March 2020 | Issue 14
The month of March has not been business as usual for the City of Providence, the State of Rhode Island, or most of the United States. The spread of the COVID-19 Virus has interrupted daily life as we know it. We are in uncharted territory and the uncertainty of this issue is, understandably so, causing a lot of fear and anxiety among Rhode Islanders.

As dedicated public servants to the residents of The City of Providence, the Providence City Council has been working diligently throughout the past weeks to ensure that our constituents have access to the resources they need at this unsettling time. Rhode Islanders can rest assured that local and state governments are doing everything they can to ensure your health and safety.

This month's newsletter will be sharing all of the resources that have been gathered and created by the City Council and our staff along with other state and local offices. This information is also accessible our COVID-19 Resources page on our website, which is updated in real time.

This situation changes every day and the stresses of social distancing, work and travel restrictions and fear of a widespread outbreak can certainly be overwhelming. However, we must remember that we are all in this together. If everyone does their part to stay safe and keep healthy, we will be able to get through this in a timely and reasonable manner.

As always, the office of the Providence City Council is ready to help you with your needs, whether they are related to COVID-19 or any other concerns you have about your neighborhoods. Our staff is still working on behalf of constituents every day to ensure that our City of Neighborhoods is served and maintained through this trying time.

Visit our website for resources, news, and information about your Councilor:

Or call our office at: 401-521-7477
Meet Your City Councilor
Providence is separated into 15 distinct Wards, comprising 21 unique neighborhoods, each a diverse and dynamic community. We believe that access to your Councilor is paramount.

By clicking on the link below you will be able to learn more about your Councilor, and have the opportunity to send them an email to share your thoughts or concerns.

Don't forget to participate in the 2020 Census! Fill it out here .
Continue reading for health resources, student and senior resources, employee and business resources, information on how you can help and more.
Health Resources
The first and foremost concern for all Rhode Islanders right now should be to remain healthy and to ensure that their family and loved ones remain healthy too. This is the best way that we can stop the spread of the COVID-19 virus. Below are some health resources as well as tips for remaining healthy.

