Helpful Coronavirus Resources

 

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On March 10, 2021, I voted to pass the American Rescue Plan Act, and it was signed into law by President Joe Biden. This bill will establish a national vaccination program as well as support comprehensive testing and tracing, put money in the pockets of Americans and provide relief for small businesses, and, through investments in doing so safely, get kids back in school and people back in jobs.

Here are some highlights of this historic legislation and what the American Rescue Plan means for you and your family. 

Click here to take my American Rescue Plan survey and share your story. 

Stimulus Payment

The American Rescue Plan provides a new round of rescue checks of up to $1,400 for individuals. Combined with the $600 down payments enacted in December, these additional checks fulfill our promise to put $2,000 in Americans’ pockets. 

You can track your stimulus payment by using the IRS's Get My Payment tool. Those who do not usually file taxes can fill out a form on the IRS website to submit payment information for their stimulus check. If you didn’t get your Economic Impact Payment, or you received less than the full amount, you may be eligible to claim the Recovery Rebate Credit on your taxes. Please visit the IRS website for more information on claiming the Recovery Rebate Credit. 

 

Assistance for Individuals and Families

 

The American Rescue Plan will help keep people in their homes and apartments with housing assistance; put food on tables with nutrition assistance for 40 million Americans; support 27 million children with an expanded Child Tax Credit and support more than 17 million workers through the Earned Income Tax Credit, and lower health care costs to help families stay covered in the pandemic.

Expanded Child Tax Credit

Parents and caregivers can claim a Child Tax Credit (CTC) to help reduce their tax bill or provide an extra cash benefit, depending on the number and ages of their dependents. The American Rescue Plan Act drastically scales up CTC: it temporarily increases the amount from $2,000 to $3,600 per child under 6 and $3,000 for children older than 6. It also alters the distribution of the CTC, by allowing families to receive the money as up-front monthly payments instead of one lump sum when they file their taxes. Finally, the bill makes the credit fully refundable, meaning that even if a family doesn’t have a large federal tax liability, they will be able to enjoy the full benefit of the credit. 

For more information, please visit the IRS’s information page and the Child Tax Credit Update Portal

Emergency Rental Assistance

The American Rescue Plan Act includes $30 billion in Emergency Rental Assistance for state and local governments to provide financial assistance to eligible renters, which they can use to cover missed rent payments and unpaid utility and energy bills.  

To learn more about Texas Rent Relief, please click here.

For Dallas County, find more information about the Emergency Housing Assistance Program here. 

For Collin County, find more information about the Emergency Rental Assistance Program here

Homeowners

The American Rescue Plan Act authorizes $9.961 billion for the creation of a Homeowner Assistance Fund, which will provide grants to states and other housing entities to support homeowners. These funds can be put towards mortgage payment assistance, principal reduction, broadband costs, homeowner’s insurance, flood insurance, mortgage insurance, HOA funds and condo association fees, property taxes, property insurance, utilities, and other housing-related costs.

For Dallas County, find more information about the Emergency Housing Assistance Program here.

For Collin County, find more information about the Emergency Housing Assistance Program here.

 

COVID-19 Vaccine Information

 

The American Rescue Plan Act meets and exceeds President Biden’s request to invest $20 billion in a coordinated, nationwide vaccine program to:

  • Make sure we have enough vaccines for all Americans through research, development, manufacturing, production, and purchase.
  • Get those vaccines out to all Americans quickly and equitably through community vaccination centers, mobile vaccination units and more.
  • Improve communication to strengthen confidence in the vaccine and make sure all Americans know when, where and how they can get one.
  • It will also scale up testing and tracing, address shortages of personal protective equipment and other critical supplies, invest in high-quality treatments, and address health care disparities.

Vaccine FAQs

When will I be able to get the vaccine?

All people age 12+ in Texas are now eligible to receive the coronavirus vaccine. For more information on where and when Texans can get the vaccine click here

Is the COVID-19 vaccine free? 

Yes. As part of the Rescue Plan that I helped to pass, and President Biden signed into law, the COVID-19 vaccine is available free of cost to all individuals, regardless of insurance status. Check with your vaccine provider for any administrative fees. 

Where can I get the COVID-19 vaccine? 

Visit the Texas Health and Human Services website to find COVID-19 vaccine providers and vaccination centers. 

Where can I get tested for COVID-19? 

