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:

    • 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 that 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.

    • Requesting the USDA to allow flexibility in school nutrition programs to allow students access to the food supports they need year-round​.

    • Asking DSHS to prioritize school employees, food service workers, and grocery store employees for eligibility for the COVID-19 vaccine

    • Requesting that TEA allow students and families to request to opt-out of the 2020-2021 STAAR Test

    • "Representative Talarico partnered with the Williamson County delegation—Rep. Bucy, Rep. Wilson, and Senator Schwertner—to request the approval of additional vaccine hub locations for Williamson County, paving the wave for increased access to COVID-19 vaccines for residents of Williamson County"

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

  • 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.

  • Because new strains of the virus have been shown to spread more quickly and easily, consider wearing two masks (a surgical mask with a cloth mask over it) when in population-dense areas to protect yourself and others more effectively.

As per Governor Greg Abbott’s Executive Order regulating businesses, restaurants, and similar establishments, Williamson County currently is allowed to maintain occupancy of up to 75% and allow elective surgeries to be performed. 

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. You can also sign up for an appointment with Family Health Services in WilCo here.

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.

Can I access antibody therapy?

 

The US Department of Health and Human Services has created a national map that displays locations that have received shipments of monoclonal antibody therapeutics under the U.S. Food and Drug Administration Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) authority. You can find that map here.

 

Please talk to your primary care physician before taking any new medications or treatments.

 


Who is eligible to get the 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 is initially allocating vaccine distribution to groups in the 1A (front-line health care workers and residents of long-term care facilities) and 1B (those age 65 and older or with high-risk medical conditions) populations. 

When can I get the vaccine if I’m not in 1A or 1B?
 
At this time, we don’t know who will be prioritized for the next round of eligibility, or when that will be. The state will likely announce this information in the coming weeks.

Please remember to be patient. The 1A and 1B populations are very large, and Texans who do not qualify for one of those criteria may not be able to get the vaccine until the spring or summer of 2021.

How do eligible Texans sign up for the vaccine?


You can find information that the Williamson County Cities and Health District have published on registering for the COVID-19 vaccines here. You are not required to get the vaccine in the county of your residency, so you might consider looking at the waitlist options for other counties in Texas as well.

 

Our office is aware of the frustrations that many Texans are experiencing while they sit on long waitlists for the vaccine. Based on briefings from the Department of State Health Services, we should see increases in vaccine capacity over time, but we recognize that the problems with distribution haven’t just been the limited number of vaccines but also issues with the decentralized nature of getting vaccines to Texans. This is ultimately a failure of federal leadership and, though that doesn’t excuse the state’s role, we need to double our efforts to elect leaders who support science and hire competent individuals for government efforts like these.
 
Our office is going to continue putting pressure on local, state, and federal leadership to prioritize mass inoculations for Texans. But for now, please try to be patient. There is a higher demand for the COVID-19 vaccine than supply is available and it will take a while for the state to ensure that everyone who wants a vaccine is able to get one.

 


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 has expired?


​Texas is not authorized to pay any federally funded pandemic-related unemployment claim benefits now that we’ve passed the December 26, 2020 deadline.

This means that TWC can no longer pay benefits on any pandemic-related claim. 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?

According to the Texas Workforce Commission, employees who voluntarily self-quarantine should be treated the same way that any other employee would be treated who report absences due to medical conditions, i.e., apply the company's normal medical absence policy.


Any employees told to stay home for such reasons would be able to use available paid medical leave under whatever paid leave policy the company has.


Because this would be considered paid medical leave, employees would not be considered "unemployed" under TWC laws and, therefore, would not be eligible for unemployment benefits.
If employees are on unpaid leave, they could be considered unemployed if they are out long enough to satisfy the test for either partial or total unemployment (for those definitions, see the TWC’s book Especially for Texas Employers online).


Any claimant who is able to file a claim for unemployment benefits must meet the eligibility requirements in order to actually receive benefits. Most notably, the claimant must be medically able to work and be available and actively searching for full-time work.


If a business closes because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the employer needs to inform TWC and they will protect their account from charge. To inform TWC, you can call their Tele-Center at the employer-only contact number: 866-274-1722


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?

Schools across Texas are continuing, and in some cases expanding, food assistance programs for students. 

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.

 

How are schools functioning in this pandemic?

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.

The best way to find school-specific information is by looking at the website of your local school school district for regular updates.

 


My license has expired, can I renew it now?

The Texas Department of Public Safety recently issued a 60-day notice stating that the COVID-related waiver on expiration dates for driver licenses (DLs) and identification cards (IDs) will end on April 14, 2021. Therefore, DPS urges customers to make an appointment or renew online


To assist customers with expired licenses who are unable to schedule an appointment prior to the April 14 deadline, DPS has implemented a new procedure. If a customer has a renewal appointment that falls after the deadline, they will be able to request a temporary driving permit that will be valid until their appointment date. For additional details on the new procedure, please visit the DPS website.​

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. This waiver will end on April 14, 2021

 

Before renewing your registration, you will need to obtain a passing vehicle inspection at the state vehicle inspection station of your choice, unless your vehicle is exempt from inspection requirements

Three ways to renew your vehicle registration:

  1. Visit www.TxDMV.gov/register or www.Texas.gov. This is the quickest and least expensive way to renew. Save $1 if you renew online. Online renewal is available up to nine months past your registration expiration date.

  2. Mail: Return the bottom portion of your registration renewal form, payment and other required information to your county tax assessor-collector.

In Person: Visit the office of your county tax assessor-collector. In many counties, in-person renewal is also available at other locations, such as certain grocery stores. Contact your county tax office to check hours and locations.​
 


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