4/3: Weekly COVID-19 update

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.

Updated Dallas County Shelter-In-Place Order

Judge Clay Jenkins issued the current Shelter-In-Place order for Dallas from March 23 to April 3. The order will now be extended to go through May 20. We expect the official order to come out later today. To see the latest on Dallas County COVID-19 information or updates you can visit: https://www.dallascounty.org/covid-19/

Post-Travel Mandatory Quarantines

On March 26 and March 30, Gov. Abbott issued several self-quarantine edicts for travelers returning from certain locations within the United States:

  • All road travelers from Louisiana must self-quarantine for 14 days after they arrive.
  • All air travelers from California; Louisiana; Washington; Atlanta, Georgia; Chicago, Illinois; Detroit, Michigan; and Miami, Florida must for 14 days after they arrive.
  • All air travelers from the tri-state area near New York City and from New Orleans to self-quarantine for 14 days after they arrive.

The full order can be found here.

CARES Act

On March 27, 2020, Congress passed the CARES Act, a $2 trillion stimulus package that will battle the adverse effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on the nation. The bill focuses on providing aids for families, businesses, and for federal, state and local public health agencies in their response to the pandemic.

Specifically, the bill expands unemployment benefits for an additional 13 weeks, and provides temporary unemployment compensation of $600 per week, which is in addition to and the same time as regular state and federal UI benefits. 

It also creates direct payments of up to $1,200 for individual taxpayers and $500 for each dependent child under 17, phased out when incomes exceed $75,000 for individuals and $150,000 for couples filing jointly. Anyone making over $99,000 would not get a payment ($198,000 for couples). Money is expected to go out by April 6th.

For businesses, it creates a $500 billion lending fund for businesses, cities and states, including $29 billion for loans to U.S. airlines and related businesses. Stock buybacks and executive compensation would be restricted. The CARES Act also provide $349 billion in low-interest small business loans that can be partially forgiven.

Unemployment Due to COVID-19

The Texas Workforce Commission (TWC) is the state agency that oversees the state’s unemployment benefits. The Texas Unemployment Insurance (UI) program pays benefits to those individuals who lost their jobs through no fault of their own. TWC determines benefit eligibility based on past wages, why someone lost their job, and ongoing eligibility requirements. If your employment has been affected by COVID-19, you can apply for benefits either online at any time here or by calling TWC’s Tele-Center at 800-939-6631 from 8am–6pm CT Monday through Friday.

TWC will be waiving work search requirements for all claimants and the waiting week for those claimants affected by COVID-19. However, Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) may be available at this time.

Financial Housing Assistance Updates

The Governor has waived statutes relating to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) HOME Investments Partnership program. This will allow Texas greater flexibility to use program funds to help certain Texans pay their rent. 

In addition, TDHCA has sent a letter to HUD requesting federal waivers to allow greater flexibility to Texas to reprogram these funds for that purpose. If these waivers are granted, Texas will reprogram these funds to provide financial housing assistance to certain Texans enduring economic hardships related to COVID-19.

Youth and Family Comfort Food Care Packages

Governor Greg Abbott today announced the Comfort Food Care Package (CFCP) program to provide meals for at-risk youth and families in communities across Texas as the state responds to COVID-19. Participating restaurants will offer packages for patrons to purchase on behalf of families and youth in need. Each care package contains enough food to feed a family of 5 to 6 and will be delivered to recipients’ homes.

  1. Participating restaurants list CFCPs on their online ordering system for customers to purchase on behalf of at-risk families and youth in the community. 
  2. Customers add CFCPs to their orders and purchase.
  3. Family and Youth Success Programs identify families and shelters who have the most need and work with participating restaurants and Favor to get the meals delivered. 

Families interested in utilizing the CFCP program should contact their local Family and Youth Success Program for more information. Restaurants interested in participating in the program can sign up on the Texas Restaurant Association website.

3/27: Weekly COVID-19 update

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.

Shelter-in-place: Stay Home Stay Safe

On Tuesday, March 24, Dallas County’s Judge Clay Jenkins amended the latest order in response to COVID-19 to a ‘Shelter-In-Place’ order for the entire county through April 3. This order requires all individuals currently living within Dallas County to shelter at their place of residence. All businesses deemed ‘essential’ are able to remain open and all ‘non-essential’ businesses are required to cease all activities at facilities. To see the order in it’s entirety, click here.
For Frequently Asked Questions on the order, click here.

Drive-thru sites

Two new COVID-19 drive-thru testing sites open over the weekend in Dallas. These sites are open to all individuals presenting the following symptoms:

  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath
  • Must show a temperature of 99.6 or higher

Currently the sites are open to all ages, but depending on the availability of tests the City of Dallas could add restrictions to who can be tested. To keep up with the latest information on criteria, visit the Dallas County Health & Human Services’’ website: https://www.dallascounty.org/covid-19/testing-locations.php 

Testing Locations:

  • American Airlines Center, Parking Lot E: 2500 Victory Boulevard, Dallas, TX 75219
  • The Ellis Davis Field House: 9191 South Polk Street, Dallas, TX 75232

Times:

  • Both sites operate from 8 am to 8 pm, or until the test limit is reached.

Grant for Senior Citizen Meals

This week Texas received a $16.2 million grant from the Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) Administration for Community Living (ACL) to help communities provide meals for older adults.

The grant was part of a $250 million dollar outlay authorized by the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, signed into law on March 18. Originally created by the Older Americans Act (OAA) of 1965, these programs provide meals to more than 2.4 million older adults nationwide each year, both through home delivery and in places like community centers.

This grant will be critical to ensure that programs serving our elderly Texans have the additional resources to handle increased need during this public health crisis. Texas will receive its proportional grant this week for further distribution to local meal providers.

