Friday, March 27, 2020
Resources & Information for Clients
An update from Massachusetts Advocates for Children, with information on what the state is required to provide for students with disabilities. Visit MAC’s website for additional COVD-19-related resources.
From our friends at the National Consumer Law Center: “The Massachusetts Attorney General has issued emergency regulations regarding debt collection (see attached). One provision applies to creditors and debt collectors and the other provision only to debt collectors’ telephone calls. Both provisions apply for 90 days or when the state or emergency expires, whichever comes first.
The provision applicable to creditors and collectors provides that it is unfair or deceptive for any creditor or debt collector to threaten or act upon: a new collection lawsuit; garnishment, seizure, or attachment of the debtor’s wages or property; a motor vehicle repossession; a capias warrant; a visit to the consumer’s household or place of employment; or communicate in person with the consumer. Exceptions are made for mortgage loans, rent, and utilities.
The provision applicable to debt collector phone calls declares it unfair and deceptive for a debt collector to initiate a telephone communication, either live or recorded, to the debtor’s residence, cellular telephone, or other telephone number provided by the debtor. Exceptions are made for communications initiated by the debtor, for informing the debtor of a rescheduled court hearing, or for debts involving mortgage loans or rent payments.”
Widespread computer glitches foil residents filing for unemployment benefits – Boston Globe, March 26
- Disturbing rise in infections among Boston hospital workers as over 100 test positive – Boston Globe, March 26 Many appear to be due to community spread, as opposed to contact with infected patients.
- In new poll, 16% of Mass. residents report losing their jobs since pandemic – Boston Business Journal, March 25
- No-rent resolution during coronavirus crisis blocked at Boston City Council – Boston Herald, March 25
- U.S. Retailers Plan to Stop Paying Rent to Offset Virus – Bloomberg News, March 24
- Mayor: Convention center could be turned into a temporary coronavirus center; city distributes first grants from new resiliency fund – Universal Hub, March 25
- Target Subsidiary To Pay Over $2 Million In Class Action Lawsuit Filed By Massachusetts Woman – CBS Boston, March 25
- Marijuana businesses are ineligible for coronavirus disaster relief, federal agency confirms – Boston Globe, March 25
Public Health New & Perspectives
- Juliette Kayyem: We’re In ‘Response Phase’ Of Coronavirus Crisis – WGBH, March 25
- Social networks want you to stay home — and to tell your friends to do the same – Washington Post, March 25
- How Iceland tested the most people for COVID-19 per-capita in the world – MSN, March 26 Early reports—based on aggressive testing that started in early February—suggest that many who contract the virus do not have symptoms.
- From the New York Times: A single person with the flu can result in the infections of 386 other people over two months, and a handful would be hospitalized. In that same period, a single asymptomatic COVID-19 patient could lead to the infections of 99,000 people — of whom nearly 20,000 might need to be hospitalized.
- China bars most foreigners to curb imported virus cases – Associated Press, March 26
- With Their Restaurants Closed, Chefs Turn to Instagram Live to Inspire Home Cooks (Eater)
- Food Supply Anxiety Brings Back Victory Gardens (NY Times)
- From Destini: Virtual ‘Love Sweet Love’ From Quarantined Berklee College of Music Students (NPR) and a Hogwarts-themed Digital Escape Room
- Virtual Boston Experiences
Thursday, March 26, 2020
Resources & Information for Clients
The Social Security Administration has issued updated information and guidelines (see attached document) about accessing help by phone and online.
In case you missed Destini’s email yesterday, here is the Supreme Judicial Court’s order relating to electronic signatures, effective today.
Massachusetts is under pressure to extend its tax filing deadline, which remains April 15, despite the IRS deferring federal tax filing to July 15. The Globe Editorial Board is urging the state to follow the feds—as many other states have—and the Massachusetts Society of CPAs recently launched a letter-writing campaign to push for the extension.
