COVID-19 Information | PA 211 Northeastern, powered by HelpLine at Family Service Association of NEPA

COVID-19 Information

COVID-19 a novel Coronavirus

A novel coronavirus is a new coronavirus that has not been previously identified. The virus causing coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), is not the same as the coronaviruses that commonly circulate among humans and cause mild illness, like the common cold. COVID-19 is a new disease and there is more to learn about how it spreads, the severity of illness it causes, and to what extent it may spread in the United States.

Fluid Situation

We will try to keep this page updated, but facts about COVID-19 are constantly evolving and information about services is changing by the day, sometimes by the hour.  If you need a service it is probably best to call them first before showing up at the office.

How does COVID-19 spread?

Person-to-person spread

The virus is thought to spread mainly from person-to-person.

      • Between people who are in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet).
      • Through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes.
      • These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs.

Spread from contact with infected surfaces or objects

It may be possible that a person can get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes, but this is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads.

Prevention & Treatment

There is currently no vaccine to prevent COVID-19.

The Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC)  always recommends everyday preventive actions to help prevent the spread of respiratory diseases, including:

      • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
      • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
      • Stay home when you are sick.
      • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
      • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.
      • Follow CDC’s recommendations for using a facemask.
        • CDC does not recommend that people who are well wear a facemask to
          protect themselves from respiratory diseases, including COVID-19.
        • Facemasks should be used by people who show symptoms of COVID-19 to help prevent the spread of the disease to  others. The use of facemasks is also crucial for health workers and people who are taking care of someone in close settings (at home or in a health care facility).
      • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
        • If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. Always wash hands with soap and water if hands are visibly dirty.

For information about handwashing, see CDC’s Handwashing website.

The following organizations should be your go to source for the latest news and information on COVID-19;

World Health Organization

Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC)

PA State Health Department

Is there someone I can talk to about COVID-19?

If you feel that you need to contact someone directly about COVID-19, you can contact the PA Department of Health at 877-PA Health or 877-724-3258. Medical personnel are available to provide answers to your questions.

How do I get tested?

Please check out this link for testing. The PA Department of Health is doing testing in PA, check out the testing link to see if you should them or your doctor about testing.

Use of Masks

The following is the recommendations from the CDC as of April 3, 2020 for the use of masks;

Wear a facemask if you are sick

  • If you are sick: You should wear a facemask when you are around other people (e.g., sharing a room or vehicle) and before you enter a healthcare provider’s office. If you are not able to wear a facemask (for example, because it causes trouble breathing), then you should do your best to cover your coughs and sneezes, and people who are caring for you should wear a facemask if they enter your room. Learn what to do if you are sick.
  • We now know from recent studies that a significant portion of individuals with coronavirus lack symptoms (“asymptomatic”) and that even those who eventually develop symptoms (“pre-symptomatic”) can transmit the virus to others before showing symptoms.  This means that the virus can spread between people interacting in close proximity—for example, speaking, coughing, or sneezing—even if those people are not exhibiting symptoms.  In light of this new evidence, CDC recommends wearing cloth face coverings in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain (e.g., grocery stores and pharmacies) especially in areas of significant community-based transmission.
  • To see how to make your own mask here are two videos;
  • The US Surgeon General or these You Tube videos, video fold a homemade mask or sew you own mask.
  • Here is a good video explaining what a mask can due during this crisis.

What is a State of Emergency?

The President/Governor/Elected Official declares a State of Emergency when he/she believes a disaster has occurred or may be imminent that is severe enough to require Federal/State/Local aid to supplement local resources in preventing or alleviating damages, loss, hardship or suffering. This declaration authorizes the President/Governor/Elected Official to speed Federal/State/Local agency assistance to communities in need. It enables him/her to make resources immediately available to rescue, evacuate, shelter, provide essential commodities (i.e., heating fuel, food etc.) and quell disturbances in affected localities.It may also position the State/Local Governments to seek federal assistance when the scope of the event exceeds the State/Local resources.

A State of Emergency declaration empowers the country, state or municipality to act on behalf of the governing body to employ the resources and assets of federal, state, local and private agencies to provide immediate assistance to localities. Typically, this may include National Guard, and departments of Environmental Protection, Transportation and Health are called upon rather quickly to respond to the event, and other departments are added as needed.  This is a way for governments to free up funding and apply for relief to meet the needs of the community.


Most government offices have some type of restrictions on how they are now doing business.  Many are closed to the public only doing business over the phone or internet.  Please call the office before you go in person to see how they are doing business.
All county assistance offices (CAOs) statewide are closed to the public beginning Tuesday, March 17.  Applications for benefits and renewals can be submitted online at For Medicaid, contact the Pennsylvania Consumer Service Center at 1-866-550-4355 to apply over the phone


Many business are closed or they have altered the way they conduct business.  It is suggested you call them to see if they are open or if they have service restrictions.


Many Libraries in the region are closed for a period of time at least till the end of the month..  Please call your library to see if they are open.

VITA Tax Program

United Way of Lackawanna and Wayne Counties, current and future VITA tax sessions have been canceled; APPRISE individual counseling has been suspended; TIPS & ROAM programs and Older Adult Isolation Planning meetings have been suspended until further notice.

United Way’s Regional Links to COVID-19 Resources in their area.

Pocono Mountains United Way
United Way of Lackawanna and Wayne Counties
United Way of Susquehanna County
Wyoming County United Way
United Way of Columbia & Montour Counties

Greater Susquehanna Valley United Way

 For Specific Resources to meet your needs,

call 211 or text your zip code to 898211