For a list of testing sites, please visit the Dallas County HHS website or the Tarrant County coronavirus website. If you are experiencing any COVID-19 symptoms, self-isolate immediately and seek testing. 

Now that there is a vaccine, do we still have to wear masks? 

Yes. The CDC recommends continuing to wear a mask in public, practice social distancing and hand hygiene and avoid large gatherings until most of the population is vaccinated. 

Is the Covid-19 vaccine effective against the Delta variant?

Yes. According to the CDC, “The COVID-19 vaccines approved or authorized in the United States are highly effective at preventing severe disease and death, including against the Delta variant.” To learn more, please visit the CDC’s page on the Delta Variant.

Am I eligible for a booster shot?

Currently, the CDC recommends immunocompromised individuals to receive an additional dose of the vaccine 28 days after their second dose. The CDC is not recommending booster shots for other individuals at this time. However, the HHS is “offer[ing] booster shots for all Americans beginning the week of September 20 and starting 8 months after an individual’s second dose.” To learn more, click here. 
 

Reopening Schools Safely

The American Rescue Plan makes nearly $130 billion immediately available to State Education Departments so they can:

1. Get schools open safely
2. Keep schools open safely
3. Make up for lost learning time. Superintendents, schools boards, the PTA, and others told me they need the American Rescue Act and I am listening to them.

The American Rescue Plan also provides resources for higher education, Head Start and childcare facilities. 

School Resources:

 

Unemployment Benefits

 

The American Rescue Plan extends enhanced unemployment insurance until September 6, 2021, when unemployment benefits are set to expire. 

The Texas Workforce Commission will stop paying Extended Benefits (EB) as of the week ending September 11, 2021. Claimants should continue to file payment requests and complete all EB work search requirements, to receive benefits through September 11, 2021.

Federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance Programs have also ended

For more information on COVID-19 unemployment, visit the Department of Labor website here: https://www.dol.gov/coronavirus/unemployment-insurance

 

SBA Assistance for Small Businesses in North Texas: 

Texas received approval for emergency designation from the U.S. Small Business Administration's disaster loans. Small businesses impacted by COVID-19 should apply at https://sba.gov/disaster-assistance/coronavirus-covid-19.
 

My office has also created a resource guide for small businesses to help them through this difficult time. You can access that document here: COVID-19 Small Business Resource Guide

Additional Resources

If you need help with your application, you can contact the local SBA district office: 

SBA Dallas/Fort Worth District Office

150 Westpark Way Euless, TX 76040

817-684-5500
 

You can also contact my office at 972-972-7949 if you need assistance contacting the SBA.
 

Taxes

The IRS has extended time for Texans to file and pay their taxes to June 15, 2021 due to the February winter storm. Folks who earn less than $57,000 per year, have a disability, speak limited English, or are over 60 years old, can visit the IRS website for information on the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program and the Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE) program. To find IRS-certified volunteers across North Texas who can help with tax preparation and filing, visit: https://irs.treasury.gov/freetaxprep.  

Additionally, if your income is $72,000 or below, you can file your taxes for free using the IRS’ Free File program. More information can be found on the IRS website at www.irs.gov.

Seniors and Nursing Home Resources

Nursing Homes

Nursing homes and long term care facilities represent some of the most vulnerable and at-risk populations to COVID-19. You should always know your rights and know how this virus could impact you. To get more information please see this FAQ from AARP on COVID-19. You can also learn more about your rights or get information about filing a complaint with a long term care facility with the Texas Attorney General's office here.

Complaints

Nursing homes and other long-term care providers are regulated by the Texas Department of Aging and Disabilities (DADS). DADS licenses and inspects these facilities, which must meet stringent health and safety standards to maintain their good standing to provide long-term care in Texas.

Seniors or families with complaints about long-term care providers in Texas can contact DADS at (800) 458-9858 or e-mail CRSComplaints@dads.state.tx.us. DADS has the authority to investigate these complaints.

In addition, the Attorney General's Medicaid Fraud Control Unit has the authority to investigate and prosecute cases involving possible criminal abuse, neglect or exploitation of residents in Medicaid-funded long-term care facilities. Possible criminal abuse, neglect or financial exploitation can be reported by calling (512) 463-2011, or toll-free (800) 252-8011, or by e-mailing mfcu@texasattorneygeneral.gov.

