Here Are Resources in the DC Area as Coronavirus Changes Daily Life

The number of coronavirus cases in D.C., Maryland and Virginia is increasing by the day — but so is the number of resources available if you need help. 

Governments passed emergency legislation to make it easier for residents to get unemployment benefits, schools are handing out meals and some grocery stores have special hours for seniors and people more vulnerable to the virus. 

Here’s a roundup of many resources available in the D.C. area. If there’s something else you need, email us at tips@nbcwashington.com and we’ll see how we can Work 4 You. 

Unemployment Benefits 

D.C., Maryland and Virginia have each made it easier to get unemployment benefits. Tens of thousands of people have already applied. 

Virginia’s chief workforce development advisor, Megan Healy, encouraged residents to apply if there’s a chance they could be eligible. If you're not eligible now, you could be eligible later.

“If you think at all that you can get unemployment, we want everyone to apply,” she said Friday. “The rules change daily, maybe hourly, of who can get unemployment insurance. So if you are denied, we’re going to keep that data. If the rules change from the [US] Department of Labor, we can go back and issue those checks.” 

Go here to file for unemployment in D.C. Go here to file in Maryland. And go here to file in Virginia

The coronavirus is adding to the isolation of one of the most vulnerable groups in our community: senior citizens. But the volunteers who bring them meals and deliver medicine are not letting up in the face of the pandemic. Northern Virginia Bureau Chief Julie Carey reports they are adapting to keep everyone safe.

Free or Low-Cost Meals and Groceries

Food banks and food pantries across the D.C. area are helping people in need. The Capital Area Food Bank has food distribution partners at dozens of sites across the region. Their offerings include after-school meals for children, pop-up pantries and programs for seniors. See their website to learn more

A number of individual restaurants also are providing meals. Chef José Andrés closed all his restaurants in the region and is offering “affordable” takeout meals during limited hours. The steak frites restaurants Medium Rare were delivering free meals to seniors who were confined to their homes. In Fairfax, 29 Diner had free meals for workers and students

A steak restaurant with multiple locations in the D.C. area wants to make sure seniors get hot meals, even as thousands isolate themselves to protect for the coronavirus pandemic.

Meals for Children 

Many schools have meal pickup options for students. D.C. public schools have meals available for all youth every weekday during the period of remote learning, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Fairfax County Public Schools have grab-and-go food distribution sites at more than a dozen locations. Breakfast is available from 8 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. and lunch is available from 10:30 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Prince George’s County Public Schools are offering free breakfast, lunch and dinner at multiple schools in the county. Students can pick up all three meals at once from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. daily.

Prince William County also has grab-and-go meal options from 9 to 10 a.m. throughout the week.

If your school district is not listed here, check the district's website.

The coronavirus pandemic is having a big impact on school children, upending their routines. But local teachers and principals are finding ways to reconnect with their students — virtually. News4's Julie Carey shows one principal’s approach.

Small Business Owner Support 

Several loans and grants are available to help small business owners hit hard by the virus. D.C. has $25 million in grants available to business owners, nonprofits and people who are self-employed.

Maryland has $130 million in grants and loans. Go here for more information. And Virginia has loans available through the U.S. Small Business Administration. Go here for information

Additionally, businesses have longer to file taxes

Here are some tips from CNBC on how to make ends meet at this difficult time

Home-Schooling and Distance Learning

Individual school districts, schools and teachers are providing guidance on how learning can continue even though students are home.

If you're looking for more, the Smithsonian museums have free distance-learning resources for parents and teachers to use with students.

The online library offers everything from a virtual design camp to lessons about geography and music. There are structured lessons as well as photos, videos, audio clips and more.

There are also countless virtual exhibits available to browse. Libraries have e-books to borrow as well as online classes to take. For a list of more virtual exhibits and library resources, go here.

Some of the most popular tourist spots in D.C., Maryland and Virginia have been closed to address the coronavirus pandemic. News4's Derrick Ward reports.

Service Industry Worker Support

The government response to coronavirus has put many service industry employees out of work.

To give out-of-work service industry workers a boost, a virtual tip jar began circulating on social media last week. More than 1,000 employees across the D.C. area are listed and open to receiving digital payments.

