Coronavirus Updates and Resources

This resource page is to keep our community updated on the latest coronavirus developments. As the likelihood of community spread throughout the United States of coronavirus continues, the best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed to this virus altogether.

Helpful Links

CDC - OFFICIAL CORONAVIRUS RESOURCE AND UPDATES WEBSITES

Frequently Asked Questions About Coronavirus Legislative Response


Congressman Crenshaw's Statements on Coronavirus

Houston Congressional Delegation Joint Statement

Myths and Facts About Coronavirus

Border Security and Containing Coronavirus

Standard of Testing for Coronavirus

Here's the Truth on Coronavirus Testing

What is Coronavirus?

Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that are common in people and many different species of animals, including camels, cattle, cats, and bats. Rarely, animal coronaviruses can infect people and then spread between people such as with MERS-CoVSARS-CoV, and now with this new virus, which causes a serious respiratory illness.

Tips for Staying Healthy:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
  • 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.
  • The Center for Disease Control (CDC) has provided more helpful prevention tips.

Additional National Resources: 

Texas Specific Resources

UPDATES:

  • Preventing Drug and Device Shortage: the federal government is using emergency authority to expand manufacturing of preventative products used to combat coronavirus to prevent a shortage.
  • Supplying Testing Kits: Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is using emergency authority to manufacture testing kits, waiving patent protections and marketing authorizations to ensure that testing kits can be deployed. Each testing kit can test 350 patients.
  • Travel Restrictions: President Trump issued a suspension of entry proclamation for people traveling to the United States from China and Iran.
  • Supplemental Emergency Funding: Congress passed an $8.3 billion in emergency funding to combat coronavirus, and Friday, March 6, President Trump signed this measure into law. 
  • Pandemic Preparedness: Last year, President Trump signed into law the Pandemic and All Hazards Preparedness and Advancing Innovation Act (PAHPA) reauthorizes the nation’s public health preparedness and response programs. These  programs give federal, state, and local officials resources to combat outbreaks such as coronavirus.
  • Small Businesses: Important for Texas small businesses - SBA is offering assistance to small businesses, co-ops, and non-profits in our state that are being impacted by coronavirus. Learn more here: http://tdem.texas.gov/covid-19/?fbclid=IwAR1cGt7dOI47F_xQTevGC-olp5w7GEenL2GjbodW3hU9o5nF3ZfLvbUU_9Y
We will continue to update this resource page as information is released. To contact the CDC with any questions or information regarding the coronavirus, please call 1-800-CDC-INFO. Harris County residents can reach the Harris County Public Health Department at 832-927-7575.

 
CARES Act

Individual Tax Rebates

This bill provides immediate cash relief for Americans. The full credit amount  - $1,200 for individuals, $2,400 for couples, and $500 for children - is available for those with incomes at or below $75,000 for individuals, $112,500 for heads of household, and $150,000 people who file jointly. The credit phases out above those thresholds and will be phased out completely for single taxpayers with incomes exceeding $99,000 and $198,000 for joint filers.  

As long as a person has a valid Social Security number, they can receive the credit. This means workers, those receiving welfare benefits, Social Security beneficiaries, and others are all eligible.    

Unemployment Expansion

This bill includes approximately $250 billion to expand access to unemployment benefits. This legislation helps those who are not eligible for regular unemployment insurance by creating a new Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program. This is critical for those not traditionally eligible for unemployment insurance, such as self-employed and independent contractors, like gig workers and Uber drivers, as well as those who are unable to work or telework as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

The legislation provides an additional payment to each recipient of $600 per week to people receiving unemployment insurance or Pandemic Unemployment Assistance recipients for 4 months beginning April 1 through July 31, 2020.

We also provide funding to reimburse nonprofits and government entities that are not part of the state unemployment system for 50% of the costs they incur through December 31, 2020 to pay unemployment benefits. 

Loans & Forgiveness to Small Businesses

This bill provides $349 billion in loans for small businesses to help keep their doors open and their employees on the payroll. Businesses can use these loans for payroll support, paid sick or medical leave, insurance premiums, and mortgage, rent, and utility payments.

