I trust this email finds you and your family healthy and safe. I wanted to send this email to provide another update on our community’s efforts to combat the spread of Coronavirus (COVID-19).
The “Stay Home, Work Safe” Order issued by Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo remains in affect until April 30. The order requires everyone to remain at home unless they are conducting essential business such as grocery shopping, going to the pharmacy, picking up food or going to work at businesses that are deemed essential.
City parks are open, but when you’re out and enjoying the outdoors, protect everyone’s health and safety with physical distancing. The use of playgrounds, benches, workout and play equipment is prohibited. And remember, keep dogs on a leash at all times, and always clean up after yourself and your pet. Please help us keep our parks clean and safe for everyone!
COVID Cases, and FREE Testing
As of Tuesday, April 7, the City of Houston reported 1,320 COVID-19 cases. Statewide, there are 8,495 confirmed cases, and over 387,000 cases across the country. Those numbers more than doubled since the last update I sent out last week, and as testing continues, those numbers will likely go up.
The City of Houston and Harris County have tested thousands of high-risk symptomatic for COVID-19 at Houston’s community testing sites. The sites are only testing people pre-identified through a two-step screening process. Residents can go to www.ReadyHarris.org to begin the screening process or call the Houston Health Department at 832-393-4220. Only after the initial screening will qualified residents be directed to a testing site.
Anyone requiring technical assistance or translations services is encouraged to call the Harris County Public Health call bank, which is open seven days a week from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m., at 832-927-7575.
Food Distribution
HISD has relaunched its food distribution program. Tomorrow (Thursday, April 9) food will be distributed at Furr High School (520 Mercury) and Chavez High School (8501 Howard) beginning at 9 a.m. Distribution will take place outside in the parking lot and families must sign-in. For a complete list of sites, visitwww.HoustonISD.org. The program will be reviewed throughout the week and extended, as needed.
The Houston Parks Department continues its Curbside Meal Program for Youth, ages 1 to 18. The Curbside Meal distribution of a free snack and lunch will take place Monday – Friday from 1 p.m. – 3 p.m. The program is offered at 47 community centers in the city.
The Tejano Center at 2950 Broadway continues to operate a free breakfast and lunch program for youth 18 and under. The program is operating as a drive-through service, Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to noon. Community Family Centers operates a small food pantry for families in need as well. For more information please call them at 713-923-2316.
Additionally, Harris County Precinct 2 is distributing food at parks (for children only) and community centers (all ages). The program is operating as a drive-through service Monday through Friday on a first come, first serve basis. For more information, please contact Precinct 2 at 713-274-2222.
Numerous organizations in our area have also partnered with the Houston Food Bank to operate several food distribution sites throughout the city. To find a food distribution site near you visit www.HoustonFoodBank.org or call their helpline at 832-369-9390.
Schools Closed until May 4
As a reminder, HISD has closed all schools until May 4. During this time, HISD will continue remote learning. For updates and information, please visitwww.HoustonISD.org/HealthAlerts.
Price Gouging is Illegal
We have received questions and complaints about some businesses that are selling goods for unreasonably high prices. Price gouging is illegal in Texas, and a disaster declaration triggers tough penalties under the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act.
The State Attorney General (AG) has a complaint hotline as well as an online complaint form. Residents who believe they have encountered price gouging should call the AG’s complaint line at 800-621-0508 or file a complaint online:www.texasattorneygeneral.gov/consumer-protection
Grocery Stores Operational
Many grocers are offering dedicated store hours for seniors. Fiesta, Kroger, Walgreens, HEB, Food Town, and Walmart are all reserving the first hour of daily shopping for people over 60 or with physical disabilities.
It’s always good to be prepared, but do not panic shop. There are no issues with the food supply chain, and grocers are restocking daily to keep up with demand.
Federal Aid for Small Businesses and Workers
With passage of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, the $2 trillion federal aid package, workers will receive a one-time check of $1,200 for each adult making under $75,000 a year, $2,400 per couple earning under $150,000 a year, and $500 per child.
Checks will be delivered directly by the IRS to most Americans who filed federal income tax returns in 2019 or 2018. Most people should receive their money by mid-April through direct deposit. If the IRS doesn’t have your bank information, it will send a paper check to your last known address. Those checks will likely be sent out starting at the end of April through early September.
As I mentioned in the past couple of updates, the Small Business Administration is working with state leaders to provide assistance to small businesses and employers that have experienced business disruption. Small businesses should visit www.sba.gov/coronavirus for more information.
The City of Houston’s Office of Business Opportunity (OBO) would like to better understand how businesses are being impacted during this time, so if you own a small business please complete the Small Business Community Resiliency Survey available on the OBO website.
If You Have Symptoms
Most people with COVID-19 will feel like they have a bad cold or the flu. Some people will require hospitalization. If you develop symptoms, healthcare professionals recommend that you distance yourself from family members and friends. Wash your hands and disinfect surfaces regularly. Contact your local primary care provider for guidance, but do not go to the emergency room, unless you are in a critical situation. If you feel sick enough to go to an emergency room, call ahead to alert hospital staff that you’re coming and so they can take appropriate precautions to protect staff and other patients.
  • Wash hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Use hand sanitizer when you can’t wash your hands.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • Cover your coughs and sneezes with a tissue and throw the tissue away. If you don’t have a tissue, use the elbow of your sleeve. Don’t use your hands to cover coughs and sneezes.
  • Avoid gatherings of 10 or more people.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
  • Maintain social distancing of at least six feet.
Stay Informed
Please continue to stay informed through official resources such as the Houston Office of Emergency Management’s Coronavirus webpage and Harris County Public Health. If you have any questions regarding COVID-19, the Houston Health Department has established a Call Center: 832-393-4220. Additionally, you can text CV19 to 888777 for COVID-19 alerts.
The District I office remains open and is here to serve residents. While our City Hall office is closed to foot traffic, our staff is working remotely from home. Please continue to send emails to [email protected] or call 832-393-3011 if you need assistance with a city service. We are committed to providing residents the same level of support and service during this time.
Complete the 2020 Census TODAY!
The 2020 Census is happening now. You can respond online, by phone, or by mail. If you have not yet completed your Census form, please do so today – it’s quick, easy, and safe. Census data will help determine billions of dollars in funding for our hospitals, emergency services, and healthcare programs – and we will need it to begin a strong recovery from the impacts of Coronavirus. Visitwww.my2020Census.gov to complete the census online or call 1-844-330-2020. The 2020 Census does not ask whether you or anyone in your home is a U.S. citizen. Everyone living in the country, including non-citizens, counts. Say Yes to Census 2020!!
Day of Prayer – April 9 at 12 p.m.
Finally, the City of Houston will observe a moment of Prayer this Thursday, April 9. I encourage all Houstonians to join us in collective prayer, meditation, or a moment of silence wherever you are at noon Thursday. Let’s lift up in prayer not just all front-line workers, doctors, nurses, caregivers, firefighters and police officers; but also the medical professionals and scientists who are working feverishly to develop a cure for COVID-19; the farm workers working the fields to keep grocery stores stocked, the truck drivers traveling across our country delivering goods and supplies, the hospital workers keeping hospitals clean, grocery workers, child care providers, garbage collectors, custodians, security guards, transit workers, longshoreman, postal workers, and so many others who continue to work around the clock to keep our communities safe and functioning. To show our appreciation, on Thursday evening, City Hall, sports venues and the bridges over Highway 59 will be lit in blue in support and in appreciation of all essential workers, our HEROES!
Thank you for your patience and cooperation during this difficult time. Be safe and stay well!
Robert Gallegos
Houston Council Member
District I