A Resource Guide for Ohioans with Disabilities: How To Stay Healthy and Safe During the Coronavirus
On March 9, 2020, Governor Mike DeWine declared a State of Emergency for Ohio due to the coronavirus (COVID-19). All Ohioans have been asked to practice social distancing. Social distancing means staying away from crowds and groups of people to keep the virus from spreading.
It can be hard to know where to get help with so many changes going on. The Adult Advocacy Centers (AACs) have created this list of resources for people with disabilities and their care providers. Although some companies are included in this resource guide, the AACs are not recommending specific companies. They are only included to provide examples of resources and are not an exhaustive list.
Although the AACs will continually update this document, we cannot guarantee the accuracy of these resources as information is changing daily, if not hourly.
- Medical Care
- Mental Health
- Social Services
- Utility Assistance
- Cable and Internet Services
- Financial Help
- Threat of Eviction
- Homeless Shelters and Service Animals
- Unemployment Benefits
- How to Stay Informed and Busy
- Other Important Information
- Stay at Home Order
SNAP Benefits – On April 1, 2020, Gov. DeWine announced that Ohio will now allow people who receive assistance through the state’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) to use their EBT cards to order groceries online. They can then go to the store and have their order delivered directly to their car as a way to increase social distancing.
Grocery Stores – Most grocery stores in Ohio are open. Starting April 7, Ohio’s stay-at-home order requires stores to limit the number of people who can be in their building at once. Each store has to decide a safe number for themselves. This may mean you will have to wait for a short time before going into the store. Some grocery stores are still experiencing shortages of some items because so many want to buy them at the same time. Canned food, meat, cleaning products and paper products may be difficult to find.
Web-Based Groceries – Companies like Amazon and Thrive are web-based and will ship to your home. There are also several grocery stores, such as Kroger, Walmart, Safeway, Giant Eagle and Costco, that offer home delivery for some locations. Grocery delivery through Instacart and Shipt is also an option for grocery stores that do not directly offer delivery.
Restaurants – On March 15, 2020, Governor Mike DeWine ordered all Ohio bars and restaurants to shut down to slow the spread of the coronavirus. Although Ohio restaurants are closed, many restaurants are offering takeout, pick-up window service, curbside pickup and delivery. Also, many restaurants offer online ordering.
Restaurant Delivery Services – Services like GrubHub, UberEats, Postmates, and DoorDash will deliver restaurant meals to your door, depending on your location. Usually, each take-out or delivery bag is sealed with a tamper-proof label to ensure safety. Also, you may be able to request contact-free delivery. This will allow the delivery driver to leave your order in a safe place, like your porch, so you can keep a safe distance from one another.
Food Banks – Most Ohio food banks are open, but many have changed the way they distribute food. For example, starting March 12, 2020, the Kroger Community Food Pantry in Columbus, Ohio, is only serving pre-packaged boxes to individuals who qualify for their services and they are using a different system to pass out food that limits contact and promotes social distancing.
Doctor Offices – Most doctor offices are open, but many have limited their hours and some doctors are rescheduling routine and follow-up appointments. Please call your doctor’s office before going to your appointment to ensure that your appointment has not been canceled or postponed.
Dental Offices – Most dentist offices in Ohio have closed for a period of three weeks or longer. If you have already scheduled routine dental services, like cleanings, please contact your dentist to see if they are still planning to see you. Call your dentist’s office as soon as possible if you have a dental emergency. They should still be able to help you in an emergency.
Hospitals and Emergency Rooms – Although hospitals are open, they are rescheduling non-essential procedures so they will have beds available if the coronavirus escalates. If you are experiencing an emergency and need medical attention, you may still use the hospital’s emergency department as a resource. If you are not sure if something is an emergency, you can always call your doctor.
Pharmacies – Some large pharmacy chains, such as CVS, offer home delivery. However, this service can depend on the medication, and there may be a fee. Some family-owned and local pharmacies may offer free home delivery of medication. Starting April 7, Ohio’s stay-at-home order requires stores, including pharmacies, to limit the number of people who can be in their building at once. Each store has to decide a safe number for themselves. This may mean you will have to wait for a short time before going into the store.
