Coronavirus: Updates and Resources

Coronavirus - also known as COVID-19 - is an unseen threat and that is highly contagious but thankfully here in the U.S. we are prepared to combat this virus and protect our communities. 

Administration officials are taking this threat very seriously and working with health officials to ensure safety and well-being of Americans. 

In the meantime, we must all do our part to prevent further spreading by practicing "social distancing."

Last updated 07/31/2020

What you need to know

Important Updates

 

CONGRESS PASSED THE CORONAVIRUS AID, RELIEF, AND ECONOMIC SECURITY (CARES) ACT

Paycheck Protection Program

The new Paycheck Protection Program is a new loan program for businesses to weather the storm of the COVID response. For a list of frequently asked questions, please seePDF iconhere

Economic Injury Disaster Loans

The SBA also has Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL): Apply here https://covid19relief.sba.gov/#/

Department of Labor:

Many employers have questions about new sick leave and family leave provisions.

The Department of Labor just released new regulations.

https://www.dol.gov/agencies/whd/pandemic

FAQ: https://www.dol.gov/agencies/whd/pandemic/ffcra-questions

Unemployment

Economic Impact Payments 

  • The IRS is committed to helping you get your Economic Impact Payment as soon as possible. The payments, also referred to by some as stimulus payments, are automatic for most taxpayers. No further action is needed by taxpayers who filed tax returns in 2018 and 2019 and most seniors and retirees, to see if you are eligible please click here. 
  • If you are eligible, use the IRS guide to figure out which IRS tool you should use to get your payment
    • Filers use the "Get My Payment" application to: 
      • Check your payment status
      • Confirm payment type: direct deposit or check
      • Enter your bank account information for direct deposit if the IRS does not have your direct deposit information and has not sent a payment yet
      • Special note: If you did not owe the IRS money and did not receive a refund, use this tool and enter $0.00 for the amount refunded or paid to the IRS. 
    • Non-filers use the "Non-Filers: Enter Your Payment Info Here" application to provide simple information so you can get your payment.
      • You should use this application if:
        • You did not file a 2018 or 2019 federal income tax return because your gross income was under $12,000 ($24,000 for married couples). This includes people who had no income; or, 
        • You were not required to file a 2018 or 2019 federal income tax return for other reasons. 
      • Do not use this application if you received the benefits below, doing so will delay your $1,200 payment; unless you are in these groups and have qualifying children under the age of 17 and wish to claim each child for the additional $500 payment per child:
        • Social security retirement, disability (SSDI), survivor benefits, or Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
        • Railroad Retirement and Survivor Benefits 
  • To help provide additional assistance, the IRS is establishing a special phone line for taxpayers with questions about their Economic Impact Payments (EIP).  That number is 800-919-9835, which is the number reflected on the notice mailed to taxpayers who receive an EIP.

How to Help

https://www.fema.gov/coronavirus/how-to-help

If you have a product that you think you can help with COVID:

Email: nbeoc@max.gov

Also see here: https://www.medicalcountermeasures.gov/Request-BARDA-TechWatch-Meeting/

THE HOUSE AND SENATE PASSED THE FAMILIES FIRST CORONAVIRUS RESPONSE ACT

The Families First Coronavirus Response Act will:

  • Ensure that coronavirus tests are free for all Americans.
  • Provide two weeks of paid sick leave and up to three months of paid family and medical leave for those affected by Coronavirus.
  • Includes enhances Unemployment Insurance, a step that will extend protections to gig and hospitality workers who lose their capacity to work and earn wages.
  • Increase federal matching to state and local health programs so that our frontline health systems can properly manage the expected influx of patients.

PRESIDENT TRUMP DECLARES NATIONAL EMERGENCY 

President Donald Trump declared a National Emergency for the U.S. Friday, March 13. 

  • Partnering with major private laboratory will accelerate our capacity to test patients and process results
  • An additional 5 million tests by the end of this month
  • Invoking the Stafford Act unlocks over $40 billion to assist state and local governments who are on the forefront of this response.
  • The President's use of the National Emergencies Act provides authority to expand Medicare and Medicaid services to enable hospitals that serve these populations to provide medical services and treat populations.

TEXAS GOV. ABBOTT ISSUES DISASTER DECLARATION 

Texas Governor Greg Abbott issued a Disaster Declaration for the State of Texas Friday, March 13. Click here to learn more.

By declaring a State of Disaster, a number of actions are triggered by the Governor, including:

  • Authorizing the use of all available and necessary state government resources to help manage this situation.
  • Activating the state emergency management plan and the State Operations Center to enhance the state’s planning and response capabilities.
  • Giving TDEM the ability to reassign & fully utilize appropriate personnel where they are needed most.
  • Providing the immediate ability to move resources around the state, including resources obtained through the Strategic National Stockpile.
  • Empowering the Office of the Texas Attorney General (OAG) to pursue cases of price-gouging and ensure that offenders are prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.