  1. If you are in quarantine the state has set up a program for food service, you can go to or call 211 to access this service.
  2. For the most accurate, up to date information, visit the Rhode Island Department of Health COVID-19 page or the City Council's COVID-19 Resource Guide. Or watch Governor Raimondo's daily press briefing every day at 1:00 pm.
  3. If you do not have insurance Health Source RI has opened an emergency enrollment period until April 15, and if you have been laid off for any reason you have 60 days to apply for health insurance: Health Source RI
  4. For more information on what you should do if you feel that you may have contracted COVID-19, or come into contact with someone that could potentially have COVID-19 please visit the Rhode Island Health Department’s website or by calling the COVID-19 hotline at 401-222-8022.
  5. In order to be tested for COVID-19, you must make an appointment either through your private healthcare provider, an urgent care provider or through the Department of Health Hotline
  6. COVID-19 testing is free for Rhode Islanders, with no co-pay or out of pocket expenses.
  7. If you are sick at all – headache, runny nose, cough, fever or other symptoms you must stay home from work.
  8. During this stressful and scary time, maintaining your mental health is just as important as your physical health. If you are struggling with mental or behavior health, or substance abuse at this time, visit the Rhode Island Department of Behavioral Health Website, for immediate assistance, call 401-414-LINK. For information on maintaining your mental health during quarantine or social isolation, check out this informational pamphlet from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.
How to Help Stop the Spread of COVID-19
  1. Wash your hands, and here’s why: The Science Behind HandWashing in COVID-19
  2. Stay inside as much as possible.
  3. Do not congregate in groups.
  4. Do not go to malls or areas where large numbers of people may be – like bars or restaurants.
  5. Do go for a walk or a run – it just means that you need to keep your distance from other people. Otherwise seemingly healthy people can be a carrier for COVID-19 and have no symptoms, but it can quickly spread – especially to individuals over the age of 60 or to those who have compromised immune systems or other underlying health concerns. So please be mindful.
  6. Practice Social Distancing: Social Distancing is the practice of keeping a distance of roughly 4 to 6 feet between you and other people – even your loved ones. It means no close personal contact like hugging or handshaking. Say hello or nod your head when greeting a friend or neighbor.
  7. Remember to practice safe hygiene by washing your hands, coughing and sneezing into your elbows, using hand sanitizer, and staying indoors and at home if feeling sick.
Resources for Seniors
  1. Providence has several meal sites dedicated to serving older adults throughout the city. Please contact each site directly as information may change daily: Senior Meal Sites
  2. Grocery stores throughout Rhode Island are providing dedicated shopping hours to promote the safety and wellness of older adults: Dedicated Senior Shopping Hours
  3. With the recent stay-at-home orders issued across the states to further contain the spread of COVID 19, SeniorLiving.Org has compiled information on how to help seniors with communication, grocery delivery, home care and, health monitoring. This guide, Social Distancing: Apps for Seniors, provides practical apps for seniors (tech-savvy or not), along with setup assistance.
Resources for Students
  1. Providence City Schools have begun distance learning and education will be virtual until the end of April, and the Governor will reassess the need to go longer at a later date.
  2. The Providence Public School Department has launched a distance learning hotline for students and families who are having trouble getting through the phone lines at schools. The number is 401-456-0686 and is being managed by the Office of Family and Community Engagement. They have added about a dozen lines and have deployed more staff to manage the calls.
  3. The Highlander Institute in cooperation with the Rhode Island Department of Education has also implemented a Distance Learning Resource Hotline you can submit your questions via the internet and their group of volunteers will contact you with the support you need: Online Request Form
  4. Parents will be contacted by members of the Providence School Department to assess their needs and check-in on the students and the remote learning process.
  5. Commissioner Infante-Green and Superintendent Peters have shared information regarding distance learning. Watch this informative video here: Distance Learning with Commissioner Infante-Green and Superintendent Peters
  6. Providence City Schools will be undergoing a deep cleaning and disinfection of all schools and administrative buildings per CDC Guidelines.
  7. Providence Community Libraries and the Providence Public Library and all associated programming have been closed/canceled until further notice.
Resources for Students in Need of Food
Updated: Grab & Go Meals at School Locations Beginning April 7, 2020
Will be Available Only on Tuesdays & Thursdays
  1. There are 13 sites across the city where all children, ages 18 and younger, regardless of where they attend school, can access several days worth of “Grab & Go” meals (lunch and breakfast). The locations will be open from 11:00 am until 2:00 pm (for school students their lunch break is from 11:00 am to 1:00 PM) Tuesdays and Thursdays during the duration of the closure: Meal Distribution Locations
  2. In addition to the meals being provided at the schools, the City of Providence is offering free, packaged dinner meals at each of Providence’s eleven recreation centers. Meals can be picked up between 4:00 PM and 6:00 PM weekdays by residents 18 and under but they must be personally present at the distribution site. No ID is required: Meal Distribution Locations
Resources for Lost Wages and Employee Rights
As many local businesses and employers are forced to close down, many Rhode Islanders are struggling to make ends meet. The City of Providence and the State of Rhode Island are here for anyone who is facing a loss of income throughout this pandemic. Below are resources for working people facing unexpected financial stress during this time.
Here is a great resource of what you may or may not qualify for, and how to apply as published by  WPRI News .
  1. If you have lost work or have to stay home because of COVID-19, the state may be able to help: Workplace Aid 
  2. If you are quarantined with COVID-19 you can apply for Temporary Disability Insurance (TDI): TDI Application
  3. If the place where you work closes or your employer tells you that you must stay home without pay, you may be able to collect Unemployment Insurance: File an Unemployment Claim
  4. Rhode Islanders have a right to paid sick time as passed by the General Assembly in 2018. Use them: Paid Sick Leave Fact Sheet
  5. Are you a member of the RI AFL-CIO? Here’s a comprehensive guide of resources if you are out of work and other benefits: AFL-CIO
Resources for Small Businesses
This is undoubtedly a difficult time for small business owners as businesses are forced to close their doors or attempt to transition to online services. Below are resources for Rhode Island businesses for financial and managerial assistance.
  1. The SBA Disaster Loan Assistance has been approved by the Small Business Administration, please note due to high volume the website has had a tendency to move slow or crash: Application
  2. The state is launching a short-term bridge loan program for businesses with 10 or fewer employees. The loan fund is seeded with $2M, and you are able to apply for the loan after you have filled out the SBA Disaster Assistance Loan Application. Contact the CommerceRI by calling (401) 521-HELP.
  3. If you are a business owner you have likely heard about the Small Business Paycheck Protection Program. Here you will find an overview of the program, a fact sheet about the program, and the application of the program provided to the City Council by Bank Newport. They will be able to answer any questions you may have.
