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A message from City of Boston Disability Commissioner Kristen McCosh on COVID-19

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Disabilities Commission

Read a message from the commissioner about the recent developments around coronavirus (COVID-19).

Dear Disability Community Members,

I hope you are all doing well under these unprecedented circumstances. I know there is a lot of uncertainty in our community at this time, so I wanted to take this opportunity to reassure you that the Boston Disability Commission is working closely with City officials to address the needs of people with disabilities, and we will continue to do so throughout the course of this pandemic.

I am also writing to give you the latest information on COVID-19, as well as to provide you with resources and information if you are in need of support. Additionally, I have an update on some temporary operational changes in our office.

City of Boston 

On Sunday, March 15, Mayor Walsh declared a public health emergency in the City of Boston due to the Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19). Most public activities are now closed for the time being, including: schools, restaurants & bars (except for take-out), libraries, BCYF Community Centers, and construction sites. An important thing to know is that grocery stores and pharmacies will remain open. 

Disability Commission Office

Our office in City Hall (Room 967) will remain open Monday through Friday, from 9 am to 5 pm, with a reduced staff. We encourage members of the public to call us at 617-635-3682 or email us at disability@boston.gov rather than coming into the office, as the majority of our staff will be working remotely. This will protect your health as well as the health of City employees.

We will continue to accept applications for Accessible Parking Spaces (APS); however, we ask that you bear with us as it may take longer for determinations to be made and APS signs to be installed. In order to reduce the number of in-person visits to our office, we ask that APS applications be mailed, faxed (617-635-2726), or emailed to our office at disability@boston.gov  All renewal applications for existing spaces will be put on hold for 30 days, so if your space is due for renewal you do not need to get medical documentation from your doctor at this time.

Public Health Information

People in the disability community may be at a higher risk of contracting the coronavirus due to underlying medical complications. I encourage you to educate yourself about the latest guidance from the CDC, and to take everyday precautions. For the latest guidance, please see the CDC website. The latest statewide information is also available online at Mass.gov or by calling 211.

The most up to date information about City of Boston safety restrictions, school information, and local resources is the Boston Coronavirus webpage. You may also call the City of Boston constituent services hotline at 311 or 617-635-4500 for information.

Residents are asked to not call 9-1-1 unless you are experiencing a medical emergency. Also - do not go to a hospital or emergency room to get tested for COVID-19. For health information or for testing regarding COVID-19, please call your primary care provider first.

Disability Community Resources

For those of you who use PCAs, the “DPH Covid-19 Guide and Recommendations for In-Home Caregivers” is now posted on the PCA Council’s main organizational page. There is a section titled “2019 Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) Updates for Consumers and PCAs.”  Additional upd+ates and guides will be posted as they become available to keep consumers and PCA workers informed.

Many non-profits and Independent Living Centers have reduced their office hours or have temporarily closed - but all should have a working phone line to reach staff who are working remotely.

With Boston Public Schools closed to students starting on Tuesday, March 17, the City will continue to provide free breakfast and lunch meals to all Boston students. A map of locations can be found here: City of Boston Meal Site Map 

The Boston Artist Relief Fund will award grants of $500 and $1000 to individual artists who live in Boston whose creative practices and incomes are being adversely impacted by Coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19). For more information please see the Arts and Culture website: Artist Relief Fund. If you live outside of Massachusetts, specific local restrictions may vary. Please check for information released by the State and your local officials.

Moving Forward 

The best advice we can give is to take the risks seriously and take care.We can all help to minimize the risk of spreading the virus by practicing social distancing, good hygiene, and by staying informed of and following the latest guidance as the situation changes. Please do not hesitate to contact our office if you have more questions. In the meantime, take care of yourselves and each other. We will get through this together.

Sincerely,