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.

Requesting a Mass Vaccination Station in Irving & Grand Prairie

Last week, I joined my colleagues in requesting that the state institute a coronavirus vaccine hub in either Irving or Grand Prairie in order to combat the spread of COVID-19 in the broader D-FW area. This week, it was announced that a vaccine hub will be opening at The Theatre at Grand Prairie, 1001 Performance Place. The site will soon be open Monday through Friday for vaccination by appointment only. More information about the letter and the new vaccine hub can be found here.

Governor Abbott’s State of the State Address 

On February 1, 2021, Governor Abbott presented his State of the State Address, speaking to current issues facing Texas. Abbott focused his address on: expanding broadband access across Texas, expanding access to telemedicine services, the Damon Allen Act, elections, and the state’s response to the coronavirus pandemic. A general transcript of the address can be accessed here.

Texas HDC Chair Chris Turner (D-Grand Prairie responded to the address by saying, “The governor’s speech was notable only for what he did not say: no mention of increasing health care access to millions of uninsured Texans, no mention of policing and criminal justice reform, no mention of gun violence in the wake of El Paso and Odessa and no relief from the STAAR test. Texas House Democrats are fighting to tackle these issues and to help our state recover from COVID-19. We look forward to working with any legislators — Republican or Democrat — who will prioritize people over politics and provide real solutions for all Texans.”

Constituent and Advocacy Meetings

With the Legislative session beginning once again, I have begun meeting with local constituency groups and advocacy organizations to hear what issues are important to my constituents. This week, I had the privilege of meeting with representatives from Moms Demand Action Dallas, chiropractors from the district, Schneider Electric, and teachers from Dallas Alliance. I look forward to meeting with and hearing from more passionate individuals and groups in the coming months!

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 Availability map. A list of vaccine hub providers can be found here. Information about vaccination distribution and availability can also be found here. Information about the vaccine can be found here.

COVID-19 Rapid Testing for Small Business Frontline Workers

The Texas Division of Emergency Management (TDEM) has announced the expansion of the COVID-19 Rapid Testing Program for front line workers at Texas small businesses by dedicating 1 million BinaxNow Rapid Tests to the program. The COVID-19 Small Business Rapid Testing Program launched in December as a pilot program to help small businesses conduct rapid tests on employees to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. Through this program, TDEM provides local Chamber of Commerce organizations with COVID-19 testing supplies that will then be allocated to local small businesses that choose to participate in the program. Chamber of Commerce organizations that wish to participate in the program will receive instructions for registering for the program directly from TDEM, or they may visit https://tdem.texas.gov/chambertesting/ for further information. 

COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution Updates

This week, Texas received over half a million first doses of the COVID-19 vaccine and are also receiving second doses. Receivers of the Pfizer or Moderna COVID-19 vaccine should receive a second dose of the vaccine for improved immunity from the virus. The Texas Division of Emergency Management (TDEM) has also announced the creation of the State Mobile Vaccine Pilot Program to ramp up COVID-19 vaccination efforts in underserved areas of Texas. As part of this pilot program, state mobile vaccination teams made up of Texas National Guard personnel will be deployed to five rural Texas counties — DeWitt, Marion, Real, Sherman, and Starr — to administer vaccinations to qualified Texans in those communities. Texas National Guard teams are prepared to begin vaccinations on Thursday, February 4.

People can now call Dallas County Health and Human Services to register over the phone for the COVID-19 vaccine. The number for the DCHHS Vaccine Registration Hotline is 469-749-9900. The hotline hours are Monday-Friday, 8am to 5pm. Registration assistance is available in English and Spanish.

SNAP Benefits February Extension

Texas Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC) will provide approximately $300 million in emergency Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) food benefits for the month of February as the state continues its response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Recipients will also continue to receive a 15 percent increase in their total benefits, which will continue monthly until June 2021. This additional 15 percent increase and the emergency allotment amount should appear in recipients’ accounts by Feb. 28. Administered by HHSC, SNAP is a federal program that provides food assistance to approximately 1.6 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.

TEA Application for Supplementary Special Education Services

The Texas Education Agency (TEA) has launched an online application for the Supplementary Special Education Services (SSES) program, which allows eligible families of children with significant cognitive disabilities and complex educational needs to apply for a $1,500 online account to be used in the SSES marketplace. The goods and services in the marketplace can help families mitigate educational setbacks resulting from the disruptions to education prompted by COVID-19. These services do not reduce or eliminate the responsibilities of schools to provide a free appropriate public education (FAPE) to all students. Priority will be given to Texas families receiving income assistance and to families that have documented financial needs. Additional program information, resources, and the application can be found here. Any program and related eligibility questions should be directed to ssesinfo@tea.texas.gov.

Dallas County Emergency Housing Assistance Program

Dallas County Health and Human Services (DCHHS) is accepting pre-applications for an emergency housing assistance program for residents who have been financially impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. The program, funded through the CARES Act, allows up to $1,500 in mortgage, rental, and utility assistance per month, for up to six months. Eligibility requirements include: must reside outside the city of Dallas but within Dallas County, must be 18 years of age or older, must not currently be receiving housing assistance through another entity, must have experienced a negative economic impact from COVID-19, and household income must be less than 80% of the Area Median Income. DCHHS processes applications through a lottery system. To complete the pre-screening application, visit the Dallas County website here.

TWC Adult Education Classes Resource

The Texas Workforce Commission and Texas A&M’s Center for the Advancement of Literacy and Learning are offering a free database where individual can locate adult education and literacy courses and training centers across Texas. Adult education courses can provide the training and skills for the modern workforce. The database can be accessed here.

City of Coppell Arts Center Art Classes

In partnership with Art House, the Coppell Arts Center is excited to announce new classes for children! Let them exercise their imagination and develop fine motor skills with a one-hour art class, designed for ages 7-10. February classes include “Watercolor Heart with Hug” on February 11 and “Banana Painting” on February 25. For adults, the center is hosting two hour art sessions. The adult class this month is “Glass Mug Painting”on February 24.

City of Carrollton ‘Run With Rover’ Registration

Pre-registration is now open for Carrollton Texas Parks & Recreation‘s Run for Rover! Early registration gets you a discounted rate and guarantees you a race T-shirt, race bag, and timing chip. This year’s race will operate differently to maximize safety while still having fun. The race will be split into four different timeslots: 8 a.m., 8:35 a.m., 9:10 a.m., and 9:45 a.m., with no more than 50 runners per timeslot. When social distancing is not possible, masks will be required. Items such as masks, gloves, and hand sanitizer will be provided to participants and spectators. Additionally, food items will be pre-packaged. Proceeds from the 5K race benefit the animals at City of Carrollton Animal Adoption Center. Details about the race and registration can be found here.

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