P.O. Box 12068, State Capitol
Austin, Texas 78711
Tel. (512) 463-0112
Governor Abbott issued a new series of COVID-19 executive orders this week, closing schools through May 3rd and continuing social distancing policies through April 30. Essential businesses such as grocery stores and health care providers will remain open, and the public is asked to help slow the spread of coronavirus by staying home except for essential activities and services (https://gov.texas.gov/news/post/governor-abbott-issues-executive-order-implements-statewide-essential-services-and-activities-protocols). Medical experts say this is what we need to do to protect our fellow Texans.
Also this week, Congress passed the CARES Act -- a $2 trillion aid package to help support states, businesses, and individuals impacted by the pandemic. This act provides for tax relief up to $1,200 per individual with an additional $500 per child 16 or under. Those receiving unemployment benefits will be eligible for an additional $600 per week. It includes $100 billion for hospitals and $150 billion for states, with $11.2 billion on the way to Texas!
Several state agencies have stepped up their efforts to help Texans. The Health and Human Services Commission launched (https://hhs.texas.gov/about-hhs/communications-events/news/2020/03/hhs-launches-statewide-covid-19-mental-health-support-line) a Statewide COVID-19 Mental Health Support Line: (833) 986-1919. The Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs is offering financial housing assistance (https://gov.texas.gov/news/post/governor-abbott-tdhca-take-initial-action-to-secure-financial-housing-assistance) for Texans experiencing economic hardships. The National Guard general support units are assisting with drive-through testing sites and bolstering healthcare infrastructure throughout the state.
Veteran services are continuing virtually, and those who depend on medications will still be able to receive them in the mail. The VA asks veterans who think they may have COVID-19 to contact their local VA before going to a clinic or ER. Information about education benefits can be found at www.tvc.texas.gov. The Veterans Crisis Line is still open 24/7 and can be reached by dialing 1-800-273-8255.
On the local level, Tarrant County parents who work for essential businesses now have a search tool for locating licensed childcare options: find.bestplace4kids.com/families. Denton County created an interactive website with information about coronavirus cases in our community: https://gis-covid19-dentoncounty.hub.arcgis.com/pages/covid-19cases.
I continue to marvel at the acts of kindness we are seeing throughout this crisis. With that in mind, Texas announced the new Comfort Food Care Package (CFCP) (https://gov.texas.gov/news/post/governor-abbott-announces-comfort-food-care-packages-for-texas-youth-and-families) program. The initiative empowers participating restaurants to offer meals to be purchased on behalf of families and youth in need -- which helps our fellow Texans and our restaurants. More measures taken in response to COVID-19 can be found at the Governor's website (https://gov.texas.gov/news).
Please join me in minimizing the impact of COVID-19 by social distancing. We will get through this together! Stay safe!
Senator Jane Nelson