Dallas Area Agency on Aging: Help for Seniors and Caregivers

The Dallas Area Agency on Aging coordinates an integrated service system to ensure access to services provided to and for Dallas County older adults and their caregivers. The services provided include care coordination, family caregiver support, and benefits counseling. Contact the Agency on Aging at 214-871-5065 or impact@ccadvance.org.
 

Benefits Counseling Program
Individual in-person counseling services at senior centers have been suspended until further notice. Benefits counseling is available by phone for information and assistance with Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, and other public benefits. Call to speak to a benefits counselor at 214-871-5064 or 1-800-252-9240 Monday - Friday 8:30 AM - 5:00 PM.

 

Dallas: My Ride Transportation Program
My Ride Dallas can connect seniors to multiple transportation options through transportation options counseling, application assistance for transportation programs, and limited transportation vouchers. If you need assistance in creating a plan to travel to work, a doctor’s appointment, or other essential activities, call My Ride Dallas at 972-855-8084 to speak to a counselor or email at myridedallas@ccgd.org.

 

North Central Texas Aging and Disability Resource Center

The NCTADRC is funded by Texas Health and Human Services and provides information and referral to long-term service and support programs for seniors in Collin County. The NCTADRC serves as a resource connection and can provide specialized knowledge of local, state, and federal programs including Medicaid waiver programs, Medicare, SNAP, Area Agency on Aging programs for people over age 60 and their family caregivers, Veterans Administration programs, and subsidized housing for low-income older and disabled persons. They can be reached at 1-855-937-2372.

 

Stay Home, Stay Safe:

Visit dallascountycovid.org for COVID-19 resources and information for Dallas County residents. Visit the CDC's website for more information on how you can keep yourself and others safe.

 

What we know about the Delta Variant:

The Delta variant causes more infections and spreads faster than early forms of COVID-19, and is more than 2x as contagious as previous variants.

Data suggest the Delta variant causes more severe illness in unvaccinated people. The greatest risk of transmission is among unvaccinated people who are much more likely to get infected, and therefore transmit the virus. 

Fully vaccinated people get COVID-19 (known as breakthrough infections) less often than unvaccinated people. People infected with the Delta variant, including fully vaccinated people with symptomatic breakthrough infections, can transmit the virus to others.

 

 

Getting Vaccinated is the most effective way to protect yourself, your family, and your community from COVID-19.

  • The COVID-19 vaccines approved or authorized in the United States are highly effective at preventing severe disease and death, including against the Delta variant. 
  • High vaccination coverage will reduce spread of the virus and help prevent new variants from emerging. CDC recommends that everyone aged 12 years and older get vaccinated as soon as possible.

Wear a Mask

Given what we know about the Delta variant, vaccine effectiveness, and current vaccine coverage, prevention strategies, including wearing masks, are needed to reduce the transmission of this variant and stop the pandemic. Everyone who is able, including fully vaccinated people, should wear masks in public indoor places in areas of substantial or high transmission.

Dallas County Health and Human Services also recommends the following preventative measures to keep you and your loved ones healthy:

  • Stay home as much as you can, especially when you are sick.
  • Avoid close contact with others and try to maintain 6 feet of distance, especially with those who are sick. 
  • Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds and help children do the same. You can also use a hand sanitizer with at least 60 percent alcohol.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a cleaning spray or wipe.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands).

Additionally, the CDC now recommends that gatherings and meetings over 10 people be canceled or held virtually. Dallas County and the City of Dallas have issued new directives to help reduce gatherings.

If you think you were exposed to COVID-19 and feel sick with fever, cough, or difficulty breathing, you should contact your healthcare provider first. Before you go to a doctor’s office or emergency room, call ahead and tell them about your symptoms, and cover your nose and mouth with a mask BEFORE you enter the healthcare facility for medical evaluation.

 

    Please visit the DCHHS Novel Coronavirus webpage for FAQs and other resources that can be shared with members of the community. These resources include information for schools, health care providers, businesses, and several other helpful documents.

    Additionally, the Texas Department of State Health Services has established a hotline to serve as an additional resource for any questions about novel coronavirus:

    DSHS COVID-19 Call Center: 1-877-570-9779, Hours: 7:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m., Monday – Friday

    The North Texas Behavioral Health Authority (NTBHA) has also developed a dedicated COVID-19 mental health support line to provide trauma informed support and psychological first aid to those experiencing stress and anxiety during this time of crisis. Individuals can contact the 24/7 COVID-19 Mental Health Support Line at 833-251-7544.

