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.

Staying Safe While Staying Festive this Winter

With Winter holidays fast approaching, state and local officials have issued guidance for how to have socially distanced fun during the coronavirus pandemic. Officials do not advise participating in traditional holiday activities. Large, indoor gatherings and activities that bring you face-to-face with people should be avoided. Instead, officials recommend hosting virtual movie nights with family and friends, virtual cookie decorating competitions, and looking at neighborhood light displays in cars with household family members. More information about guidelines can be found here or here in video format.

Rising COVID-19 Cases and Reducing DFW Business Capacity

Trauma Service Area E (TSA E), which includes Dallas County and the greater Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex, today reached seven consecutive days where the percentage of COVID-19 confirmed patients in regional hospitals, as a percentage of available hospital beds, exceeded 15 percent. As a result, businesses whose occupancy rates were increased to 75% in October are immediately reduced back to 50%. This includes all restaurants, retail stores, office buildings, manufacturing facilities, gyms and exercise facilities and classes, museums, and libraries in Dallas County and the other counties comprising TSA-E. A full list of affected businesses can be located here

TSA E will remain under these restrictions until there are seven consecutive days where the percentage of COVID-19 confirmed patients in regional hospitals as a percentage of available hospital beds is at 15 percent or less. Additional information on GA-32 and a list of all affected counties can be found 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.

COVID-19 Rapid Testing Pilot Program for Small Businesses

The Texas Division of Emergency Management (TDEM) has launched a COVID-19 Rapid Testing Pilot Program for front line workers at Texas small businesses. This program will help small businesses throughout the state conduct rapid tests on employees to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. Through this pilot program, TDEM will provide local Chamber of Commerce organizations with COVID-19 testing supplies that will then allocate the supplies to local small businesses that choose to participate in the program. These small businesses can then administer these tests to employees who choose to participate. The full announcement can be read here.

Texas COVID-19 Vaccines Allocation Update

DSHS has submitted the first week’s allocation of COVID-19 vaccine to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The first week’s allocation is 224,250 doses of the Pfizer vaccine to be shipped to 109 hospitals in 34 counties as early as the week of Dec. 14, depending on when the vaccine is authorized for use in the United States. As expected, the initial vaccine supply is limited, and the first week’s allocation is based on information submitted by vaccine providers when they enrolled, including the number of health care workers who can be quickly vaccinated and vaccine storage capacity at each site. More vaccine will be available for more providers in the following weeks, including vaccine from Moderna once it is authorized. The distribution list for this week’s allocation can be accessed here.

Final Week to Sign Up for Marketplace 2021 Health Insurance

This is the final week to sign up for health insurance coverage on a Marketplace plan for 2021 through Open Enrollment. The sign-up period began on November 1, 2020 and ends December 15, 2020.  If you need to renew your coverage, or sign up for the first time, you have one week until the deadline. For those previously enrolled through the Marketplace, now is the time to check your coverage and shop plans to make sure you have the best fit for your needs going forward in 2021. For those new to the Marketplace, please visit Healthcare.gov to learn about your options and what financial assistance may be available to help you with coverage. Almost 80% of people who signed up for coverage last year, qualified for financial assistance last year, making coverage affordable and accessible.

SNAP Emergency Funding Continued in December 2020

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 December as the state responds to the COVID-19 pandemic. SNAP is a federal program that provides food assistance to 1.7 million eligible low-income families and individuals in Texas. Texans in need can apply for benefits, including SNAP and Medicaid, at YourTexasBenefits.com or use the Your Texas Benefits mobile app to manage their benefits.

Upcoming Irving-Las Colinas Chamber of Commerce Events

The Irving-Las Colinas Chamber of Commerce is hosting a variety of virtual events in the coming months for local businesses and community members. On December 10, the Chamber will be hosting a Legislative Send-Off for members of the upcoming 87th Texas legislative session. On December 16 at 9am, the Chamber will be hosting a panel of experts discuss mental health in today’s environment, the need for additional mental health programs, erasing the stigma, current resources and tools available in the community and what future changes need to be made to improve mental health throughout Texas. A full list of upcoming events can be found here.

City of Dallas Union Bikeway Project: Seeking Community Input

Dallas is working on stitching together a major bike trail in the heart of the city and wants your feedback on the design! View the Union Bikeway Project design here and share your feedback during the Dallas City Council meeting here.

City of Dallas Fines and Fees Assessment: Seeking Feedback

The City of Dallas has launched a community survey to better understand how fines, imposed fees and financial penalties impact community members. This work is part of a growing national movement recognizing the disproportionate fines and fees have on people of color and people who are struggling to make ends meet. For residents living on low incomes, a cascade of consequences sets in when they cannot pay: their debt can grow, their driver’s license can be suspended, their credit score goes down, and their employment and economic mobility opportunities are diminished. The survey, available in English and Spanish, is open to the public until Dec. 18 and can be found here.

Holiday Events in and around Coppell

The City of Coppell has compiled a list of city-hosted and community-hosted holiday events for December. Events vary from online competitions, virtual game nights, holiday light events, and more! The full list can be accessed here.

Metrocrest Services Toy Drive: Happening Now

The Metrocrest Services Toy Drive is going on now. Toy donation boxes are set up at Carrollton City Hall, as well as both Josey Ranch Lake Library and Hebron & Josey Library, now through 5:30 pm, Wednesday, December 16. A list of recommended donation items is below. Monetary donations can be given here.

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