The Washington Post has a calculator for individuals and families to calculate the amount of the economic stimulus provided by the soon-to-be-passed bill
- A staggering 3.28 million people filed for unemployment amid coronavirus pandemic – Boston Globe, March 26
- Baker Signs New Order Extending Mass. School Closure Through End Of April – WBUR, March 25
- Gov. Baker bans reusable bags at grocery stores, lifts local plastic bag bans – Boston Business Journal, March 25
- Amid coronavirus, a surge in calls to Massachusetts suicide prevention hotline – Boston Globe, March 24
- Most Brown and Black Americans Are Exposing Themselves to Coronavirus for a Paycheck – Vice News, March 23
- Food banks are seeing volunteers and supplies disappear amid coronavirus – Washington Post, March 16
Public Health News & Information
- To win the long game against coronavirus, scientists race to roll out a different kind of test – Quartz, March 25. Immunity testing to help determine who can safely return to normal living
- Now that the coronavirus is everywhere, what can you do to avoid severe illness? – Boston Globe, March 25
- Social distancing scoreboard reveals Massachusetts is one of the top states following the practice amid coronavirus pandemic – MassLive, March 25
- Police and governments may increasingly adopt surveillance technologies in response to coronavirus fears – The Conversation, March 23
- This is not a political endorsement, but worth mentioning: New York Governor Andrew Cuomo provides daily briefings around 11 am that are a great example of effective crisis communications and which provide very good information about the nature and scope of the pandemic. He also talks a lot about mental health and the importance of love and human connection. It is not your average press conference. Stay tuned to his Twitter account or the state website for live broadcasts.
Zoom and other online meeting software can track your attention during a video call and rat on you if you zone out. The good news? There are ways to make it seem like you’re paying closer attention than you really are.
Good News & Interesting Information
- The ozone layer is healing and redirecting wind flows around the globe
- For those looking for something British, learn more about the Shipping Forecast, or just listen to the very soothing Shipping Forecast theme, Sailing By, here.
- What is a skeuomorph? You encounter them every day.
Wednesday, March 25, 2020
Resources & Information for Clients
TAFDC and EAEDC applications can now be submitted online: As of today, cash assistance applications can be filed online at DTAConnect.com (click the blue “apply” banner). Just like with SNAP, a case manager will need to speak with the client after the application is filed. Please encourage families with children and very low or no income, or adults 65+ or disabled who don’t have income and have very low assets, to apply for cash assistance benefits. The Mass Law Reform Institute is sharing the most up-to-date information we have about DTA COVID-19 policy and procedures on this google doc. Report issues clients are having accessing DTA benefits by filling out this google form.
Message from WIC: ALL WIC Programs are able to provide all services by phone. WIC participants can contact their local WIC office with any questions. Please refer to Mass.gov/wic or facebook.com/MassWIC for ongoing updated information.
SNAP and Low-Income College Students: For the most up to date information we have on SNAP for college students, see MassLegalServices.org/food4students
MassHealth COVID-related updates can be found here.
Massachusetts Department of Unemployment Assistance (DUA) to Host Three Virtual Town Halls this week.
From Greater Boston Legal Services: Please ask your state legislators to co-sponsor HD 4951, Act to Provide Short Term Relief to Families in Deep Poverty, filed by Rep. Marjorie Decker and Sen. Sal DiDomenico. Click here to send them an e-mail. HD 4951 would provide an immediate one-time supplemental cash assistance to Massachusetts’ 30,000 families with children who receive TAFDC benefits and 19,000 elders and persons with disabilities who receive EAEDC benefits. Deadline for legislators to sign on to co-sponsor is today, 3/25, at 5 PM.
- Charlie Baker bans utility shutoffs during COVID-19 crisis – Boston Herald, March 23
- Virus Stokes Discrimination Concerns From Disability Groups – Bloomberg Law, March 23
- Massachusetts’ coronavirus stay-at-home advisory: What happens if you don’t comply? – MassLive, March 23
- Tax deadline shift could deepen state revenue crunch – Lowell Sun, March 25
- Massachusetts grocery store chains installing plexiglass barriers at checkout lanes in attempt to limit coronavirus spread – WCVB, March 24
- Families struggle with ‘no visits’ edict at senior homes – Boston Globe, March 23
- Baker’s proposed bill could lead to some local tax extensions, standardized testing changes, take-out beer and wine – MassLive, March 24
- Audubon, Trustees of Reservations close all trails due to virus – Patriot Ledger, March 23
- McGovern cautions against remote voting, suggests other options amid coronavirus outbreak – The Hill, March
- Coronavirus concerns causes state legislature to delay special senate election in Western Mass, three others – MassLive, March 23
- Comptroller’s role in fight: Keep funds flowing remotely – WWLP, March 23
Public Health Information
- 6 things to know if you’re living with someone who has coronavirus, or think you might be – USA Today, March 24
Potentially Useful and/or Entertaining
- Quartz is hosting a virtual workshop on March 26th, at 1-2pm EDT, for parents and caretakers navigating the change to work from home alongside extremely full-time childcare responsibilities.
- The National Cowboy Museum Turned Over its Twitter Account to Its Head of Security
- More free reading, contemporary and classics: The SimplyE Collection is a selection of classics and modern material available to anyone, no library card necessary.
- From the New York Public Library: The Librarian is In. This podcast about books, culture, and what to read next is a worthy addition to your podcast list.