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.

Phase 3 of Reopening Massachusetts

As of July 6, 2020, we have entered Step 1 of Phase 3 of reopening.  For more information on the details of current restrictions, visit the Governor’s website on Reopening Massachusetts.

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

Although full regulations have not been released yet, the following have been posted on the reopening website:

  • Screen all staff and children, including health checks, before allowing into the facility
  • One place of entrance into facility
  • Staggered drop off to limit non-essential adults in facilities
  • Redesigning daily activities to avoid close contact between children and encourage social distancing whenever possible

All providers must submit an attestation to DEEC to assure they have adequate health and safety measure in place to protect children and staff.

Emergency child care will remain in place during the transition back to the “new normal”.  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

For more information on Childcare in Phase 3 of reopening, visit the Governor's website.

Public Schools Update

To support parents and educators, WGBH has created an Early Learning Resources page to support children while learning from home

The Pittsfield Public Schools will continue to provide 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

Service Centers that are currently open to the public now have expanded hours and will now be open from 8am to 8pm.

  • As a reminder, RMV locations are only open for appointments only.

Permit Tests

  • Exams are now available online in English, Spanish, Portuguese, and Mandarin (Simplified)
  • Applicants must first appear in person at the service center to receive necessary approval then they have 60 days to take the exam online
    • Appointments can be made, here
    • If the applicant passes, they will print their permit (no permit will be mailed).
    • If the applicant fails, they may pay $30 to retake the exam.
  • Priority will be given to individuals turning 16 between March and June 2020

Road Tests

  • As of 6/15/20, the RMV has resumed public road tests with priority given to individuals with a road test that was scheduled in March, April, and May but was cancelled due to COVID-19
  • New road test appointments will not be available until all those who have had their road test postponed are rescheduled

Additional information

  • Teenagers who turned 16 between March 1 and June 30, 2020 may apply for a “Supervised Driving Receipt” (SDR) prior to their in-person appointment for a Learner’s Permit at the RMV
    • SDRs are valid for 90 days and will only be issued through 8/12/20
  • The deadline for REAL ID compliance has been extended until October 1, 2021, but many individuals must renew their license prior to this new deadline. Due to the RMV not accepting REAL ID appointments,  a fee waiver is available to allow you to renew your standard MA driver’s license and then upgrade to a REAL ID at no additional cost in 2021.
    • Applies to individuals who renew their standard license or ID between June 12th and August 12th, 2020

For more information on the RMV’s changes in response to COVID-19, please visit the RMV website.

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

Courts

In accordance with SJC guidance, Massachusetts State Courthouses physically reopened on a limited basis as of July 13th, but will continue to conduct most business virtually. In-person proceedings will further expand as of August 10. For information and news on Massachusetts state court response to the pandemic, please see the Court system response to COVID-19.

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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