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Posts published in March 2020

FIGHTING THE CORONAVIRUS PANDEMIC: County issues “Stay Home Work Safe” order

Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo, and Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner make a joint announcement about the “STAY HOME WORK SAFE” order last Tuesday morning.

Effective thru April 3rd; Virus cases reach 464

HARRIS COUNTY – Faced with the reality of mounting cases of the infectious and potentially lethal Coronavirus known as COVID-19, local leaders have issued an order to “Stay Home Work Safe” which amounts to a shelter in place directive.

At a joint news conference last Tuesday morning, Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo and Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner called for all but essential members of the public to stay at home, not to travel and not to congregate in groups. Businesses were advised to have their employees work at home. The order is set to last ten days, until Friday April 3rd.

As of last Friday, there were 464 virus cases in the greater Houston area that had tested positive. These include Houston 69 with 1 death, Harris County 135 including 1 death, Brazoria County 39, Brazos County 31, Fort Bend County 86, Galveston County 40, Matagorda County 9 including 1 death, Montgomery County 41, Chambers County 2, Liberty County 2, Grimes County 2, Wharton County 3, and Walker County 2.

Statewide in Texas there are 1,731 cases with 23 deaths. Nationally in the U.S. there are 100,390 cases and 1,543 deaths. Worldwide the cases number 587,958 with 26,909 deaths

The Order allowed the public to travel for necessities such as food and fuel, and allowed workers in 16 essential categories to continue to work. These include: Healthcare, Law Enforcement and Public Safety, Food and Agriculture, Electricity or Utility workers, Petroleum, Natural and Propane gas workers, Water and Wastewater workers, Transportation and logistics, including auto repair and postal service, Public Works, Communications and Media including newspapers, Government and Education, Critical manufacturing, Hazardous materials, Financial services including banks, Chemical workers, and Defense industries.

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Congress passes $2 trillion coronavirus stimulus package

• $1,200 for individuals earning $75,000 annually or less

• $2,400 for a marriage couple earning $150,000 annually or less

• $500 per child

• No need to fill out an application, the government will deposit it into your bank account based on your 2018 or 2019, the latest you have declared

• Only people with a social security number qualify for this stimulus check.

• Checks could be deposited within 3 weeks or could take up to 4 months

3 Covid-19 Virus test sites now open

INFORMATION ON CORONAVIRUS TEST SITES:

• United Memorial Med Ctr. private site at 510 w. Tidwell, as seen above is free, and does not require pre-screening.

People tested at the community based testing site are provided instructions on how to obtain their test results. Positive cases will continue to be reported by local health departments.

Harris County and the City of Houston have announced that they have opened three drive-thru testing sites for Coronavirus tests, and plan to open several more in the next week. For all the public sites, pre-screening is required, and then those that qualify due to Coronavirus symptoms, or because they are in a high risk category, will be given an ID number and an appointment at one of the locations, that remain unidentified to the general public.

• City of Houston, at Butler Stadium, call 832-393-4220 for pre-screening. Also free. At both sites, only those with symptoms will be tested.

• Harris County has one site open in East Harris County, in the Baytown area. Prescreening is done at readyharris.com or by calling 832-927-7575.

• Harris County plans to open a second site in the Katy area this week.

Free food distributed at several schools and centers

Precinct 2 Northeast Community Center, seen above, and Aldine’s MO Campbell Center were just two of many sites throughout the area that were distributing free food to families in a drive-thru last week. Pct. 2 food came from the Hilton Americas Hotel, and consisted of carrots, potatoes, apples and Brussels sprouts. It was distributed by Second Serving, and deputy constables from local precincts. It only lasted two hours, and then the food was all gone. Anyone with extra food is encouraged to call Pct. 2 for future distribution. The city of Houston is also distributing food at their community centers. Earlier in the week Aldine ISD distributed food parcels at 22 schools throughout the district.

COVID-19 drive thru testing available at no charge

HOUSTON, TX – Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee, Chair of the Congressional Coronavirus Task Force, hosted a press conference to urge residents with symptoms of the coronavirus to take advantage of no charge testing. The President just signed the Congressional bill that provides for no charge testing, and Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee announced drive thru testing at no charge at United Memorial Medical Center located at 510 West Tidwell, Houston, TX 77091.

No charge to the persons being tested.