Mail Order Pharmacies – Mail order pharmacies, such as Express Scripts, mail medications to people’s homes. You also may be able to get a bigger supply of some medicines this way. Please know that some medications may not be eligible for this service.
Drug Manufactures – Some drug manufacturing companies may have programs that include at-home delivery and medication discounts. You can call the company that makes your medicine to ask about these programs.
To cope with anxiety associated with the effects of coronavirus, the Ohio Department of Health recommends eating nutritious food, exercising, getting enough sleep, drinking water, avoiding alcohol and drugs, and trying to relax.
If you need help, reach out. Resources for many kinds of situations are listed below.
- The Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services Client Rights and Advocacy Resources 1-877-275-6364
- Ohio Crisis Text Line, text 4HOPE to 741-741 to be connected to a trained crisis counselor within five minutes. This is a free, confidential service that is available 24/7.
- National Suicide Prevention Hotline 1-800-273-8255 or Text START to 741-741
- National Sexual Violence Hotline (RAINN) 1-800-656-HOPE (4673)
- National Human Trafficking Hotline 1-888-373-7888 or Text 233733
- National Self Injury and Suicide Hotline for LGBTQ+ (Trevor Project) 1-866-488-7386
- National Domestic Violence Hotline 1-800-799-SAFE (7233)
- SAMHSA National Helpline for Substance Abuse 1-800-662-HELP (4357)
- SAMHSA Disaster Distress Hotline 1-800-985-5990 or text TalkWithUs to 66746
- National Alliance on Mental Health (NAMI) Helpline 1-800-950-NAMI (6254)
- Active Minds Helpline Text BRAVE to 741-741
- National Eating Disorder Association Helpline 1-800-931-2237 or text NEDA to 741741
Staying Healthy – The Center for Disease Control (CDC) recommends incorporating exercise into your routine by stretching, meditating or performing deep breathing exercises. They also recommend that you engage in hobbies and activities that you enjoy or that are calming. You can find exercise routines online for free.
Mental Health Plan – If you have a mental health diagnosis, it is recommended that you continue your treatment plan, monitor for any new symptoms, and call your health care provider if you have any concerns.
Social Security Offices – The Social Security Administration (SSA) recently announced that their offices would close due to the coronavirus. Phone and online services will still be available. You may contact the SSA at 1-800-772-1213 at any time for automated services. If you call this number Monday through Friday between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m., you may be able to speak with a national representative. You may also email the SSA.
Ohio Department of Medicaid – Governor Mike DeWine issued an executive order on March 19, 2020, that expanded services for Ohio’s Medicaid recipients. This order will expand medical and behavioral care through the use of telehealth services. Telehealth services may include online interactions, video submissions, telephone calls and FaceTime. This expanded service will allow Medicaid recipients to receive quality care without leaving their homes.
Ohio County Boards of Developmental Disabilities –You can find your county board by going to the Ohio Department of Developmental Disabilities website and selecting your county. This map is updated daily. All county boards of developmental disabilities maintain 24-hour hotlines.
To report an incident of abuse, neglect, or theft happening to a person with an intellectual or developmental disability, you can call your local county board of developmental disabilities. If someone is in danger, call 911.
You may also contact the Ohio Department of Developmental Disabilities about abuse, neglect, and theft by dialing 1-866-313-6733 during business hours, or you can report your concern online anytime.
Local Health Departments – Local health departments do not test for the coronavirus. You can receive information regarding the coronavirus from your local county health department via Twitter or by logging onto their website. Most counties are posting updates daily, if not more often. You can find your local health department on the Ohio Department of Health website.
Local Boards of Mental Health and Addiction Services – Ohio has 47 county-based boards known as Alcohol, Drug Addiction and Mental Health Services (ADAMHS) boards. These boards plan, develop, fund, manage, and evaluate community-based mental health and addiction services. You can locate information about your local ADAMHS board on the Ohio Association of County Behavioral Health Authorities website.
