2-1-1 Top Questions

On March 13, 2020, the Massachusetts Department of Public Health and the Massachusetts Emergency Management Association designated United Way’s 2-1-1 Referral service the official COVID-19 resource and referral line for residents.  In that time, 2-1-1 has received an unprecedented number of calls for help.  We’ve partnered with WCVB-TV Channel 5 to broadcast the most frequently asked questions during their newscasts, and we’re also sharing them below.   

I need to get to the RMV but I heard they are all closed?

8 Registry of Motor Vehicles Service Centers are open:

  • Boston/Haymarket
  • Brockton
  • Fall River
  • Lawrence
  • Pittsfield
  • Plymouth
  • Springfield
  • Worcester

Visit the RMV’s Online Service Center for over 40 transactions that can be completed online and skip the trip to the RMV. 

Where can I get financial help for my small business while we are closed due to Covid-19?

The Mass Growth Capital Corporation’s (MGCC) Small Business Recovery Loan fund stopped accepting applications on 3/19.

The U.S. Small Business Administration’s Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) program is accepting applications from Massachusetts businesses. We encourage all Massachusetts companies to apply: https://disasterloan.sba.gov/ela  

The info on Business Resources is online at: https://www.mass.gov/info-details/covid-19-resources-and-guidance-for-businesses#mgcc-small-business-recovery-loan-fund-

I had contact with someone who might have COVID-19.  What do I do?  

There is information for people who have had close contact with a person confirmed to have, or being evaluated for, COVID-19, here:


How can I determine if my business is an essential business?

The Baker-Polito Administration has issued a list of designated businesses and other organizations that provide essential services and workforces related to COVID-19. This list can be found at  https://www.mass.gov/info-details/covid-19-essential-services .

How do I secure food for my family at this time?

Project Bread’s FoodSource Hotline remains available. They will continue to have the most updated information on SNAP (including any expanded benefits that may become available) and offer screening and application assistance over the phone. They will also connect callers to additional food resources. The FoodSource Hotline will maintain its usual hours, with access to Language Line translators, through this crisis. You can reach the Hotline at 1-800-645-8333 and it is open Monday through Friday from 8:00 am to 7:00 pm and Saturday from 10:00am to 2:00pm. 

How do I access Emergency Child Care Providers?

Governor Baker mandated that Child Care Providers and family child care homes cease operations at the end of the day Sunday, 3/22/2020. All parents should find alternative, non-group care arrangements for their children. The Department of Early Education and Care (EEC) has created a small network of Exempt Emergency Child Care Providers available for drop-in services on an emergency basis to support essential workers and vulnerable families. 

These services will be free to families and should be used only when all other options are exhausted.  EEC has posted names and contact information for these providers on mass.gov/eec and will update it on a regular basis. The Commonwealth will provide funding to help support the operation of these programs.

What can I do to help?

There is an ongoing blood product shortage. The Red Cross is facing a critical shortage of blood products due to cancellations of blood drives across the Commonwealth because of implementation of necessary prevention and mitigation actions during the COVID-19 outbreak. The Governor has deemed “Blood and plasma donors and the employees of the organizations that operate and manage related activities” as an essential service.

Those who are healthy, feeling well and eligible to give blood or platelets are urged to make an appointment to donate as soon as possible by using the Red Cross Blood Donor App, visiting RedCrossBlood.org, or calling 1-800-RED CROSS  (1-800-733-2767). To schedule a new blood drive call  (617) 699-3808.

Questions related to Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT)

  • How do I check my EBT card balance?
    • Check the available balance on your EBT card by:
      • Downloading the DTA Connect Mobile App
      • Calling the automated DTA Assistance Line at (877) 382-2363
      • Calling the EBT Customer Service number (800) 997-2555 (which is also on the back of your EBT card).
  • If DTA offices are closed, how can I get an EBT card?
    • If you are a new applicant, DTA will mail you an EBT card after your interview. If you lost your card, call the DTA Assistance Line at (877) 382-2363 and use the automated system to request a new card, which will be mailed to you.
  • I have an appeal hearing scheduled, but DTA offices are closed. Will I still have it?
    • Yes, you will still have your appeal hearing at the same date and time. All hearings will be conducted over the phone. If you need to reschedule or have any other questions about your appeal, call the Hearings Division at (617) 348-5321.

Will grocery stores still accept SNAP EBT cards during the COVID-19 pandemic?

Yes. Grocery stores will accept SNAP EBT cards if they are approved SNAP retailers. Most retailers have signs stating they accept SNAP or EBT.

What if grocery stores have less food on their shelves when my SNAP benefits are issued?

Retailers are doing their best to keep items in stock. You can check with the store to find out when items will be back in stock.

My family member is quarantined at home. Can I food shop for them with their EBT card?

Any person included in your SNAP case can use your EBT card without telling DTA, as long as they have the PIN. Outside of your household members, only share your EBT card and PIN with a trusted family member or friend. If a family member or friend is going to shop for you regularly, you must give DTA signed, written permission telling them who will be shopping for you. You can submit this through the DTAConnect mobile appby fax, or by mail.

I can’t reach my Primary care provider and I am concerned about my symptoms, what do I do?

Check your symptoms and clarify your options for care. The Buoy A.I. health assistant guides you on your way to well, the moment you feel sick. Learn what to do to protect yourself from this fast-spreading virus. Also, most common symptoms, best ways to treat, and more.

What is the difference between quarantine and isolation?


Quarantine is used to keep someone who might have been exposed to COVID-19 away from others. Someone in self-quarantine stays separated from others, and they limit movement outside of their home or current place. A person may have been exposed to the virus without knowing it (for example, when traveling or out in the community), or they could have the virus without feeling symptoms. Quarantine helps limit further spread of COVID-19.


Isolation is used to separate sick people from healthy people. People who are in isolation should stay home. In the home, anyone sick should separate themselves from others by staying in a specific “sick” bedroom or space and using a different bathroom (if possible).

We miss and worry about our loved one who resides in a nursing home and find it difficult to know how they are doing.

Assisted living and long term care facilities must ban visitors to protect residents and staff health. Families with loved ones in nursing homes can call the Massachusetts Nursing Home Family Resource Line at 617-660-5399 to get information about their family member.

This line will serve as one central contact that family members can reach out to if they have questions or concerns about the care their loved one is receiving during the COVID-19 outbreak. The line is staffed from 9 AM – 5 PM, seven days a week. Staff will coordinate across state agencies to help callers find answers to their questions.