  4. The City of Providence has made adjustments to the Providence Business Loan Fund (PBLF) allowing businesses to borrow as little as $10K with closing costs capped at $500, with zero interest for up to 12 months, and deferred loan payments for 6-12 months. To further address the current disruption to the business community, PBLF is suspending the accrual of interest and fees on the loans to all current borrowers in April. Businesses interested in learning more about PBLF—including eligibility requirements—should visit, or contact PBLF Director Tom Hoagland by calling 401-680-8412.
  5. The City also announced the deployment of an online survey, administered by the Office of Economic Opportunity (OEO), to assess the impact COVID-19 has had on local businesses. The survey can be taken online until April 30. While the survey is anonymous, results will be shared with city agencies and local partners to further guide the city’s economic response.
  6. Governor Raimondo announced that the Superior Courts have set up a special site for businesses that might need help to avoid bankruptcy and other issues due to the COVID-19 crisis. If you are a business in need, please visit the Superior Courts Business Recovery Plan page.
  7. If you own a small business and need assistance because of COVID-19, the RI Commerce Corporation asks that you call: The Small Business Hotline (401) 521-HELP during normal business hours or via e-mail at [email protected] any time. They can help by guiding you through the claims process.
  8. If you are having issues with the Disaster Loan Assistance application, or have been issued a denial please call 401-521-HELP.
  9. If you have lost business because of COVID-19, we ask that you fill out the Estimated Disaster Economic Injury Worksheet shared by the US Small Business Administration. By doing this, it may help Rhode Island get federal aid in support of our small businesses who have suffered adversely due to the ramifications of COVID-19.
  10. Commerce RI, with support from volunteers from the Tech Community, will provide free tech support and advice on moving their businesses to remote working, if you need assistance call 401-521-HELP.
Resources Around Utilities, Social, and State Services
  1. If you find yourself experiencing homelessness or know someone who is - here is a great resource: RI Coalition for the Homeless
  2. The State is increasing SNAP benefits for nearly half of recipients, and you will this increase in your April 1, 2020 EBT Card deposit.
  3. The City is also working with utility companies to ensure that if someone is unable to pay their bill due to lack of income, that their services will not be interrupted. As of now National Grid and Providence Water have shared that they will ensure continued service for all residents regardless of their ability to pay. As we know more about these programs or other utilities coming online we will update this page.
  4. Cox Cable is now offering free internet for two months during this duration. Please note that this is only for two months, and then will become a billed service at $10/month. They have also agreed to not charge late fees, or suspend service for the next 60-days for residential customers. In addition, Cox is setting up “hotspots” around the City to provide free wifi. You can enter your zip code here and it will provide you with a list of locations in your neighborhood: WIFI Hotspots
  5. Verizon will waive late fees over the next 60 days that any residential or small business customers incur because of their economic circumstances related to the coronavirus. In addition, Verizon will not terminate service to any residential or small business customers because of their inability to pay their bills due to disruptions caused by the coronavirus.
  6. Residential trash and recycling pick-ups are considered essential services and will continue as scheduled.
  7. Department of Labor and Training (DLT), and HealthSource RI will be moving to online and telephone-only services until further notice. This includes all new applications, renewals, or changes in benefits. Individuals who need to drop off paper applications will be able to do so without speaking with a customer service representative.
  8. The Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) announced that licensing road tests will be canceled until further notice. In addition, all DMV satellite offices will be closed. (Closures of the satellite locations in Westerly and Warren has previously been announced).
  9. The Cranston DMV will only be providing the following limited services: dealer appointments, adjudications, and commercial drivers licenses. Rhode Islanders are encouraged not to go to the DMV unless absolutely necessary. The DMV is only taking clients for all services by appointment only. Please check the DMV website to confirm an appointment before visiting the DMV.
Many City services are still available and many offices are functioning remotely during this time. For a detailed guide of City services that remain active and how to access them, visit our COVID-19 Resources Page
The following City Services and Offices or Buildings Will be Closed or Suspended Until Further Notice
  1. Providence City Hall and all other municipal buildings
  2. Providence Public Schools and Buildings
  3. netWORKri Career Center
  4. All Recreation Centers
  5. The Botanical Center
  6. Museum of Natural History
  7. BankNewport City Center and Providence Rink
  8. Providence Housing Court
  9. Providence Probate Court
  10. Special Event permit issuance
  11. Entertainment license issuance
  12. Board of Canvassers; residents looking to register to vote can do so online.
  13. All public programming from Parks, Recreation, and Art, Culture + Tourism
Executive Orders, Restrictions and Travel Guidelines
As the COVID-19 Virus spreads, things change every day. It can be hard to keep up with all of the news and changing regulations that are dictating our daily lives. Below is a list of all of the executive orders and restrictions that the Governor has made, ordered by date of expiration. This information is updated as of March 31. For more detailed information on each of these order's visit Governor Raimondo's executive order page.
Until April 4th
  • All childcare licenses are suspended. This means that all childcare facilities must close until April 4th
Until April 13th
  • All gatherings of 5 or more people are prohibited.
  • All people who are able, are required to work from home.
  • Restaurants, bars and cafes will be closed for dine-in service. Takeout services of food, beer and wine will still be allowed.
  • Public recreation and entertainment businesses as well as close-contact businesses must remain closed.
  • Rhode Islanders must follow the Stay At Home order and remain in their homes except for essential trips or outdoor exercise.
Until April 25th
  • Anyone returning from domestic or international flight must quarantine for 14 days.
  • Anyone traveling to Rhode Island from any other state via any form of transportation (plane, train, bus, car) must quarantine for 14 days.
Until April 30th
  • Distance learning will remain in place and school buildings will be closed.
Until May 8th
  • The Open Meetings Act will remain suspended.
  • All usual health services must be made available to Rhode Islanders via tele-health.
  • The deadline for police departments to process background checks for prospective gun owners is extended from 7 to 30 days.
Until further notice
  • Casinos, the State House and nursing homes are closed to visitors.
  • All state services will remain available online or through reservation only appointments.
Open Meetings Portal
If you want to find information about past, present and future meetings than the open meetings portal is a must. Using the below link you can access meeting minutes, agendas, documents, videos and other useful information at the click of a button.
Providence City Council
©Providence City Council 2020