These weekly updates will provide the latest news and information on what our community, the state, and the federal government are doing as we face an unprecedented pandemic.
Responding to the January 6th Events in Washington D.C.
I am deeply disturbed at the events that took place in our nation’s capital on Wednesday. The very essence of our democracy hinges on the peaceful transfer of power and accepting the will of the people at the ballot box. I am relieved that the Senate was able to conclude their certification of results that confirm Joe Biden as the President-elect and Kamala Harris as Vice President-elect of the United States of America.
I implore every American to follow the rule of law. I also call upon my colleagues in the Texas Legislature and the United States Congress to enact meaningful election reform by enabling online voter registration and comprehensive mail-in ballot options. My full statement can be accessed here.
Requesting Modified COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution
This week, I joined my fellow legislators in requesting that Governor Abbott and Doctor Hellerstedt, the Commission of the Department of State Health Services, modify current vaccine rollout plans to ensure that Texans are vaccinated efficiently and safely. The letter includes four requests:
- Prioritize vaccination for those whose occupations require them to interact with people outside of their household.
- Take special care to distribute opportunities for vaccination widely and with an eye toward making them equally available to all Texans regardless of racial or ethnic background.
- Provide state legislators with frequent and regular updates on the vaccination distribution plan and its implementation so that we can relay accurate information and amplify plans to our constituents. The information that we are provided needs to match what is actually happening across the state, and state plans need to be immediately revised if they are not feasible in actuality.
- Institute feedback mechanisms to ensure that vaccination priorities are being enacted, and share the results of these inquiries with the Legislature.
My colleagues and I look forward to Governor Abbott and Doctor Hellerstedt’s response. The full letter can be accessed on Representative Vikki Goodwin’s Facebook page here.
State-Run COVID-19 Mobile Testing Sites
The Texas Division of Emergency Management (TDEM), in partnership with the Texas Military Department, is continuing to run COVID-19 testing locations across the state. Texans can find a testing site near them by visiting the COVID-19 Test Collection Site map.
Texas COVID-19 Vaccine Provider Locations
Texas Health and Human Services has created a map tracking the distribution of and locations providing COVID-19 vaccines. Texans can find providers near them in the coming months by visiting the COVID-19 Vaccine Provider Locations map. Information about vaccination distribution and availability can also be found here. Information about the vaccine can be found here.
Dallas County COVID-19 Vaccination Registration Website
Dallas County Health and Human Services (DCHHS) has opened up a COVID-19 vaccination registration and pre-screening site for Dallas County residents in phase 1A or 1B, as outlined by the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS). While vaccine supply is extremely limited, DCHHS anticipates receiving additional supply in the coming weeks and months. The registration website is for vaccination eligibility only at DCHHS, and not for all providers within Dallas County. Dallas County residents can to go here to register, be pre-screened and received additional information on the COVID-19 vaccine. Registrants will be notified of next steps as additional vaccine becomes available.
COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution Updates
Next week, Texas will direct most of the COVID-19 vaccine received from the federal government to large providers who can vaccinate a total of more than 100,000 people. Additional vaccine will be distributed to smaller providers in other parts of the state. As the vaccination effort continues to expand to people who are at a greater risk of hospitalization and death, in addition to front-line health care workers, these vaccination hubs will provide people in those priority populations with identifiable sites where vaccination is occurring and a simpler way to sign-up for an appointment with each provider. That will be the last week the state is required to reserve doses to vaccinate residents and staff of long-term care facilities under the federal pharmacy-LTC partnership, freeing up more vaccine for use in other settings in the future.
Small Business COVID-19 Emergency Loans Changes
As part of an end-of-year pandemic relief package, Congress has passed several changes to the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and created a “Second Draw” PPP for small businesses who have exhausted their initial loan. Other changes impact eligibility for initial PPP loans, the loan forgiveness process, and the tax treatment of PPP loans. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has created a guide outlining the changes that can be found here.
Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program Extended
In response to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, small business owners, including agricultural businesses, and nonprofit organizations can apply for an Economic Injury Disaster Loan. The EIDL program is designed to provide economic relief to businesses that are currently experiencing a temporary loss of revenue due to coronavirus (COVID-19). The U.S. Small Business Administration announced that the deadline to apply for the Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) program for the COVID-19 Pandemic disaster declaration is extended to Dec. 31, 2021. More information about the loan program and extension can be found here.
Extended SNAP Benefits in 2021
The Texas Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC) will provide approximately $204 million in emergency Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) food benefits for the month of January as the state continues its response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Beginning in January, recipients will receive a 15 percent increase in their total benefits, which will continue monthly until June 2021. The additional 15 percent increase and the emergency allotment amount should appear in recipients’ accounts by Jan. 23. The Governor’s full announcement can be read here.
2021 Barbara Jordan Media Awards Nominations Requested
The Governor’s Committee on People with Disabilities (GCPD) is now accepting nominations for the 2021 Barbara Jordan Media Awards (BJMA). These awards seek to spotlight journalists who portray people with disabilities through a positive, person-centered lens. Award-winning works use accurate and positive reporting, respectfully depict people with disabilities, and use people-first language. GCPD believes that journalists help shape our perceptions and thereby our culture; well-produced, creative stories illustrating people with disabilities as a person before all else benefits everyone. Self-nominations are welcome and encouraged in all categories. For more information, submission guidelines, and entry forms, please contact our office or visit the BJMA page on our website. The deadline for submissions is February 17th, 2021.