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.

Texas COVID-19 Disaster Declaration Extension

On May 12, 2020, Governor Greg Abbott issued a proclamation extending his Disaster Declaration for all Texas counties in response to COVID-19. Originally issued on March 13, the Disaster Declaration provides the state a number of resources to effectively serve Texans as the Lone Star State continues to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. You can view the full statement here.

Dallas County Reopening Guide

Dallas County has released a guide detailing the health guidelines and risk assessment during the COVID-19 pandemic. The guide includes COVID transmission risk assessments for various daily activities and guidelines for how to reopen safely. The full guide can be found here. The city has also released a daily risk level guide that can be found here.

City of Dallas Mobile Testing

The City of Dallas has announced a new mobile testing service to provide COVID-19 testing specifically to residents in underserved communities without transportation. To be eligible for COVID-19 Mobile Testing, residents must: 

  • Reside in one the following ZIP codes: 75211, 75215, 75216, 75217 or 75227.  
  • NOT have transportation and NOT have means to get to a testing site.  
  • Have at least one of the four symptoms listed below: 
  • Temperature of 99.6 or higher  
  • Cough  
  • Shortness of breath  
  • Recent direct contact with a person diagnosed with COVID-19

Testing appointments can be scheduled  between the hours of 9 a.m. and 9 p.m.  7 days a  week  by calling 1-888-601-0568.  COVID-19 mobile testing appointments will be scheduled at NO COST to eligible residents during two-hour time slots  with a maximum capacity of 60 appointments a day.  

Pandemic Food Benefits For Texas Families

The Texas Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC) will provide over $1 billion in food benefits through the federal Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer (P-EBT) program to families with children who have temporarily lost access to free or discounted school meals due to COVID-19-related school closures. P-EBT provides a one-time benefit of $285 per child, which can be used in the same way as Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) food benefits to pay for groceries.

Households with school children who received SNAP food benefits for the month of March or were recipients of free or reduced-price meals at school before the statewide school closure are eligible for P-EBT benefits. Families who were certified for the free or reduced-price school meals program after in-person instruction at schools ended due to COVID-19 are also eligible to receive the benefit.

Families with children aged 5 to 18 who received SNAP food benefits for the month of March, when school campuses first closed, will automatically receive P-EBT on their current Lone Star Card by May 22. Families who have children certified for free or reduced-price meals during the 2019-20 school year but did not receive SNAP benefits for the month of March will need to apply. Families with children who received meals at no cost to them because their schools are defined as Community Eligibility Provision or Provision II schools also need to apply. Those families will receive a notification from their school district by May 31 which will include eligibility information and how to access the application. The application will be open from June 1 to June 30, and applications will be processed in the order they are received. After completing the application, eligible families will receive benefits on a new Texas P-EBT card in the mail. For more information about the program, visit the HHS website here.

Denton County OPEN Business Grants Program

Denton County has announced a new OPEN Business Grants Program that will provide grants for businesses physically operating within Denton County. The program will be open until noon on Wednesday, May 20, 2020 and will provide up to $10,000 grants to Denton County businesses who closed the longest and have been the most negatively impacted during the COVID-19 pandemic. For-profit businesses headquartered and located in Denton County with 50 or fewer employees are eligible to apply. For more information about eligibility or to apply for a grant, visit the Denton County website here.

Statewide Operation Connectivity Initiative

Governor Greg Abbott, the Texas Education Agency (TEA), and Dallas Independent School District (DISD) have launched Operation Connectivity, a statewide initiative to deliver internet connectivity and device solutions for school districts, families, and students in Texas. This initiative aims to provide internet connectivity to hundreds of thousands of students statewide.

The statewide implementation of this initiative will be led by the Operation Connectivity Task Force. The task force will gather critical information to determine which children in the state do not have internet access and/or home devices, document best practices, identify and secure technology solutions for broadband and devices, develop actionable playbooks for districts across the state, identify funding needs and help secure resources, demonstrate “lighthouse” examples, and push for federal and state-level policies that connect more students learning at home to available technology resources.

Nursing Home Resident Testing and Facility Disinfection

Governor Greg Abbott has directed the Texas Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC), the Texas Division of Emergency Management (TDEM), and the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) to test 100% of residents and staff in Texas nursing homes. The plan will be developed and implemented based on the guidance of Vice President Mike Pence and Doctor Deborah Birx. 

The Texas National Guard has activated Facilities Disinfection Teams to support Texans in nursing homes and to help limit the spread of COVID-19. These Facilities Disinfection Teams, formed in coordination with Texas Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC), provide a major boost to protecting Texans and limiting the spread of COVID-19. Six teams have been deployed across the state thus far.

Funding for Family and Domestic Violence Prevention Services

Texas Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC) has received more than $3 million in federal funding to provide shelter and services to survivors of family and domestic violence during the COVID-19 pandemic. This federal funding will support the 78 HHSC-funded local family violence centers that provide survivors with immediate shelter, supportive services, and access to community-based programs. The grant will also support a wide range of supportive services, including: temporary 24-hour shelter, counseling, mobile advocacy, telehealth, peer support, rental assistance, and relocation expenses. The funding also assists family violence centers to cover the costs of providing remote services to those in need.

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