    Again, this is a rapidly evolving situation, and it is important for everyone to continue to monitor the situation as new information becomes available.  If you would like more information on the coronavirus or to read the most recent updates and situation, please visit the CDC website.

    Additionally, my team is available to answer questions and provide helpful resources. Please call (972) 972-7949.  

     

    Travel concerns

     

    You do NOT need to get tested before leaving the United States unless your destination requires it. 

    You do NOT need to self-quarantine after arriving in the United States.

    However, you should pay close attention to the conditions at your international destination before traveling outside the United States. Other countries may have specific COVID restrictions you need to prepare for. 

    All air passengers coming to the United States, including U.S. citizens and fully vaccinated people, are required to have a negative COVID-19 viral test result no more than 3 days before travel or documentation of recovery from COVID-19 in the past 3 months before they board a flight to the United States.

    Wearing a mask over your nose and mouth is required by federal law on planes, buses, trains, and other forms of public transportation traveling into, within, or out of the United States and while indoors at U.S. transportation hubs such as airports and stations. 

     

    If you or a loved one are traveling or plan to travel outside of the United States, it is recommended that you register with the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP). STEP is a free service to allow U.S. citizens and nationals traveling and living abroad to enroll their trip with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. When registered, if you or a loved one have issues while traveling due to the coronavirus, the State Department will be able to contact you and provide up to date information.

    Visit the State Department website for more guidance on travel. If you face any issues, please call my office at 972-972-7949 for help.
     

    Resources for Veterans


    Before visiting local VA medical facilities, community providers, urgent care centers, or emergency departments in their communities, veterans experiencing COVID-19 symptoms—such as fever, cough, and shortness of breath—are encouraged to call their VA medical facility or call MyVA311 (844-698-2311, press #3 to be connected). Veterans can also send secure messages to their health care providers via MyhealtheVet, VA’s online patient portal. VA clinicians will evaluate veterans’ symptoms and direct them to the most appropriate providers for further evaluation and treatment. This may include referral to state or local health departments for COVID-19 testing.

    Please visit va.gov/coronavirus for more information.
     

    Recursos en Español
     

    I want to make sure that all the resources available are accessible to every North Texan, so if you, a loved one, or neighbor needs resources in Spanish, please share this with them.

    Estamos unidos en la lucha contra el coronavirus (COVID-19). Tenemos que seguir los consejos de los expertos y cada persona tiene que hacer su parte en prevenir la propagación de COVID-19. Por favor consulte estos recursos útiles. Llame a mi oficina si necesita ayuda al 972-972-7949. Hablamos español y estamos dispuestos para contestar cualquier pregunta que usted tenga. 

    • Si tiene preguntas sobre el coronavirus o quisiera saber acciones preventivas para ayudar a prevenir la propagación del coronavirus, sigue la orden Quédate en Casa, Quédate a Salvo, lávese las manos con jabón durante al menos 20 segundos. Evita contacto cercano con otros y mantenga una distancia de seis pies. Si se siente enfermo, llame a su doctor. 
    • Si perdio su trabajo debido a COVID-19, puede solicitar beneficios de desempleo de la Comisión de la fuerza laboral de Texas: https://twc.texas.gov/jobseekers/servicios-de-beneficios-de-desempleo o lllamando al telefono al: 800-939-6631, de lunes a viernes de 8 am - 6 pm. 
    • Negocios pequeños impactados por COVID-19 pueden solicitar un préstamo de desastre en: https://www.sba.gov/page/coronavirus-covid-19-orientacion-y-recursos-de-prestamos-para-pequenas-empresas. Si necesita ayuda con su aplicación, llame a mi oficina 972-972-7949.
    • El Departamento de Estado emitió un aviso de nivel 4: No viaje, instando a los ciudadanos estadounidenses a evitar los viajes internacionales debido al impacto global de COVID-19. Si usted o un familiar están varados en el extranjero y desean regresar a los Estados Unidos, pueden llamar a mi oficina al 972-972-7949 para obtener ayuda.
    • El Congreso proporcionó los fondos para pagos directos y poder ayudar a las personas superar esta crisis. Obtenga más información sobre esos detalles aquí.
    • Si quiere saber más de los recursos disponibles para usted y su familia durante este momento difícil, haga clic aquí.

     

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