Adult Protective Services – All County Departments of Job and Family Services provide Adult Protective Services (APS) to older Ohioans who are in danger of harm, unable to protect themselves, or have no one to help them. Ohio residents age 60 and older are eligible for these services. A directory and contact information for these services are listed by county and may be found on the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services website.
Crisis ASL Interpreting – Deaf World Against Violance (DWAVE) has launched a 24-hour crisis American Sigh Language interpreting service at 614-580-0662. Calling that number will connect you to the Trauma Communication Specialist, who will collect necessary information and find an interpreter as soon as possible. Interpreters will receive training in trauma informed care applications in interpreting, domestic violence, intimate partner violence, sexual assault and violence, child abuse, and access immediate linguistic and cultural needs. Rates for the service are $60 per hour with a one-hour minimum and no cancellation or late fees. There is a sliding fee scale based on ability to pay.
Utilities – Many utility companies, such as American Electric Power, South Central Power, Lancaster Utilities, Columbia Gas of Ohio, Duke, and Dominion, have stopped shutting off services during the coronavirus crisis. Please contact your utility company for more information. If you are having problems with your utility company, you may contact the customer service department of the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) at 800-686-7826. Please know that PUCO does not regulate the companies that provide cable, cell phones or internet services.
Cable and Internet Services
Cable and Internet – Due to the coronavirus, many companies have pledged to not disconnect internet and cable services or charge late fees to their customers who cannot pay their bills. Some companies are offering free internet service for people who don’t make very much money. The National Digital Inclusion Alliance is keeping this list of Free & Low-Cost Internet Plans. If you don’t see a company in your area on that list, please contact your area cable and internet providers to see what programs are available.
United Way – Call United Way at 866-211-9966 and give them your ZIP code. They will give you a list of local agencies that may be able to help you.
Call 211 – If you need help finding food, paying housing bills, or other essential services, dial 211 to speak to someone who may be able to locate programs in your area that will help you.
Threat of Eviction
Eviction – President Trump said that his administration will suspend foreclosures and evictions for homeowners at least until the end of April 2020. President Trump also stated that the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) is providing immediate help to renters and homeowners by suspending all foreclosures and evictions until the end of April 2020.
If you are being threatened with eviction, please call an Ohio Legal Aid Office or Disability Rights Ohio.
Legal aid is for people who may not be able to afford a lawyer. In order to qualify for legal aid at these nonprofit organizations, you will need to contact them directly. At this time all legal aid offices have suspended their walk-in services and many are only accepting calls on a limited basis. Ohio’s Legal Aid offices are listed below.
- Cleveland Homeless Legal Assistance Program – 216-432-0543
- Community Legal Aid in Youngstown – 330-744-3196
- Community Legal Aid in Akron – 330-535-4191
- Community Legal Aid in Canton – 800-998-9545
- Community Legal Aid in Warren – 330-373-1448
- Legal Aid Society of Cleveland – 888-817-3777
- Legal Aid Society of Columbus – 614-224-8374
- Legal Aid Society of Greater Cincinnati – 513-241-9400
- Legal Aid of Western Ohio – 877-894-4599
- Pro Seniors (Older Ohioans) – 513-345-4160
- Southeastern Ohio Legal Services – 800-589-5888
Disability Rights Ohio (DRO) is the state’s designated Protection and Advocacy agency for people with disabilities in Ohio. DRO advocates for the human, civil and legal rights of people with disabilities. DRO may be able to provide some help to individuals with disabilities who are facing eviction. DRO’s intake department may be reached at 800-282-9181.
Homeless Shelters and Service Animals
Homeless Shelters – If you are homeless, there are shelters you can contact for help. You can look for homeless shelters and service organizations on the Homeless Shelter Directory website or by calling 800-569-4287.
If you are homeless and have a service animal, please know that the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) says that service animals must be allowed in all areas where the public is allowed to go, including homeless and emergency shelters. Remember that no one can ask you for a certificate or license for your service animal.
