COVID-19 Support Page

To help you and your family during this crisis, Representative Talarico's office consolidated a list of resources and frequently asked questions. 

How We Are Helping:

  • Rep. Talarico authored a letter – signed by 62 of his Democratic and Republican colleagues – asking Governor Abbott for emergency funding, transparent reporting, and unive rsal testing for long-term care facilities—including nursing homes, state-supported living centers, and group homes. For more info click here.

  • Rep. Talarico announced he is donating his entire legislative pay for the duration of this crisis to Shepherd's Heart Food Pantry, a local food bank in Taylor, TX. Click here for more information.

  • Rep. Talarico has worked with his colleagues on the following efforts:

    • Asking the courts to temporarily halt eviction and foreclosure proceedings.

    • Requesting the Governor issue a statewide stay-at-home order (mid-March).

    • Asking the Comptroller to suspend the collection of sales taxes from bars and restaurants. 

    • Requesting an immediate audit of all migrant detention facilities in Texas. 

    • Requesting the Governor allows time-sensitive and critical women’s reproductive healthcare, including abortions.

    • Asking the Texas Supreme Court to temporarily halt all eviction and foreclosure procedures. 

    • Requesting TEA Commissioner Morath fully reimburse school districts for coronavirus related expenses and allow districts the ability to develop and fully implement policies which address the needs of their local communities.

    • Asking the Governor to support state workers by allowing for expanded remote work opportunities, increasing investment in hiring and training, provide on-site medical care to clients and staff at State Supported Living Centers, Health Science Centers, and State Hospitals, and increase the transparent sharing of information.

    • Ensuring that the Texas Workforce Commission will maintain the 25% enhanced subsidy reimbursement rate for childcare providers throughout the COVID pandemic.

    • Requesting that the Governor direct the necessary funds to ensure that voting is accessible and safe to all Texans.

    • Asking the Governor to allow local school districts ability to determine how and when their schools reopen to in-person instruction.

    • Requesting that the Texas Workforce Commission temporarily waive unemployment certifications, also known as manual payment requests.

    • Asking Governor Abbott to temporarily allow Texas distillers to sell more than two bottles per person within 30 days at their distilleries.

    • Asking the Governor to mandate testing of all residents and staff at Assisted Living Facilities with a positive COVID-19 case.

    • Request the USDA to allow flexibility in school nutritional programs to allow students access to the food supports they need year-round​

  • Rep. Talarico and his entire legislative staff have volunteered with the Texas Workforce Commission to help speed up the process for Texans applying for unemployment benefits. 

  • Rep. Talarico personally donated to the Taylor "All-In COVID-19 Relief Fund" to help support small businesses in Taylor, TX. 

  • Rep. Talarico delivered 500 masks to Trinity Care Center, a nursing home in Round Rock that is experiencing a COVID-19 outbreak. 

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Frequently Asked Questions

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

What should I be doing during this COVID-19 crisis? 

You might be hearing inconsistent instructions from federal and state leaders. So we’ll put it simply:

  • If you’re sick, stay home and call the doctor if it gets severe.

  • If you’re not sick, stay home as much as you possibly can to protect yourself and others by limiting the spread of disease.

  • Wear a mask whenever you’re out in public and stay six feet away from others as often as possible

On October 7, Governor Greg Abbott issued an Executive Order to open bars and similar establishments at up to 50% capacity in conjunction with county officials. In hospital regions with low COVID-19 hospitalizations, County Judges are able to opt their county into opening bars beginning October 14th, provided they assist in enforcing health protocols. The Governor's Executive Order also increases the occupancy levels for all business establishments other than bars to 75%.  

On July 2nd, Governor Abbott issued an executive order to mandate that all Texans must wear a face-covering over the nose and mouth in public spaces.


Some folks can’t stay home, so call your Member of Congress and demand they take swift action to provide income relief, paid sick leave, and protection for our healthcare workers.

 

What is social distancing and why is it important?
 

Public health officials have strongly recommended decreasing interaction with others and staying home as much as possible, also known as social distancing, to prevent the spread of COVID-19 (Coronavirus). Practicing social distancing doesn’t mean you cannot go get necessary groceries, it simply means do not go shopping more than necessary, do not go visit friends, and definitely do not travel.


In early March, Rep. Talarico, along with medical health experts, called for greater restrictions to non-essential social interaction in order to slow the spread of the virus and quicken our economic recovery. See more on why here.

 


How can I protect myself and my family from COVID-19 (Coronavirus)?


In addition to limiting your exposure to other people as much as you can, you can best prevent the spread of COVID-19 by practicing good hygiene habits. The Department of State Health Services encourages Texans to frequently wash their hands with warm water and soap for at least 20 seconds and encourage others to do the same. If no soap and water are available, use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. 


