COVID-19 Updates

Pittsfield Resources: HERE!

Includes information on resturants, free meals, grocery stores (with senior hours), banks, pharmacies, emergency childcare, & local farm delivery information. See real-time updates on this spreadsheet as the office receives more information.

Stay at Home Order

Governor Baker has issued a “Stay At Home” Order.

  • Effective March 24, 2020 at 12:00pm Until May 18, 2020
  • This is not a shelter in place order, just a limit to travel out of your house to reduce transmission of COVID-19. This will be enforced by local officials. 
  • The MA Department of Public Health has issued guidance on following the stay at home order, here.

Details on the Stay At Home order:

  • Essential businesses will remain open and you are allowed to access these businesses as necessary. Essential Businesses include:
    • Grocery stores
    • Pharmacies and all Medical Facilities
    • Gas stations
    • Medical device and product manufacturers
    • For more information on what is included in essential business, click here.
  • All non-essential businesses must close in-person operations and transition to working remotely

Although you are allowed to leave your home to access essential resources, such as grocery stores, Governor Baker urges you to limit outside travel as much as possible in order to truly limit the spread of COVID-19.

  • Please stay home as much as possible!

Additionally, offer to help out vulnerable neighbors!

  • If you are going to the grocery store or pharmacy, ask your 65+ neighbors or those with pre-existing conditions who are at higher risk, if they need anything to help them avoid trips out of the house.
Filing for an essential business excpetion

Fill out this form to request that the service your business provides be deemed as essential for purposes of the Emergency Order.

Berkshire Regional Transit Authority

There will be no changes to any BRTA bus routes or schedules

BRTA has instituted social distancing while riding. 

  • Signs are posted in all vehicles prohibiting seating directly behind the vehicle operator. 

BRTA vehicles and both facilities receive daily cleaning

BRTA has also limited public use of the Intermodal Transportation Center (ITC) by removing tables and increasing spacing between seating to promote social distancing while inside the ITC.

Please only utilize BRTA for transportation for critical trips. 

  • Critical trips include: work related trips, vital appointments, or necessary shopping trips
  • All riders are required to exit the vehicle at the end of the route or at their state destination.
  • Riders may not reboard the same vehicle for a return trip. 
  • Multiple or consecutive round trips are not permitted and loitering riders will be asked to deboard.

When utilizing BRTA please wear a medical or cloth mask to cover your mouth and nose.

For your health and the health of others, if you are sick, have a cough, fever, or other COVID-19 symptoms, do not ride the BRTA bus.

Childcare

Due to Gov. Baker's emergency order, child care centers will be closed starting March 23rd until June 29thChildcare is still available in case of emergency, however it is advised that Emergency Child Care Programs are used only when all other non-group-care settings have been exhausted and families have no other options.

Priority is given to:

  • health care workers
  • essential state and human service workers
  • COVID-19 health workers
  • grocery store employees
  • emergency response personnel
  • law enforcement
  • transportation and infrastructure workers
  • sanitation workers
  • DCF-involved families
  • Families living in shelters

For more information regarding emergency childcare, please visit the EEC section the mass.gov website. On this website you will find guidance and resources for use of emergency child care, enrollment forms, an interactive map of available centers, as well as other information.

To support families of essential employees who have children with special needs, the Department of Early Education and Care (EEC) has partnered with care.com to pair currently unemployed child care workers with families to provide skilled in home care

  • Care.com is offering eligible families and certified employees free memberships, please see their website for more information

Public Schools Update

School will be closed for the remainder of the 2019-2020 school year.

The Pittsfield Public Schools will be providing once-a-day grab-and-go breakfast and lunch packages to children in our city. These nutritious grab-and-go food packages will be available between 11:30 am and 12:30 pm at the following sites in the city:

  • Morningside Community School, 100 Burbank
  • St. Conte Community School, 200 West Union St.
  • Dower Square Housing Village, 253 Wahconah St.
  • The Berkshire Family YMCA, 292 North St.
  • Gladys Brigham Center, 165 East St.
  • Boys & Girls Club of the Berkshires, 16 Melville St.
  • The Brattlebrook Apartments, April Lane
  • Berkshire Peak Apartments, 341 West St.

Utilities Updates

Eversource

Eversource is implementing flexible measures to lessen the financial hardship for all our customers during the COVID-19 crisis.

For all customers:

  • We are suspending service disconnections for non-payment and assisting customers with financial programs to help pay their bill.
  • We are eliminating late payment charges.
  • We are offering a $0 down payment and an eight-month payment arrangement, with the first payment not due until June 1.           

For Massachusetts small business customers:

  • We are also offering small business customers extended payment arrangements.
  • We are offering small business customers $0 down payment and a one-year payment arrangement, with the first payment not due until June 1.
Berkshire Gas

Berkshire Gas has implemented their Emergency Response plan and are committed to maintaining service. They have suspended late payment charges and suspended disconnection of service due to non-payment.