Older adults who need assistance can contact the Eldercare Locator to find services available in their community. The Eldercare Locator can be reached at 1-800-677-1116 or https://eldercare.acl.gov/ 

Unemployment Due to COVID-19

The Texas Workforce Commission (TWC) is the state agency that oversees the state’s unemployment benefits. The Texas Unemployment Insurance (UI) program pays benefits to those individuals who lost their jobs through no fault of their own. TWC determines benefit eligibility based on past wages, why someone lost their job, and ongoing eligibility requirements. If your employment has been affected by COVID-19, you can apply for benefits either online at any time here or by calling TWC’s Tele-Center at 800-939-6631 from 8 am – 6  pm CT Monday through Friday. 

TWC will be waiving work search requirements for all claimants and the waiting week for those claimants affected by COVID-19. However, Extended Benefits (EB) and Disaster Unemployment Assistance (DUA) are NOT available at this time.

Personal Protective Equipment

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) is needed now more than ever for our first responders and healthcare workers. To aid in this effort, the governor announced the creation of a temporary Supply Chain Strike Force. The Supply Chain Strike Force will be tasked with guiding collaboration between the public and private sectors to ensure health care facilities have the supplies and resources they need to respond to COVID-19. In addition to working with the federal government and businesses to secure necessary personal protective equipment, the team will work to ensure day-to-day resources (including food) are available for Texas’ medical personnel, first responders and those who have contracted COVID-19.

An online portal run by the Supply Chain Strike Force to streamline the process and validation of leads for more supplies was also announced this week. The portal, accessible through www.texas.gov , will serve as an intake process for those wanting to provide valid leads on PPE and donations. The portal also serves as a portal for those wanting to donate supplies, services, or your time—including medical professionals and nurses looking to volunteer.

To help on a local level, Dallas County created its own website site to help connect the county’s first responders and healthcare workers with critical resources. Click here to access.

3/20: Weekly COVID-19 update

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.

Governor Abbott’s executive order

Governor Abbott is temporarily closing schools, restaurant dining areas, gyms and bars statewide. The order is effective early Saturday morning and continues until April 3rd.

Read his entire executive order here by clicking here.

MealFinder Map

On Friday, March 20th, TEA updated https://txschools.gov/ to include the MealFinder Map, which Texans can utilize to see where and when their local education agency is providing free meals.

Additionally, the TEA has put together a list of resources for students and parents that can be accessed by clicking here.

IRS Tax Payment Extension

The Internal Revenue Service has extended individual and non-corporate taxpayers a 90 day deferral for all tax filings due by April 15th, 2020. Tax Day for 2020 will be July 15.

Source: https://home.treasury.gov/news/press-releases/sm948

Unemployment

If your employment has been affected by the coronavirus (COVID-19), you can now apply for benefits with the Texas Workforce Commission. Individuals can apply either online at any time using Unemployment Benefits Services or by calling TWC’s Tele-Center at 800-939-6631 from 8 am – 6 pm Central Time Monday through Friday. You can find more information here by clicking here.

The Texas Workforce Commission recommended, and the Governor approved, suspending the statutory waiting period for those impacted by COVID-19 and applying for unemployment benefits. The suspension will be in effect until terminated by the Office of the Governor, or on the date the March 13th disaster declaration expires – whichever occurs first.

Disaster Loans from U.S. Small Business Administration

The governor requested, and was granted, designation from the Small Business Administration (SBA) Economic Injury Disaster Declaration in order to access the Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) program for the entire state of Texas. The SBA will provide long-term, low-interest loans to qualifying businesses across the state.

All small businesses who believe they may be eligible for an SBA EIDL should visit the Texas Division of Emergency Management (TDEM) website. They will be directed to the SBA website where they can apply for assistance. Click here to access.

Telemedicine

Certain regulations for telemedicine care in Texas were waived. The governor’s suspensions and emergency rule will work together to allow telemedicine visits for patients with state-regulated plans to be paid the same as in-office visits for insurance purposes. These actions build upon waivers the Governor issued last week of portions in the Occupations Code to expand provider flexibility in providing medical services over the phone.

Doctors will be eligible for payment from insurance plans regulated by TDI for medical visits they conduct over the phone instead of in-person at the same rate they would receive for in-person visits. Medical providers seeking guidance on the impact of the new rule can expect guidance from the Texas Medical Board to be issued in the coming days, including administrative guidance for billing to ensure that claims are processed smoothly.

Insurers seeking guidance on implementation of the emergency rule should contact TDI or visit their webpage for more information. Click here to access.

Driver Licenses

The Department of Public Safety (DPS) will temporarily waive expiration dates for Driver Licenses, Commercial Driver Licenses, and other identification forms. This suspension will be in effect until 60 days after the DPS provides further public notice that normal Driver License operations have resumed.

May 2nd elections

Governor Greg Abbott issued a proclamation suspending provisions of the Texas Election Code to allow political subdivisions to postpone their 2020 local elections. This means local governments now have the ability to postpone their May 2, 2020 elections until November 3, 2020.

May 26th elections

Governor Greg Abbott issued a proclamation suspending provisions of the Texas Election Code to postpone the runoff primary election date until July 14, 2020.

Texas Tribune: The most competitive races in Texas’ midterm elections

Read more at TexasTribune.com

We just finished a remarkably busy round of early voting, and Texans have just one more day — tomorrow — to cast ballots for candidates in 14 statewide offices, 36 congressional seats, seven of 15 seats on the State Board of Education, 15 of the 31 seats in the Texas Senate and 150 seats in the Texas House — and that’s before you get to local races and referenda lower on the ballot.

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