TRAVEL BAN

The travel ban restricts travel to the United States from foreign nationals who have recently been in certain European countries.

  • Specifically, this ban is on the Schengen Area, 26 countries in Europe with open borders agreements, in the last 14 days.  
  • In addition, this ban has been expanded to include the U.K. and Ireland.
  • The border between Canada and the U.S. will close for nonessential travel
  • Trade will not be affected by the 30-day restriction on travel from Europe
  • The restrictions do not apply to U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents. U.S. citizens who wish to return to the United States from Europe should make plans using commercial travel options, which remain readily available American citizens, legal permanent residents, and their immediate families who are returning home after recently visiting certain European countries (listed below), China, and Iran will now be required to travel through the following 13 airports:
    • Boston-Logan International Airport (BOS), Massachusetts
    • Chicago O’Hare International Airport (ORD), Illinois
    • Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport (DFW), Texas
    • Detroit Metropolitan Airport (DTW), Michigan
    • Daniel K. Inouye International Airport (HNL), Hawaii
    • Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL), Georgia
    • John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK), New York
    • Los Angeles International Airport, (LAX), California
    • Miami International Airport (MIA), Florida
    • Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR), New Jersey
    • San Francisco International Airport (SFO), California
    • Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA), Washington
    • Washington-Dulles International Airport (IAD), Virginia
    • Upon arrival, travelers will proceed to standard customs processing. They will then continue to enhanced entry screening where the passenger will be asked about their medical history, current condition, and asked for contact information for local health authorities. Passengers will then be given written guidance about COVID-19 and directed to proceed to their final destination, and immediately home-quarantine in accordance with CDC best practices.

Helpful links

Map of the outbreak 

Texas Department of State Health Services

Texas Department of State Health Services Testing Information

Harris County Public Health 

Austin Public Health FAQs

City of Austin Online Assessment/Testing Tool

CDC Coronavirus FAQs

FDA FAQs

State Department – Information for Travelers

Economic Injury Worksheet for Small Businesses Affected (Send these to TDEMPARecovery@tdem.texas.gov)
How to Help

 

Small Business Owners

The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) has included the entire state of Texas in its Economic Injury Disaster Declaration and granted access to its Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) program, which will provide long-term, low-interest loans to qualifying businesses across the state. Texas small businesses who believe they may be eligible for an SBA EIDL should visit www.sba.gov/disaster where they can directly apply for assistance. The online application is the fastest method to receive a decision about loan eligibility. 

Testing

  • Currently, Texas is starting to open COVID-19 "drive through" test centers in San Antonio, the Austin area, the Dallas area, and soon in the Houston area.
    • Baylor Scott & White have opened drive through centers in the Austin area. Testing supplies are still limited however. To see if you are eligible to get tested, please consult here: https://my.bswhealth.com/login
    • In the next two weeks, many will see this system expanded, with greater testing capacity.
  • For now, while we scale testing capacity, testing is limited for individuals in high-risk categories:
    • Elderly populations who have chronic medical conditions or are immuno-compromised who are at most at risk of serious illness
    • Doctors, nurses, and other first responders who are in constant contact with patients
    • Those who have been in direct contact with a confirmed case, or recently traveled to an affected area
    • Those who are symptomatic
    • For more information, see the latest guidance on testing from the CDC
  • NOTE: For medical questions related to COVID-19, please call your personal physician or the Texas Health Resources 24-hour hotline at 682.236.7601. For emergencies, dial 9-1-1.

Symptoms

For confirmed coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) cases, reported illnesses have ranged from mild symptoms to severe illness and death. Symptoms can include:

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath

CDC believes at this time that symptoms of COVID-19 may appear in as few as 2 days or as long as 14 days after exposure.

Spread

The virus is thought to spread mainly from person-to-person.

  • Between people who are in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet).
  • Through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes.

These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs.

It may be possible that a person can get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes, but this is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads.

Vaccine

Currently, there is no vaccine for Coronavirus, but on March 16, 2020, a Phase I study started in Washington State, testing the safety of a potential vaccine of 45 healthy individuals. Still, a vaccine will take at least one year in order to get approved for use.

What to do if you are sick

  • Stay home: People who are mildly ill with COVID-19 are able to isolate at home during their illness. You should restrict activities outside your home, except for getting medical care.
  • Avoid public areas:Do not go to work, school, or public areas.
  • Avoid public transportation: Avoid using public transportation, ride-sharing, or taxis.
  • Call ahead: If you have a medical appointment, call the healthcare provider and tell them that you have or may have COVID-19. This will help the healthcare provider’s office take steps to keep other people from getting infected or exposed.