Testing periods are: Monday – Friday: 8:00 AM – 8:00 PM.

Testing is limited to those persons with symptoms. Drive to the Test Site for screening and the test swab.

Coronavirus Task Force Implemented by Aldine ISD

The Aldine Independent School District Superintendent Dr. LaTonya M. Goffney is taking proactive measures against the coronavirus/COVID-19 to minimize risk to students, employees, and families relating to the spread of the coronavirus.

There are increasing cases of coronavirus confirmed in Harris and surrounding counties. The school district confirmed that these cases do not include students or employees of the school system.

“However, considering the virus is now confirmed in our county, we are taking additional steps to minimize risk to our students and staff,” Goffney said. “Our school district is following the Centers for Disease Control’s (CDC) guidance for schools. This includes making sure that our emergency operation plans are reviewed and up-to-date and that there is routine environmental cleaning. AISD uses cleaning products that have been verified by the manufacturer to kill viruses. Out of an abundance of caution, we are developing a plan to limit ‘non-essential’ school activities and travel to lessen the risk of exposure. We have set a date to reopen schools after the Easter/spring holiday in April, but we are evaluating the situation daily.

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Federal relief available for businesses and other tax filers impacted by COVID-19

Coronavirus Emergency Aid Package Signed

The legislation signed last Wednesday evening provides paid sick and family leave for some for U.S. workers impacted by the illness, expands unemployment assistance, includes nutrition assistance and increases resources for testing. Efforts are already underway to put together a third, larger relief measure that could total $1 trillion.

Deadline for Tax Filing extended to July 15th

Following President Donald J. Trump’s emergency declaration pursuant to the Stafford Act, the U.S. Treasury Department and IRS issued guidance allowing all individual and other non-corporate tax filers to defer up to $1 million of federal income tax (including self-employment tax) payments due on April 15, 2020, until July 15, 2020, without penalties or interest.

SBA to Provide Disaster Assistance Loans for Small Businesses Impacted by COVID-19

The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) is offering designated states and territories low-interest federal disaster loans for working capital to small businesses suffering substantial economic injury as a result of the Coronavirus (COVID-19).

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Yuroba Harris receives St. Hope Award

By Allan Jamail

At the St. Hope Award Ceremony Honoree Yuroba Harris, District Director for Congresswoman Sylvia Garcia received the COMMUNITY EXCELLENCE AWARD.

The award stated, “Presented to Yuorba Harris’s in honor of her exemplary efforts to advance community health leading to life impacting outcomes for many disproportionately affected members of our Community.”

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COVID-19 Executive Orders

On March 19, 2020, Governor Abbott announced several executive orders in response to COVID-19. These orders got into effect on March 20, 2020 and will end at midnight on April 3rd. They include the following regulations:

– Every person in Texas is to avoid social gatherings of more than 10 people.

– No dining in at restaurants, bars, or food courts. Take out, drive-thru and delivery options will be allowed.

– Gyms are to remain closed.

– Schools are to remain closed, but online or alternative learning options may be used.

– No visitations at nursing homes, retirement centers, or long-term care facilities unless it is to provide critical care assistance.

THIS IS NOT A SHELTER IN PLACE ORDER. You can still go to grocery stores, pharmacies, gas stations, parks, and banks. Essential government services and critical infrastructure still operational, and domestic travel allowed.

Charlotte’s Web: Learning to Live Differently

As I awoke at 2 a.m., I began to replay conversations from the past few days. Perhaps for the first time in years, I was wishing I did not live alone. If things go the way many are speculating, it might be weeks or even months until we get the next hugs.

Hugs have always been an important part of my life, at least during my adult life. When attending the University of Texas in Austin, I took my first of many psychology classes and learned that research has shown that if you get or give at least three hugs a day, your mental state is most often “happier” and that you will learn to have many more days filled with opportunities to share optimism than if you stay to yourself.

I have often joked that when I get to Heaven, that St. Peter will have to go enjoy something new, as I was going to take his place at the pearly gates and be the official greeter. And anyone who has been around me knows that greeting comes with a hug. Yet now, just days before my 58th birthday, I am being told that we cannot hug, we should not be in groups larger than 10 and that we should avoid any social activities. Can you imagine? For decades, I have been greeting at church services, Chamber luncheons, meetings and many public events. And now, I guess I can wave and smile to the few people I will be seeing.

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