Berkshire Gas also has the following bill payment assistance programs:

  • Low-income discount rate
    • Eligible if you qualify for any means-tested programs; are eligible for LIHEAP and families gross income is 60% or less of MA’s median income level (Less than $46,431); or MA Department of Public Utilities deems you otherwise eligible
  • Financial Hardship
    • Eligible if you meet LIHEAP income eligibility level
  • The Berkshire Gas Residential Arrearage Management Program (RAMP):
    • Eligibility: active natural gas account and currently receiving natural gas service;outstanding bills in arrears of sixty (60) days or more, with a minimum of three hundred ($300.00) dollars in arrears; proof of residence at service location with services billed in your name; combined gross annual household income must fall within the Income Eligibility Guideline for the household size.
    • The customer can apply for and participate in RAMP one time only.
    • For more information regarding applications please contact the Pittsfield representative through the Berkshire Community Action Council at 413.445.5671

For more information on these assistance programs, please call Berkshire Gas at 800.292.5012

Community Partners Update

Elizabeth Freeman Center (43 Francis Ave, Pittsfield, MA 01201)

The Center will remain open. Anyone can call, anytime at:

  • Pittsfield: (413) 499-2425
  • Hotline: 1 (866) 401-2425

At this time, the process with the courts is still being determined but we will update you once we have more information.

Domestic Violence Resources

April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month. During the COVID-19 outbreak, survivors: you are not forgotten and you are not alone.

Support services & resources are still available in the following expanded online capacities:

  • Abuse prevention orders are still available through local police departments, safe plan advocates, and the courts
    • Courts can be reached at 1 (833) 91COURTS (912-6878), Mon.-Fri. from 8:30am-4:30pm
  • Safelink toll-free and confidential hotline is available 24/7 in English & Spanish with translation services in more than 130 languages
    • Call toll-free at 1 (877) 785-2020 or connect via the Massachusetts 2-1-1 line
    • Call these hotlines at a time when the abuser is in sight but cannot hear you
    • In its expanded capacity, Safelink can now connect you with local resources
  • Instant messaging with trained professionals is available through the following online resource

Healthcare Updates

All health insurance providers are required to cover all telehealth services.

Masshealth will cover testing and treatment for COVID-19 & will cover early refills and 90 supplies of medication during state of emergency.

  • Coverage will be extended until one month after the state of emergency ends for all plans that expire during the time of the outbreak
MA Health Connector

Loss of employment & income can affect eligibility, enrollment, and affordability of health insurance plans. The Massachusetts Health Connector is available for individuals and families to reevaluate their health insurance coverage, compare plans, and determine eligibility for subsidies. Resources are available in english here, and in spanish here.

The special enrollment period (SEP) for individuals who do not currently have coverage or who have experienced changes in coverage is now open until May 25th.

  • Typically a qualifying life event is needed to allow individuals to enroll in coverage outside of the open enrollment period in the Fall
  • For more information on the SEP, please visit the health connector website

If you are currently enrolled in the health connector, make sure you update your profile with any changes to employment, income, hours, etc. to ensure you receive all applicable subsidies and premium reductions.

  • Account updates can be made online, here

The Health Connector has paused terminations or reductions in subsidies due to non-response for documents from members and is taking steps to prevent terminations and suspensions of health insurance coverage.

For more information please call the customer service center at 1-877-MA-ENROLL (1-877-623-6765).

RMV Updates

The RMV is providing appointment only time-slots in the 8 service centers that remain open, including the Pittsfield RMV.

  • Appointment reservation times will be available on a rolling basis up to two business days in advance on www.Mass.Gov/RMV in the myRMV Online Service Center under “Make or Cancel a Reservation.”

Real-IDs and Non-commercial Learner's Permits will no longer be issued until May 4th. Commercial Drivers License (CDL) Medical Certificates that have or will expire on or before March 1, 2020 will be extended by 60 days. 

All passenger plates expire in March or April have been extended for 60 days. Registrations that expired in March have been extended until May 31 registrations that expire in April have been extended until June 30

  • Registration renewals can be performed online at Mass.gov/RMV

Please visit the website for more information on RMV service suspensions and offerings.

AAA locations continue to offer select RMV services to members. Please see the AAA section of the mass.gov website for further information.

Courts

Massachusetts state courthouses will only address emergency matters that cannot be resolved through videoconference or telephonic hearing due to impracticality or inconsistency with protecting constitutional rights.

  • Effective March 18, 2020 until at least April 6, 2020

In emergency in-person hearings, entry into a courthouse shall be limited to:

  • Attorneys
  • Parties
  • Witnesses
  • Other necessary persons as determined by the trial judge
  • No more than three members of the "news media"

All trials, whether jury or bench, in both criminal and civil cases, scheduled to begin in Massachusetts state courts between March 18, 2020 and April 17, 2020, are delayed until April 21, 2020 or later,

  • Exception: bench trial in a civil matter and may be conducted otherwise than in-person by agreement of the parties and of the court
  • Statutes of limitation are extended via this order as well
Unemployment Claims Update

Click here for UI updates.

Small Businesses

Click here for Small Business Resources.

Legislative Response

Click here for information on legislation Rep. Farley-Bouvier has co-sponsored in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Questions or Concerns?

Have questions regarding CoVID-19 precautionary measures, transmision, and outbreak related questions?

Contact the Massachusetts Department of Public Health Epidemiology help line. This line is staffed with a certified epidemiologist, open normal business hours.

  • (617) 983-6800

Contact Berkshire Medical Center’s COVID-19 information hotline, open 7 days a week from 7am-7pm.

  • (855) 262-5465

Contact the 2-1-1 line for 24/7 resources and the latest information on COVID-19 from the Massachusetts Department of Public Health

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