Additionally, please cover any coughs and sneezes with a tissue, and then throw the tissue away. Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands as much as you can, and frequently disinfect surfaces, buttons, handles, knobs, and other places touched often. Lastly, avoid close contact with people who are sick.
You can find more information on how to protect your home from COVID-19 here.


What are the symptoms of COVID-19?


The most typical symptoms of COVID-19 are those associated with a respiratory illness, such as fever, cough, and shortness of breath as well as symptoms such as loss of taste and smell, nausea, and head or body aches.


You can find a complete list of symptoms and a Coronavirus Self-Checker here.

 


What do I do if I think I might have COVID-19?


The first thing to do is to call your doctor. Your doctor will go over your symptoms with you and recommend whether or not getting tested is appropriate for your situation. If you need assistance finding a doctor or accessing medical care in your community, call the Department of Health and Human Services at 2‑1‑1 and they can direct you to low- or no-cost providers in your area.

 


Where can I get tested for COVID-19?


If you are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms, first see your healthcare provider and they will refer you to a testing center if necessary. If your doctor recommends a COVID-19 test or you have been exposed to someone with COVID-19, you can find information on how and where to get tested in Austin here. Williamson County has released similar information regarding testing here.

 

Can I access antibody therapy?

 

As of November 13, the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) is allocating an initial shipment of bamlanivimab, the Eli Lilly & Company monoclonal antibody therapy, to be distributed as early as next week to acute care hospitals across every geographic region of the state. 

 

DSHS will allocate this initial distribution of bamlanivimab based on three criteria: new confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the community, new lab-confirmed COVID-19 admissions to hospitals, and total lab-confirmed COVID-19 patients in hospitals.

 

Bamlanivimab is for outpatient use in people who have tested positive for COVID-19 and are at increased risk of severe disease. It has been shown to prevent hospitalizations in some patients when used before they become very sick.

 

How can I get a vaccine?

 

Governor Greg Abbott and the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) today announced the guiding principles for Texas' COVID-19 vaccine allocation process, which will serve as a foundation for the state's initial distribution for COVID-19 vaccines expected as early as next month. These principles have been established by the Expert Vaccine Allocation Panel (EVAP), created by DSHS to make recommendations on vaccine allocation decisions, including identifying groups that should be vaccinated first to provide the most protection to vulnerable populations and critical state resources.  

 

Texas will initially allocate vaccine distribution based on efforts to protect healthcare workers, protect frontline workers, serve vulnerable populations, mitigate health inequities, and consider data-driven allocation, geographic diversity, and a committment to transparency. Health care workers likely to provide direct care for COVID-19 patients and other vulnerable residents to be the first group to receive the vaccine.

What do I do if I’m sick but not sick enough to go to a hospital?


That is a great question! Because hospitals are already at such a high capacity, those who are well enough to stay home are highly encouraged to do so. If you are sick, or are caring for someone who is sick at home, check out this guide on how to best treat COVID-19 at home.

 


How can I find out more information on available COVID-19 related services?


All Texans can reach the State of Texas’s Health and Human Service’s COVID-19 hotline by dialing 2-1-1 and selecting option 6 to receive information on COVID-19 social services, such as where to get tested, available community clinics, unemployment benefits, and more! 

 


What do I do if my employment is impacted by COVID-19?

Gov. Abbott has waived the usual “waiting week” requirement for unemployment benefits. According to the Texas Workforce Commission, the waiting week is “the first payable week of an individual’s claim for Unemployment Benefits”. This means that Texans who lost their employment during the COVID-19 crisis can receive support sooner rather than later.

If you recently lost your job, you can file for unemployment benefits here or by calling 1-800-939-6631, Monday-Friday 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Central Time Zone. The Texas Workforce Commission is working as diligently as they can to serve Texans during this difficult time. Unfortunately, the large amount of need right now means that unemployment claims may be processed more slowly than normal. The TWC understands the hardship that many Texans are facing getting in contact with their team so they are temporarily providing unemployment benefits starting from the date of lost employment, not from the date that the claimant’s application is approved. If you have any questions about how to file online or over the phone, check out TWC's tutorial here

If you have questions about how much you might be able to expect to receive in benefits, you can find the Texas Workforce's Commission Unemployment Benefits estimator here. If you are unsure about whether or not you are eligible, we would encourage you to review the TWC’s unemployment eligibility information here.

What happens when the CARES Act funding expires?

Texas is not authorized to pay any federally funded pandemic-related unemployment claim benefits after 39 weeks from the date your claim started or after December 26, 2020, whichever comes first.

TWC cannot pay benefits on any pandemic-related claim after this date. Because all federal pandemic programs are expiring at the same time, you may not be eligible for any additional benefits under any claim program. You cannot appeal this deadline.

The expiration date for this pandemic unemployment benefits program was set under the terms of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act), and cannot be changed without additional congressional action.


 

What if I'm afraid to go to work?