The Latest in Texas

Coronavirus cases in Texas 

As of July 31, 2020, there have been 412,107 confirmed COVID-19 cases in Texas, and 6,274 deaths, according to Texas DSHS

Top Five Reporting Counties:

  • 69,126 in Harris CO
  • 48,732 in Dallas CO
  • 32,486 in Bexar CO
  • 27,151 in Tarrant CO
  • 20,187 Travis CO

For a complete list of cases in Texas reported by county, click here

 

Testing

In Texas, as of July 31, 2020, according to DSHS:

  • 3,609,474 tested

Important Notes

The majority of the cases are travel-related from California, New Orleans, and Italy, although there have been limited cases of community spread that are now occurring.

Currently, there are approximately 150 individuals returning from cruises who are under a 14-day federal quarantine in San Antonio, with most at Lackland Air Force Base and 5 individuals remaining at Texas Center for Infectious Disease. 

What’s is the difference between someone under investigation and quarantine?

  • There are key differences between PUIs and quarantined patients. A PUI is a person who is under investigation because of flu-like symptoms they are exhibiting. This does not mean that these individuals have the virus, it just means that healthcare professionals are taking extra precautions to ensure that individuals who feel ill do not have the virus.
  • A person under quarantine is a term that applies to someone who has either tested positive for the virus or has recently returned from a country where the coronavirus is present.

Austin-Travis County Efforts to Protect Vulnerable Population from COVID-19

  • Mandatory orders to secure long-term care facilities from COVID-19 (~2 day grace period to get this in place before penalties are issued to facilities)
    • Building access must be secured
    • Individuals entering (employees, volunteers, visitors, and new patients) must be screened for fever and symptoms prior to entering
    • Any patient or staff with unexplained fever or illness must immediately report to Austin Public Health

Prevention

How to protect yourself: 

  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.
  • Wash hands for at least 20 seconds in soap and water.

Are face masks effective? 

  • The CDC encourages wearing face coverings to slow the spread and protect others around you. Click here to learn more.

Treatment

There is no approved treatments for COVID-19 at this time, however, there have been successes in treating the virus using a combination of different antiviral drugs.

Other CDC Guidance for:

 

Steps We Are Taking

  • The President has issued travel restrictions on certain foreign nationals and most non-citizens coming from China and Iran who might transmit the virus to others.
  • Airport screenings have been expanded to identify anyone showing symptoms.
  • All Americans returning to the United States from China are being placed under a mandatory quarantine.
  • The United States is working with Italy and South Korea (two countries that The Department of State has issued the highest level of caution for travel) to create screenings for passengers entering into the United States.
  • A public health emergency has been declared and additional emergency funds have been allocated (see last bullet point/graph).
  • Extensive preventative actions are being taken at the state and local levels to ensure that the virus can be contained and combatted quickly.
  • The United States is working to expedite the process of developing a vaccine, therapeutics, and monoclonal antibodies that can be used for both protective and treatment purposes.

Congressional Action

  • The Senate is currently working on a third legislative response to help American workers, families, and industries who have been impacted by the Coronavirus outbreak
  • On March 14, 2020, the House approved a package aimed at bolstering the American family. The Families First Coronavirus Response Act:
    • Ensure that coronavirus tests are free for all Americans.
    • Provide two weeks of paid sick leave and up to three months of paid family and medical leave for those affected by Coronavirus.
    • Includes enhances Unemployment Insurance, a step that will extend protections to gig and hospitality workers who lose their capacity to work and earn wages.
    • Increase federal matching to state and local health programs so that our frontline health systems can properly manage the expected influx of patients.
  • On March 4, 2020, the House approved $7.8 billion in emergency funds to combat coronavirus. Brining the total in funds to combat the coronavirus to 8.3 billion. ($500 million in Mandatory Medicare Spending to compensate telehealth providers so it is easier for Medicare recipients to see a doctor virtually.) These funds will help the State Department and USAID fight coronavirus overseas and curb any further spread to the U.S. It will help with the development of treatments and vaccines, support state and local response efforts, and make diagnostic tests readily available. 
  • Additionally, Congressman McCaul introduced  the Preventing Drug Shortages Act, which would help address the critical issue of drug shortages that affect the quality of care patients receive across the country. 
  • Congress has been prepared, In the 115th Congress, my colleagues and I passed legislation to increase funding for key health resources

 

*Please note that there are more steps being taken by our federal, state, and local governments to ensure the safety of the American public.

Interviews

 

 

Click to watch here

Congressman Michael McCaul on America's Newsroom 

(03/10/2020)

 

Click to watch here

Congressman Michael McCaul on America's Newsroom

(03/16/2020)