Office of Unemployment Insurance Operations – Governor DeWine issued an executive order issued that makes it easier for Ohioans to receive unemployment benefits during the coronavirus emergency. In addition, there is no longer a waiting period for Ohioans to receive unemployment benefits.
Because of Governor DeWine’s order, Ohioans can now apply for unemployment benefits in two situations:
- If they are asked by a doctor, local health department or employer to isolate themselves because of the coronavirus, even if they are not actually diagnosed with the coronavirus.
- If they are laid off from their job because of the coronavirus.
To for unemployment benefits, go to unemployment.ohio.gov. Due to the coronavirus, an extremely high number of people are filing for unemployment with the Office of Unemployment. This means there may be longer than normal waiting times for people trying to file for benefits.
On March 22, Governor DeWine announced a Stay at Home Order requiring that Ohioans stay in their homes and not travel except when it’s absolutely necessary. Some examples of necessary travel include going to a work at an essential business; going to get food, going to help a family member, friend or pet; or going to important medical appointments.
If you must travel, the AACs have gathered information about transportation options often used by people with disabilities below.
Ohio Public Transportation
All of Ohio’s major cities continue to offer public transportation and are sanitizing and disinfecting their buses more often. Some cities are limiting the number of people that are allowed on the bus at one time. Several cities are not charging people to ride the bus. More information about public bus transportation is listed below.
|Ohio City||Public Transportation||Current Services||Website||Phone Number|
|Akron||Akron METRO||Bus fare is free at this time. The city’s bus service is still running, with a few routes being cancelled. The transit center lobby is closed.||akronmetro.org
|Canton||Stark Area Regional Transit Authority (SARTA)||SARTA continues to provide public bus service.||sartaonline.com/schedules
|Cincinnati||Southwest Ohio Regional Transit Authority (SORTA)||Bus fare is free at this time. The bus service schedule has been modified.||go-metro.com
|Cleveland||Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority (GCRTA).||Starting March 24, 2020, Park-N-Ride and Trolley Service will be suspended until further notice.||riderta.com
|Columbus||Central Ohio Transit Authority (COTA)||Bus fare is free at this time. Essential travel only until further notice.||cota.com||614-228-1776|
|Dayton||Dayton Regional Transit Authority (RTA)||Dayton RTA continues to provide public bus service.||I-riderta.org||937-425-8352|
|Toledo||Toledo Area Regional Transit Authority (TARTA)||Starting March 20, 2020, only 10 people will be allowed on a bus at one time. Call-A-Ride services are cancelled until further notice. TARTA will be running on a Level III service. Services will run on a Saturday schedule with lineups beginning at 9 a.m. and ending at 6 p.m. Lineups will also run every hour and a half.||tarta.com||419-245-5235|
|Youngstown||Western Reserve Transit Authority (WRTA)||WRTA offices are closed to the public until further notice. Buses are still operating in Mahoning and Trumbull Counties.||wrtaonline.com||330-744-8431|
Greyhound Bus Service – Greyhound continues to offer limited transportation services and has enhanced the sanitation procedures that they use on all of their buses. Greyhound is encouraging all passengers to wash their hands frequently and to carry and use hand sanitizer. Due to the coronavirus, Greyhound is offering no change fees if you wish to postpone your travel plans.
Private Transportation Services – Transportation such as Uber and Lyft are still available for use.
How to Stay Informed and Busy
Activities – It is hard to stay active while practicing social distancing. To stay active and engaged, you could consider taking a virtual class, exercising, baking, working on arts and craft projects or playing board games. Some specific activities available to Ohioans are listed below.
- Virtual tours of several Ohio’s museums are available on the websites of the Museum of the United States Air Force, National Museum of the Great Lakes, Ohio Craft Museum and the Canton Museum of Art.
