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 and only leave for essentials.
Some folks can’t stay home, so call your member of congress and demand they take swift action to provide a universal basic income, 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.
On March 19, Governor Greg Abbott issued an executive order that prohibits any gatherings of more than 10 people, limits visits to nursing homes and assisted living centers (with the exception of health care professionals), closes all schools and gyms, and limits bars and restaurants to drive-thru or take-out service. Rep. Talarico along with medical health experts have called for greater restrictions to non-essential social interaction in order to slow the spread of the virus. You can find more information on these regulations 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 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 get your home ready for COVID-19 here.
What are 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.
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?
Austin Public Health has said there are currently 11 testing centers, and location information will be given to patients referred by doctors. This list includes the latest information that we have available, but more sites may be added with time. Tests coordinated through APH will be free of charge, but tests administered through private labs will likely have a cost. Williamson County has released a similar statement. If you are experiencing symptoms, first see your healthcare provider and they will refer you to a testing center if necessary. For more information on providers and televisits in Williamson County see here.
Baylor Scott & White, drive-thru testing sites at 425 University Blvd, Round Rock, TX 78665 and 5251 West US Highway 290 Austin, TX 78735. You must complete an online questionnaire and e-visit consultation first. Create an account here. Baylor S&W has released a statement saying that no patient deemed appropriate for a COVID-19 test will be denied the test regardless of their ability to pay.
Ascension Seton, drive-thru testing sites that do not require leaving the car. They have created a COVID-19 hotline which is available from 6 a.m. through midnight and staffed by triage nurses. The hotline can be reached at 1-833-919-1680.
UT Health Austin / UT Dell Medical, drive-thru testing sites. UT Health Austin COVID-19 (coronavirus) drive-through testing focuses on health care workers, patients who are known contacts of people who tested positive for COVID-19 through a test performed by UT Health Austin, and high-risk individuals who are referred to us by Austin Public Health and our partners in the Ascension/Seton system.
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.
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.
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?
The Texas Education Agency (TEA) will be providing food pickups for students at over 1,000 food sites across the state. Find the nearest food site to you here.
To find out if your student qualifies for food assistance through this program, check out TEA’s Child Nutrition Program Meal Service During COVID-19 Outbreak FAQ.
Will the State of Texas still require students to pass STAAR or other end-of-course examinations to advance to the next grade level?
No. All STAAR and end-of-course exams have been canceled.
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 along with a Q & A on special education during the COVID-19 crisis can be found here and further resources on special education and other special populations here.
I need to renew my Drivers License but the Department of Public Safety (DPS) is closed, what do I do?
To support social distancing, Gov. Abbott has temporarily waived Drivers License expirations. According to the office of the Governor, “this suspension will be in effect until 60 days after the DPS provides further public notice that normal Driver License operations have resumed.”
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?
All housing evictions will be suspended through April 19, 2020, unless there is some threat of criminal activity or physical harm present.
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.