Resources for Personal Response to the COVID-19 Pandemic

Risk Management Solution Crisis Identity Planning ConceptIt was March 12 when we found out that offices were closed, and the following day that schools would be closed in our state.  At that time, it was supposed to be for a two-week period, but now we have moved beyond that. While many are still working, others are laid off or furloughed. Even if you are still working, you may experience fluctuations in your income or even unexpected bills. Since the beginning, I have been keeping a list of resources shared by my friends and colleagues during this difficult time. 

Now is the time to share them with you.

Several government agencies have pulled together resources for consumers. The list is not comprehensive and focuses primarily on finance related topics. An important note is that the federal tax filing deadline is extended from April 15 until July 15. Now if you are expecting a refund, you probably should not wait to file your taxes. You should also check the filing requirements for your state. Maryland residents have a filing date of July 15.  Click on the links below for government resources in response to COVID-19.

Cooperative Extension has responded with resources available for food preservation, nutrition, mindfulness, and finance. Most of the links provided will focus on finances, as that is the role I serve with Extension. The most important item to remember is that you need a plan. Figure out your current situation and develop a plan in case your situation changes. Always seek credible resources for information. There are people out there that are trying to take advantage of you in this challenging environment. The Cooperative Extension resources listed below are credible. You should also check the Extension resources available in your state.

I am a member of the National Extension Association of Family and Consumer Sciences (NEAFCS).  The organization has pulled together a list of resources around emergency preparedness, cleaning, hand washing, and food safety, family resources, and financial wellness resources.  Click here for its COVID-19 resources.

Some parents are looking for free resources to teach your children at home. 

Colleagues have sent me other resources as pdf files.  If you are interested in them, please email me at

It is important to keep in mind that this situation is temporary. Stay positive as this will pass. During difficult times, you need to take care of your mental and physical well-being. Take time to unplug and stop reading all of the negative coverage.  

Stay healthy.

Coronavirus (COVID-19) — Protect Your Health and Find Help for Financial Stress

Questions about Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) continue to swirl through daily updates and new information. How do I stay healthy? How can I afford to be sick? What happens if I lose my income? How do I protect myself and my family?

coping-with-stressStress is often the result of uncertainty. Because stress alone can make us sick or more susceptible to disease, it is important to take steps to reduce uncertainty by staying informed and planning ahead when possible.

How can I stay healthy? Most importantly, get answers and information from a reputable source. Helpful suggestions can be found from the CDC, The World Health Organization, and your state or local health department. All provide instructions for simple preventative precautions that you can take to reduce the likelihood of getting sick:

  • Wash your hands frequently for at least 20 seconds.
  • Avoid touching your mouth, nose, and eyes.
  • Keep a distance of three feet from others whenever possible.
  • Stay home from work or other activities if you are sick.

Coping with financial stress

Can I afford to get sick? The new virus strain might be scary, causing worry about paying for the virus testing and hospital bills. Staying home from work might mean a missed paycheck, or even a lost job.

There is help. Many insurance providers are covering the cost of the test as well as waiving co-payments. Check with your own insurance company for details. If you’re on Medicare, Medicare Part B covers coronavirus (COVID-19) testing. This test is covered when your doctor or other health care provider orders it.

Important: Call your health care provider first before seeking the test.  A referral is required, and testing is not appropriate in all cases. Do you live in Maryland and do not have health insurance? There’s a checkbox on the MD income tax form to notify the Maryland Health Connection if you don’t have health insurance. Anyone deemed eligible will be mailed a letter allowing them to sign up for health insurance within 35 days under special enrollment.

What about loss of income? Employer response varies widely — some are offering paid or partial paid leave, some are not or simply can’t. Discuss concerns with your employer. Are you self-employed?  Proposed federal legislation offers relief.

How can I meet my obligations and expenses? Policies are quickly being implemented to specifically meet coronavirus related needs.

helping-children-cope-with-stress-printIn Maryland:

  • Eviction is temporarily prohibited for any coronavirus-related delay in rent payment.
  • Shutoffs and late fees are currently suspended.
  • Meals for children. There are over 100 locations across the state to provide three meals and a snack to children impacted by school closings.
  • Mortgage, student loan, and other debts. Talk directly with your lender for updates on terms. There is proposed legislation to provide debt relief for student loan and other borrowers.
  • Help with basic needs. Start with your local Community Action Agency.

How do I plan ahead for events like this? The biggest concern now is to stay healthy. However, when the crisis is over, there are steps you can take to reduce financial stress in the future.

  1. Have an emergency fund just for loss income. Start saving with small steps. If you can save one hour of pay each week for a year, you will have more than a full week’s pay saved.
  2. Evaluate your health insurance plan each year during open enrollment to make sure the plan you have is your best choice. Resources for this can be found here, especially on pages 13-18.
  3. Know your health insurance deductible and estimate your annual health care costs so they can be included in your spending plan.

It is very important to receive information about the coronavirus and financial help from reliable sources.  A few are listed below:

Protecting Your Health

Coronavirus information from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

Coronavirus information Maryland Department of Health (MDH) 

Tests for the coronavirus-Frequently asked questions from the Maryland Department of Health

Updated information from the Maryland Governor’s Office

Stopping the spread of Coronavirus (available in English, Spanish, and Chinese)

Symptoms of Coronavirus(available in English, Spanish, and Chinese)

Coping with Stress

World Health Organization (WHO), coping with stress during the coronavirus outbreak

World Health Organization (WHO), helping children cope with stress during the coronavirus outbreak

Coping with Financial Stress

National Extension’s Financial Security for All




Opioid Awareness, Resources and Mental Health 

Editor’s Note: This post was written by our Family & Consumer Sciences intern, Caroline Triay, University of Maryland Communications major, Class of 2021


Drugs and pills on the table

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that drug overdose has become the leading cause of injury-related deaths in the United States. Over 70,000 people died in 2017, and nearly 50,000 of those deaths were because of opioid and prescription drug misuse. 

Many opioid addictions start at home. Leftover prescription pills and shared medicine cabinets can make these drugs easily accessible to the whole household.  

Not only does abusing opioid prescription drugs damage physical health, but it also takes a toll on mental wellbeing. Leaving mental health untreated when recovering from addiction can cause additional burdens on the abuser making the recovery process more painful. 

Opioid misuse is linked to anxiety, depression and bipolar disorder. Opioids could also potentially become a gateway to other drugs such a heroin. Psycom shares helpful tips on spotting opioid addiction: 

  • Consuming opioid drugs for longer or larger amounts than prescribed
  • Spending prolonged time using or obtaining the drug
  • Craving opioids
  • Opioid use interferes with everyday routines such as school, work, or home life
  • Continuing to use drugs even if they strain relationships

Once it is clear that you or a loved one suffers from opioid addiction, immediate action should be taken to address the medical concerns that come with withdrawal. Because mental illness may arise in the recovery process of opioid abuse, it is necessary to strengthen wellbeing through additional programs. Psycom also includes effective treatment options that address mental illnesses that could develop. 

A woman taking medicine

  • Addiction and depression peer group support 
  • Intensive counseling
  • Additional medication for addiction and depression
  • Customized treatment plan
  • Family counselling

The opioid epidemic has become a serious and deadly problem in the United States. Know the addiction risks of taking opioids, and be cautious of taking medications, using them as prescribed by your doctor. Your physical and mental health are at stake. 

For more resources, or to learn more about how Extension is working to strengthen communities dealing with this issue, go to