- The Ohio History Connection is posting new content daily at ohiohistory.org/learnathome
- The Cincinnati Zoo is hosting daily streams on Facebook Live. Each day they will focus on a different animal in the zoo. They will also be sharing fun activities that you can do at home.
- Cleveland Chef Michael Symon will live stream cooking recipes on the Food Network Kitchen’s Facebook page.
- Yoga Bliss Akron and Yoga Bliss Green will host free instructional yoga sessions on Facebook Live at least three times a day.
- Planet Fitness is offering free, daily virtual fitness classes on their Facebook page at 7 p.m. Monday through Friday.
Media – There are many ways to obtain reliable updates regarding the coronavirus. Some resources are listed below.
- TV: All PBS Stations
- Radio: All Ohio NPR Affiliates
- Online: org, cdc.gov/coronavirus and coronavirus.ohio.gov
- Call Center: For answers to questions regarding the coronavirus, you may call 1-833-4-ASK-ODH (1-833-427-5634) between 9 a.m. and 8 p.m. every day.
Other Important Information
Consumer Protection – If you believe that you have been charged excessive prices for essential items during this public health emergency, please contact the office of the Ohio Attorney General at 1-800-282-0515.
National Elder Fraud Hotline – If you believe you’ve witnessed fraud against an older adult and need help reporting it, call 833–FRAUD–11 (833–372–8311).
Facilities and Congregate Settings – If you or a family member lives in a facility, Ohio has adopted Center for Disease Control (CDC) guidelines to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. A summary these guidelines is listed below.
- Tell residents and visitors about the facility’s emergency plan for diseases that are contagious, like the coronavirus
- Train and remind staff to practice good hand washing and other actions that can keep the virus from spreading
- Use staff the same way every day to reduce the number of caregivers for each resident
To remain engaged with friends, family members and loved ones living in a facility, video chats, cards, letters and telephone calls may be a good option instead of visiting.
School – Ohio’s schools are closed, and it is possible that they will remain closed for the remainder of the school year. Schools are still required to provide education, though, so teachers are communicating with parents about school work for students. You can call or email your child’s school or district offices to get help or more information.
Religious Services – Many religious services have been suspended and several places of worship are moving to an online format. Please contact your place of worship to see if they are holding services or to get help finding one you can watch online.
Mail – FedEx, the United States Postal Service (USPS), and the United Parcel Service (UPS) are continuing to deliver packages and mail to people’s homes.
Ohio National Guard – The governor has asked the Ohio National Guard to help during the coronavirus outbreak. They are distributing food to foodbanks, helping with increasing the number of hospital beds Ohio has available and providing medical support at the federal prison in Ohio. They are not doing any policing or security work.
Stay at Home Order
Governor DeWine and Director of Ohio’s Department of Health Dr. Amy Acton issued a Stay at Home Order on March 22. The order goes into effect at 11:59 p.m. on March 23. Sometimes these are also called Shelter-in-Place Orders. A Stay at Home Order is used during a public health emergency and means that residents must stay at home unless it is absolutely necessary. There are five essential activities, listed below, that are still allowed in Ohio’s Stay at Home Order:
- Performing tasks essential to health and safety, like going to the doctor or the emergency room or getting out of a dangerous situation
- Getting necessary supplies or to deliver necessary supplies, such as getting groceries or picking up food from a restaurant
- Going for a walk, run, hike or other outdoor activity, as long as you keep at least six feet of distance away from people who do not live with you
- Going to work at an essential business, like a mail service, grocery store, hardware store or bank, or to perform minimum basic operations at a business or agency, like taking in the mail or taking care of plants or animals
- Performing health care operations, like working at a hospital or a doctor’s office
Coronavirus – Although social distancing is difficult, there are many inspirational messages and acts of kindness happening throughout Ohio. For example, an Ohioan who is at Mercy Hospital after testing positive for the coronavirus is sharing videos of his recovery in an effort to help others. This and many other inspiring stories are being reported in Ohio every day. Although it is unknown how long we will have to practice social distancing and what path the coronavirus will take, if we work together, we can support and help one another through this difficult time.