COVID-19

What is COVID-19?

COVID-19 is an abbreviation for the coronavirus first identified in Wuhan, China in late 2019. A coronavirus is a large family of viruses often causing upper-respiratory illnesses that were in our communities before the 2019 novel coronavirus outbreak. Scientists are working around the world to uncover more information on COVID-19 to understand how it is transmitted, how it can be prevented, and how it can be medically treated.

You have probably heard about a series of laws announced in response to COVID-19.

They are:

I. Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Supplemental Appropriations Act (H.R. 6074) Included: Funds to develop, manufacture, and procure vaccines and other medical supplies; Offer grants for state, local, and tribal public health agencies and organizations; Provide loans to affected small businesses; Launch evacuations and emergency preparedness activities across the globe; and Provide humanitarian assistance and support for health systems affected countries

II. Family First Coronavirus Response (H.R. 2601)Included: Insurance/Medicaid/CHIP resources and mandates; Mandates for paid and family sick leave, including by public agencies; Funding relief provided by legislation for private sector for mandated sick/family (leave is not provided for public sector agencies); Unemployment insurance resources; Resources for SNAP/WIC, SNAP flexibilities, Emergency SNAP, School Lunch assistance, Emergency Food Assistance, Senior Nutrition

III. Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act (H.R. 748) Included: Direct payments to eligible taxpayers; Expanded unemployment insurance; Funding for state and local governments; Expanded liquidity lending for businesses and local governments; New loans and grants for small businesses; Funding for hospitals for ventilators and other equipment Source: Webinar on Resources for Local Governments in Federal Coronavirus Response and Programs by the International City – County Management

Cares Act for Municipal Government

The Commonwealth has made funds available to municipalities in Massachusetts through the CARES Act Coronavirus Relief Fund – Municipal Program. Please view the latest memorandum which recommends a set of “next steps” to recipients of this support, including municipalities, school districts, and other entities, that have received funds from the CARES Act Coronavirus Relief Fund and includes information about reporting requirements and seeking FEMA reimbursement for eligible costs. In addition, please review the most recently updated set of Frequently Ask Questions for additional information.

What is my community doing to respond to COVID-19?

From the international community to your local Board of Health, there are coordinated, ongoing efforts underway to address COVID-19 and its impacts.

General information from the Federal government:
https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html

What I can find here: How to protect yourself and what to do if you are sick
General information from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts:
https://www.mass.gov/info-details/covid-19-updates-and-information

What I can find here: Daily updates for Massachusetts on COVID-19

Information from the Massachusetts Department of Public Health:
https://www.mass.gov/resource/information-on-the-outbreak-of-coronavirus-disease-2019-covid-19

What I can find here: Tracking of cases, testing sites, and directives

Information from the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency on the Federal Disaster Declaration:
https://www.mass.gov/info-details/covid-19-federal-disaster-declaration

What I can find here: Information on the federal disaster declaration for Massachusetts Request MEMA listserv updates by emailing bonnie.roy@state.ma.us

If you would like to volunteer or donate, but don’t know how to get involved, we recommend contacting Berkshire United Way:
https://www.berkshireunitedway.org/volunteer-advocate

Note temporary changes in the Open Meeting Law:
https://www.mass.gov/the-open-meeting-law

What resources are available to help municipalities recover from COVID-19?

While we are still responding to COVID-19, we want to be set up for recovery. Recovery is the process of bouncing back from a disaster, such as COVID-19, in all aspects including, but not limited to, restoring health, social, and community services; promoting economic development; and restoring natural and cultural resources.

Important
FEMA is authorized to reimburse eligible applicants (municipalities and some other institutions) for work that falls within Category B: Emergency Protective Measures.

Details here: https://www.fema.gov/coronavirus/fact-sheets

FEMA utilizes a web-based grants management system. The Portal will be used to submit the Request for Public Assistance (RPA), identify and upload costs, upload required backup documentation, and track the status of all projects.

To request access to FEMA PA Grants Portal, fill out the spreadsheet (Grants Portal Registration Request Form) and send to disaster.recovery@mass.gov

Questions should be directed to MEMA. More information on the MEMA website:
https://www.mass.gov/info-details/covid-19-federal-disaster-declaration

Get all the details on eligibility for FEMA reimbursement from the FEMA Public Assistance Program and Policy Guide (PAPPG):
https://www.fema.gov/media-library/assets/documents/111781

Disaster Financial Management Guide:
https://www.fema.gov/media-library/assets/documents/187126

Information on FEMA reimbursement for the purchase and distribution of food:
https://www.fema.gov/news-release/2020/04/12/coronavirus-covid-19-pandemic-purchase-and-distribution-food-eligible-public

Information on the U.S. Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) – Disaster Recovery (DR) funding. https://www.hudexchange.info/resource/6006/cdbg-dr-covid-19-faqs/

Information on the Massachusetts CDBG CARES Act Program:
https://www.mass.gov/service-details/community-development-block-grant-cdbg

The USDA has provided a one-stop-shop for rural community resources here:
https://www.rd.usda.gov/sites/default/files/USDA_COVID-19_Fed_Rural_Resource_Guide.pdf

If you are a local business, please visit:
https://1berkshire.com/news/covid-19-response/

Food access and Transportation
Covid-19_Resources – May 1 Updates