Businesses eligible for loans includes small businesses, 501(c)(3) nonprofits, including churches. We also provide this relief for sole-proprietors, independent contractors, and other self-employed individuals.

Borrowers should go to their traditional lender, their community bank or credit union, since the bill gives delegated authority, which means that loans can be originated by most financial institutions.

Support for Medical Professionals on the Front Lines

This legislation provides critical support to the hospitals and health care workers on the front lines of this fight. We provide:

  • $100 billion for hospitals and providers to reimburse health care expenses or any lost revenue they might have seen due to COVID-19
  • $16 billion to procure personal protective equipment (PPE), ventilators, and other medical supplies for federal and state response efforts.
  • $11 billion for the Public Health Emergency Fund for the manufacturing, production, and purchase of vaccines, therapeutics, diagnostics, and other medical or preparedness needs.
  • $4.3 billion for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), including another $1.5 billion for direct allocation to the states
  • $1 billion for research into an effective vaccine.
  • $17 billion for research and promoting domestic manufacturing capacity to decrease reliance on a global supply chain
  • $100 million for the Department of Energy to use their supercomputers to research possible COVID-19 treatments and vaccines

This legislation also expands coverage of COVID-19 diagnostics to all Americans, by ensuring that tests and all future vaccines are covered by insurance. States are also allowed the option to provide a future vaccine to uninsured populations, through the Medicaid program.

Loans to Distressed Industries

This legislation also protects the large businesses who are being hit especially hard by this crisis and employ millions of Americans. This legislation allocates $500 billion to what is called an Exchange Stabilization Fund (ESF), which is basically an emergency reserve fund that provides the Treasury Secretary with the authority to distribute emergency funding. That includes up to $46 billion to assist air carriers and businesses critical to our national defense.

To be clear, this is not a bailout. The fund provides loans that must be paid back, and the loans are to Americans who, through no fault of their own, are in economic jeopardy. Additionally, this comes with strict oversight to prevent stock buy-backs, executive pay raises, and layoffs. 

Remember: an American laid off from a big business is no different than an American laid off from a small business.

Housing Support

We are also addressing significant housing challenges that have arisen as a result of this crisis. This legislation provides:

$5 billion for Community Development Block Grants with additional flexibility to meet the needs of individual communities fighting this virus.

$1.25 billion in additional funding for Tenant Based Rental Assistance programs to assist more families in securing stable housing during this emergency and help assisted households who may lose income during the outbreak.

$1 billion for Project Based Rental Assistance to assist public housing authorities and property owners in preventing the spread of COVID-19 and helping residents who lose income due to the outbreak.

$4 billion for Emergency Homeless Assistance Grants that go directly to local governments to help provide shelter and basic facilities.

Additionally, we are protecting homeowners and renters from foreclosure and eviction by prohibiting foreclosures on any federally backed mortgages for 60-days. This bill also allows borrowers affected by COVID-19 to shift any missed payments to the end of their mortgage, with no added penalties or interest, for 180 days.

This bill halts evictions for renters in properties with federally backed mortgages for 120 days, and gives relief to multifamily property owners through forbearance on any federally backed mortgage.

Education

Education has also been disrupted as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, so there are specific measures in this bill to provide relief to our education system and students.

This legislation provides needed relief to college students to ensure they are not harmed by colleges’ decisions to switch to online delivery models or close outright in the middle of the semester. Specifically, the bill provides direct financial relief to many student loan borrowers by pausing their monthly repayment requirements for six months with no penalty.

We are also providing schools the flexibility to ensure this interrupted or unfinished semester does not stop their students' ability to continue class in the future. Students will not be on the hook for financial aid distributed to them when the pandemic forced them to drop out mid-term

Additional Recovery Funding

There is also additional relief for other distressed systems and critical agencies responding to this pandemic, including

$36.1 billion for our transportation systems such as airports, transit, and passenger rail.

$45 billion for the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Disaster Relief Fund.   

$31 billion for K-12 schools, colleges, and universities    

$5 billion for Community Development Block Grants

$19 billion for veterans assistance

$25.1 billion for nutritional assistance for senior citizens, women, children, and low-income families.

$150 billion for states and localities.