HD113 (COVID-19) Update | The Fight for Testing as Governor Opens Texas | Return to Work or Stay Safe?

The Fight for Testing as Governor Opens Texas

Governor Abbott announced this week that he would allow his stay at home order to expire on Thursday, April 30, 2020. He also announced a limited reopening of Texas malls, stores, movie theaters and restaurants on Friday — with 25% occupancy.

While there has been much debate on whether Texas was ready for this move, one thing that is abundantly clear – more testing is needed. We need to test a larger percentage of the state’s population to better understand where the virus is lingering, isolate those who test positive, track down their contacts and order those people to quarantine themselves for two weeks.

That is why I have written a letter to the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) to petition for more tests to be made available to cities surrounding the city of Dallas. The DHHS is partnering with Walgreens to offer rapid, 15-minute drive-through testing for COVID-19 in several states, including Texas. Dallas is home to two federal Community-Based Testing Sites, however, we need to ensure that residents in bordering towns have access to testing capabilities. I have suggested Walgreens locations across HD-113, including Rowlett, Garland, Mesquite and Seagoville. Walgreens senior executives and the mayors of the cities mentioned are all on board. Once we receive confirmation from DHHS, we will work with community leaders and local media to inform the public.

Current COVID-19 Testing Locations

For information about testing, call your doctor and/or access care the way you usually do. If you need help finding a doctor or accessing medical care, call 2‑1‑1 and they can direct you to low- or no-cost providers in your area.

There are public screening sites available statewide, in‑person and at drive‑through locations. Click the link below to view the map of all sites to find the closest one to you. Check your location’s hours and referral requirements before your visit:

TX COVID-19 Test Collection Sites (https://bit.ly/2VKtQMW)


Coronavirus (COVID-19) Update

We continue to see new infections and deaths due to the virus. With businesses slowly beginning to reopen, I am hopeful that we will not see a spike in cases. As of 05/01/2020, the numbers of coronavirus infections are*:

Infections:
  • 1,070,032 total cases in the U.S.
  • 29,229 in Texas
  • 8,062 in North Texas
  • 3,531 in Dallas County
Recoveries:
  • 153,947 total cases in the U.S.
  • 14,122  confirmed in Texas
  • 1,647 confirmed in North Texas
  • 2  in Dallas County
Deaths:
  • U.S – 63,019
  • Texas -816
  • Dallas County – 104

*Due to COVID-19 rapidly changing developments, these numbers may not reflect the most up-to-date totals.
Even though restrictions have been partially lifted, please continue to follow social distancing and disease spread prevention guidelines suggested by the CDC, state and local medical experts as much as possible. Wear a mask when you are out to protect those around you and as a physical reminder to not touch your face. This will prevent us from taking two steps back after taking this step forward.


Texas Workers Faced with Tough Decision as Some Businesses Reopen Friday

On May 1, many Texas businesses are set to reopen. This comes as business leaders and medical experts around the country grapple with how fast to allow businesses to reopen and return to some normal activities.

It also leaves Texas workers with a difficult decision: Go to work and risk contracting the virus or bringing it home to loved ones or stay home and risk losing unemployment benefits. Until today, that was a very real dilemma for many laid off due to the pandemic.

The policy of the Texas Workforce Commission (TWC) states that those who choose not to return to work become ineligible for unemployment benefits. Their only recourse would be to contact the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration if they have concerns about whether their employer is following health guidelines. However, Gov. Abbott has announced new guidance to the agency regarding claimant eligibility for unemployment benefits should they choose not to return to work at this time due to COVID-19.

Under this new guidance, people can continue to receive unemployment benefits during the COVID-19 response if they choose not to return to work for reasons specified by the TWC. These reasons include:

  • Individuals at high risk – For example, people over the age of 65
  • Household member at high risk
  • Any person tested positive for COVID-19 confirmed by a state-authorized entity who is not recovered
  • Family member with COVID – A person in the household that has tested positive and has not recovered and 14 days have not passed
  • Any person under a 14-day quarantine after being exposed to the virus
  • Child care – Employee’s child has no alternative child care due to school or daycare being closed due to COVID-19

All other determinations for eligibility will be handled on a case by case basis.

I applaud this decision from Gov. Abbott and appreciate that he responded to calls for some resolution to this issue. I hope that the TWC acts quickly so that no Texan will go without this needed benefit. Access to healthcare and economic empowerment through job creation are not mutually exclusive, so I will continue to advocate for state reopening decisions based on sound scientific and medical advice as well as considerations of business interests.


The 2020 Census: Do it for the Community

With all that is going on and a lot of focus being placed on fighting the COVID-19 pandemic, participating in the census may not seem very important. Here are some reasons why it is important, even in these difficult times:

It’s about fair representation – The census results are used to reapportion the House of Representatives and determines how many seats each state gets.

It’s about redistricting – State officials use the results to redraw the boundaries of their congressional and state legislative districts to adapt to population shifts.

It’s about funding – There are $1.5 trillion in federal funds allocated to states, communities, and local governments to spend on vital programs like schools, hospitals, roads, and public works projects. The census helps officials determine where the needs are greatest.

Your data is confidential – Federal law prohibits the use of your responses for any other purpose than to produce statistics. The information cannot be shared with immigration, law enforcement, or be used to determine eligibility for government benefits. That’s the law.

If you haven’t completed the census for your household, please go to https://www.census.gov and fill it out online. It doesn’t take much time to have a positive impact on your local community.