One Fair Wage’s Emergency Fund is providing financial assistance to service workers out of a job. The Restaurant Workers’ Community Foundation is also accepting donations for restaurant workers, restaurants and groups that help restaurants.

The bar Hook Hall in Northwest D,C. has provided restaurant and bar workers with free meals and other resources, including toilet paper. The Restaurant Association Metropolitan Washington partnered with Hook Hall and is accepting donations to support their initiative

Bigger picture: The governments of D.C., Maryland and Virginia have all made it easier to get unemployment benefits.

News4's Derrick Ward speaks to employees and customers at Giant Grocery Store in Aspen Hill, Maryland.

Grocery Store and Big Box Store Hours

Some grocery stores and big box stores in the D.C. area have opted to close early to give workers extra time to clean. Whole Foods and Target each said they would reduce hours. Whole Foods did so in order to “give our Team Members more time to restock shelves, sanitize our stores and rest in preparation for the next day,” the company said in a statement. 

Some stores are reserving special hours for seniors, pregnant women and people more vulnerable to the virus. 

Here’s a rundown what was open when as of Tuesday. Check your local store hours before you head out. 

ALDI: Adjusted hours, open 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily.

Giant Food: Starting March 27, most Giant stores will be open 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. The decreased hours will give workers more time to clean and restock, the company said. The first hour of the day is reserved for “senior citizens and immunocompromised individuals, including pregnant women and caregivers shopping for the immunocompromised, so that they may shop and practice safe social distancing.” All 24-hour stores will remain open for 24 hours, the company says.

Harris Teeter: Adjusted hours, open 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily.

Safeway: Special two-hour shopping window, 7- 9 a.m., on Tuesdays and Thursdays for senior citizens, pregnant women and those with compromised immune systems. Check local stores for hours.

Sam’s Club: Adjusted hours, 9 a.m. to 8 p.m., Monday through Saturday.

Target: Adjusted hours, closing at 9 p.m. daily. Stores have special hours for at-risk shoppers during the first hour of stores opening on Wednesdays.

Trader Joe's: Adjusted hours, 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Walmart: Adjusted hours, 7 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. Stores that would normally open later than 7 a.m. will open at regular times. Through April 28, Walmart stores will offer special hours every Tuesday morning one hour before opening for customers age 60 and older.

Wegmans: On adjusted hours. Stores in Virginia will open from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. Stores in Maryland will be open from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Whole Foods: Check local stores for adjusted hours as stores may close up to two hours early. Customers 60 and older can shop one hour before opening.

Montgomery County is compiling a list of grocers offering dedicated hours for older and at-risk shoppers.

You might also be able to beat the crowds and stock up on much-needed items by shopping at local independent and ethnic grocers, and corner stores.

Government Stimulus Checks 

A plan still being hashed out in Congress as of Tuesday morning would send checks to Americans based on their income. The draft plan revealed on the Senate floor Thursday would give $1,200 to individuals making up to $75,000 a year. Married couples who file their taxes jointly would have to make less than $150,000 to qualify for their payment, which would be $2,400.

Free Pet Food

The Humane Rescue Alliance of Washington, D.C, has a Pet Pantry available to anyone that needs food for their animals. You can pick up food at various locations across the city on the first and third Sundays, second Tuesday, third Friday and last Friday of the month.

Upcoming pick-ups are:

Sunday, April 5

  • 9 – 11 a.m. at 1201 New York Ave., NE
  • 2 – 4 p.m. at 15 Oglethorpe St., NW

Tuesday, April 14

  • 11 a.m. – 1 p.m. at Frederick Douglass Community Center, 2000 Alabama Ave., SE

Friday, April 17

  • 12 – 2 p.m. at Martha's Outfitters, 2204 Martin Luther King Jr. Ave., SE

Sunday, April 19

  • 9 – 11 a.m. at 1201 New York Ave., NE
  • 2 - 4 p.m. at 15 Oglethorpe St., NW

Friday, April 24

  • 12 – 2 p.m. at Bread for the City, 1640 Good Hope Rd., SE

Recipients are asked to fill out an enrollment form when they first come for pick-up. The Humane Rescue Alliance has also donated food to rescue groups in Virginia and Maryland. Contact your local rescue for information about assistance.

Willard West contributed to this report.

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