Reopening Texas and Lifting the State Mask Mandate
Governor Greg Abbott this week issued an Executive Order (GA-34) lifting the mask mandate in Texas and increasing capacity of all businesses and facilities in the state to 100 percent. Effective next Wednesday, all businesses of any type may open to 100% capacity. Additionally, this order ends the statewide mask mandate in Texas. Businesses may still limit capacity or implement additional safety protocols at their own discretion. If COVID-19 hospitalizations in any of the 22 hospital regions in Texas get above 15% of the hospital bed capacity in that region for seven straight days, a County Judge in that region may use COVID-19 mitigation strategies.
Masks work to slow the spread of COVID-19. We need to follow the advice of doctors and experts and continue to keep each other safe until the CDC tells us otherwise. Continue following CDC social distancing and masking guidelines until further notice.
“Hold Harmless” Extended
On March 4th, it was announced that Texas would provide a “hold harmless” to Texas school systems for the rest of the 2020-21 academic school year only. This means funding will be made available to school systems in Texas that have seen enrollment and attendance declines because of the COVID-19 pandemic, as long as they maintain or increase current levels of on-campus attendance. You can read more about the announcement 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 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 Vaccine Distribution Updates
This week, Texas began receiving doses of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 single-dose vaccine. The state will receive over 200,000 doses in next week’s allocation. The Save Our Seniors program has launched in 26 counties this week, including in Dallas County. The state has allocated up to 8,000 vaccine doses for the first week of the program, which the state will use in partnership with local officials and service organizations to target Texans who are 75 years and older or homebound.
In addition to that program, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services directed states to expand vaccine eligibility to include people who work in school and child care operations. This includes those who work in pre-primary, primary, and secondary schools, as well as Head Start and Early Head Start programs (including teachers, staff, and bus drivers) and those who work as or for licensed child care providers, including center-based and family care providers.
Winter Storm Recovery Resources
The Texas Department of Emergency Management (TDEM) has daily updates on the winter weather situation here. TDEM has also released a flow chart to guide those impacted by the winter storm with disaster assistance. The chart can be accessed here. On the www.tdem.texas.gov website, the home page has disaster assistance links and a “winter weather” box which opens to all the TDEM resources for individuals and locals. This includes the reporting tool, FEMA disaster assistance, the Winter Weather FAQ, Local Official Resources and Warming Centers still operating. Texans are also urged to fill out the Texas Division of Emergency Management’s Texas Individual Assistance Reporting Tool (TIART) to help the state identify damages across Texas.
On February 22, Governor Abbott announced that the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has approved a total of 108 Texas counties to receive Individual Assistance. Residents in FEMA Declared Counties can visit www.disasterassistance.gov or call 1-800-621-3362 (6:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. CT, 7 days a week. On March 2, Governor Abbott requested that an additional 32 counties be added to the federal Major Disaster Declaration for Individual Assistance. Additional counties will continue to be re-requested as the State of Texas continues to receive information reported from individuals who have suffered damage from the winter storm.
Governor Greg Abbott has also announced that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has issued a disaster designation for 23 counties in response to severe winter weather that has impacted the state. USDA continues to review production losses in all remaining Texas counties and may make future determinations as more information becomes available. This designation makes federal assistance, such as emergency loans, available to agricultural producers who have suffered losses in designated counties, as well as in counties that are contiguous to a designated county. The request, which was made in February, can be accessed here.
Additionally, city of Dallas residents whose homes sustained damage from the 2021 winter storm may be eligible for reimbursement for repairs made by licensed contractors. Call (214) 670-3644 or email HIPP@dallascityhall.com to find out if you’re eligible.
City of Coppell Water and Sanitary Sewer Usage Credit
The City of Coppell has announced that it will credit all residential and commercial water utility customers 2,000 gallons for both water and sanitary sewer usage due to the severe winter weather event. Additionally, the City will waive increased usage from a pipe break or leak with the submission of appropriate documentation. More information can be found here.
Tax Filing Date Moved to June 15
The Internal Revenue Service has moved the tax-filing and payment deadline for individuals and businesses in Texas to June 15 because of damage across the state caused by the severe winter storms.The extension applies to a variety of filing deadlines that fell after Feb. 11, including those for 2020 business returns, originally March 15, and quarterly payroll and excise tax returns, normally April 30. More information about the change can be found here.
TexFest Celebration in City of Carrollton
Carrollton’s annual TexFest celebration in Historic Downtown Carrollton will still be filled with craft beer, amazing food, local music artists, and more. Four sessions are available with a maximum capacity of 100 attendees per session. While entry to TEXFest is free, walk-up attendance will be on a first-come, first-served basis until the 100 person capacity per session is reached. Those who would like to guarantee admission can pre-purchase a ticket for $6 (includes souvenir beer glass!). More information can be found here.
DART 2021 Student Art Competition
DART is now accepting entries for the 2021 DART Student Art Contest. The contest provides area students the opportunity to showcase their artistic talents to help promote the use of public transport. This year’s contest theme, “Everyday Heroes Ride DART”, gives students a chance to honor hometown heroes that have kept our community going during the pandemic. All students (Kindergarten – High School) are eligible to participate and may submit their entries either online or via mail. The deadline for entry submission is Tuesday, March 23, 2021. One Best of Show winner will be selected from all K-12 entries and will have his or her artwork featured on DART buses and will receive a $1,000 cash prize from Dallas Contemporary. More information about the contest and applying can be found here.