The Texas Workforce Commission (TWC) has announced new guidelines including reasons that individuals may qualify for unemployment benefits while refusing suitable work during the COVID-19 crisis. Under these guidelines, Texans can receive unemployment benefits throughout the duration of the COVID-19 crisis.

 

We want to clarify that each unemployment insurance claim is currently evaluated on an individual basis, but, because of the COVID-19 emergency, the following are reasons that benefits would be granted if the individual refused suitable work.

Acceptable reasons for refusal:

 

  • At High Risk: People 65 years or older are at a higher risk for getting very sick from COVID-19.

  • Household member at high risk: People 65 years or older are at a higher risk of getting very sick from COVID-19.

  • Diagnosed with COVID: The individual has tested positive for COVID-19 by a source authorized by the State of Texas and is not recovered.

  • Family member with COVID: Anybody in the household has tested positive for COVID-19 by a source authorized by the State of Texas and is not recovered and 14 days have not yet passed.

  • Quarantined: Individual is currently in 14-day quarantine due to close contact exposure to COVID-19.

  • Child care: Child’s school or daycare closed and no alternatives are available.


Any other situation will be subject to a case by case review by TWC based on individual circumstances. You can find more information here.


What resources are available to me if my business was impacted by COVID-19?


The State of Texas will now provide Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL). EIDLs provide low-interest loans to qualifying businesses across the state. If you believe your small business might be eligible for a small business EIDL, find out more information and apply for assistance here.


Additionally, Gov. Abbott is now allowing restaurants to deliver alcoholic beverages to customers who also order food to go and is allowing retailers to buy back excess inventory that restaurants may have in order to sell them back to those in need, including hospitals. You can find more information on these waivers here.

In addition to the EIDLs, businesses can seek resources from the federal Small Business Administration (SBA). You can read more about the loans and other resources offered by the SBA here.

If you have any other questions about COVID-19 resources for employers, you can find more information here.

 


What do I do if my child, or a child I know, relies on food assistance provided by schools in my community?

Some school districts, including Round Rock ISD, are continuing food distribution services for free of charge for all students. Taylor ISD students participating in remote learning can find information on pre-ordering meals for pickup here.

To find out if your student qualifies for food assistance, check out TEA’s Child Nutrition Program Meal Service During COVID-19 Outbreak FAQ.


Will Special Education students continue to receive support services?

The Texas Education Agency (TEA) is working with local school districts to determine how to best provide support services for students with disabilities without spreading COVID-19. The most up-to-date information on special education and resources for special education and other special populations during the COVID-19 crisis here.

 

 

Will schools be reopening in the fall?

 

The Texas Education Agency (TEA) has released a guide for school districts to use when crafting their plans on how to reopen schools in the fall. 


On November 18, Governor Greg Abbott announced a $420 million reimbursement program to cover costs incurred by Texas public schools that purchased Wi-Fi hotspots and/or eLearning devices so students could learn remotely during the COVID-19 pandemic. The program, jointly administered by the Texas Education Agency (TEA) and the Texas Division of Emergency Management (TDEM) using federal CARES Act dollars, will reimburse districts for costs incurred since the 2019-20 school year if the district locally purchased eLearning devices and/or WiFi hotspots. This reimbursement program builds on the progress made by Operation Connectivity, announced by Governor Abbott in May as an initiative to close the digital divide in Texas.

 


I need to renew my Drivers License but the Department of Public Safety (DPS) is closed, what do I do?

The Department has resumed all in-office driver's license (DL) and identification (ID) card services by appointment only. These services include renewal transactions.

 

To minimize the need to visit your local driver license office, many Texas DL and ID holders are eligible to conduct their renewal, address change, or replacement transaction online by visiting Texas.gov.

Is the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) still enforcing normal regulations during this COVID-19 Crisis?

Gov. Abbott has temporarily suspended all penalties associated with failure to timely title or register a vehicle, or renew a parking placard for persons with disabilities.

You can find more information on these suspensions here.

 


Will my housing be affected by the COVID-19 crisis?

 

In October, CDC Director Dr. Robert Redfield signed a declaration determining that the evictions of tenants could be detrimental to public health control measures to slow the spread of SARS-Cov-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. The Order temporarily halts residential evictions of covered persons for nonpayment of rent during

September 4, 2020, through December 31, 2020. This means that a landlord, owner of a residential property, or other person with a legal right to pursue an eviction or a possessory action cannot evict for nonpayment of rent any covered person from any residential property in any U.S. state or U.S. territory where the Order applies.

 


Who should I reach out to if I’m a constituent of House District 52 and I need help?


Our team is diligently working to help provide constituents with the resources they need during this crisis. If there are any questions we didn't cover, or if you need additional assistance, please contact our office at District52.Talarico@house.texas.gov

 
 
 
 
 
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Pol. Adv. paid for by James Talarico Campaign