Special Education Grants (IDEA), State Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), and Head Start. In other words, if we don’t fill out the census, we are depriving our community of vital resources that help us stay strong. So please: fill it out if you haven’t already done so!

STIMULUS PAYMENTS

Rhode Islanders began receiving direct cash payments last week via the direct deposit information that the IRS has on file.  The payments are $1,200 for workers and Social Security beneficiaries making up to $75,000 ($150,000 for a couple), plus $500 for every child age 16 and younger.  You can check your status on the IRS website

MORE READING – SOCIAL JUSTICE, SOCIAL SCIENCE, AND CORONAVIRUS

I’m a professor after all, and I can never resist adding a few relevant readings to any list of resources! Here are some options to check out (these are all adult-specific).

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