The novel coronavirus (COVID-19) is a new respiratory illness that was first detected in China and has since spread to millions of people across the world. On March 11, the World Health Organization (WHO) characterized the outbreak as a pandemic. As information is rapidly changing, check this page consistently for updates.
As your member of Congress, the safety and health of my constituents is my top priority. While many are concerned about the spread of COVID-19, rest assured that I am working with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to keep our communities healthy. As a reminder, my office can assist with issues involving a federal agency, including State Department. You may call my Williamson County Office at 512-246-1600 or my Bell County office at 254-933-1392.
While there's still more to learn about the coronavirus, I encourage you to visit these resources for the latest information:
- Centers for Disease Control
- CDC: Caring for someone at home (Click here)
- CDC: What to do if you're sick (Click here)
- CDC: Interim guidance for businesses and employers (Click here)
- CDC: Cleaning and disinfection for households (Click here)
- Texas Department of State Health Services
- Bell County Health District
- Williamson County Health District
- Williamson County COVID-19 information hotline: 512-943-1600
- Bell County COVID-19 information hotline: 254-616-3209
Both Bell County and Williamson County have been designated as vaccine hub providers in the state of Texas. For information on who is eligible for the vaccine and where to go in Williamson County, click here. To register for the vaccine waitlist, click here. For where to go in Bell County, click here. For a full list of Texas vaccinaation locations, click here.
The Department of Veterans Affairs has created a resource page for veterans experiencing COVID-19 symptoms or with questions regarding care. The Department of Veterans Affairs has implemented their vaccination plan that can be found here. Vaccinations of health care personnel, community living patients and spinal cord unit residents will begin first at the Temple VA, with the goal of providing all veterans and staff members a vaccine if they want it.
Legislative and Administration Updates
Phase 1: Emergency Supplemental Appropriations
- Provided $8.3 billion in emergency funding to respond to COVID-19
- $4 billion for diagnostic testing
- $2.2 billion for Centers for Disease Control and local health districts
- Williamson and Bell Counties received over $575,000 of this funding
- $20 million for small business disaster loans
- $1.25 billion for the State Department to evacuate Americans overseas
Read my statement on the Coronavirus Emergency Funding Bill.
Phase 2: Families First Coronavirus Response Act
- Provides free medically appropriate diagnostic testing for the coronavirus
- Increases access to telehealth services for Medicare beneficiaries
- Provides funding for nutritional assistance programs and food banks to help assist low-income families in the wake of school closures related to COVID-19
- Provides $250 million for senior nutrition programs, including home-delivered meals and meals at senior centers
- Provides paid leave for employees impacted by the Coronavirus
Read my statement on the Families First Coronavirus Response Act.
Phase 3: CARES Act
- A one-time stimulus check for individuals and families
- For specific situational questions, visit the IRS website.
- For questions about the stimulus payments, visit the IRS website page.
- For details on forgivable loans for small businesses that keep employees on the payroll, click here.
- Funding for PPE, health care workers, and hospitals
- Expands unemployment insurance to cover gig, self-employed and nonprofit employees.
Read my statement on the CARES Act here.
Phase 4: Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act
- Added $310 billion to the Paycheck Protection Program
- Increased Economic Injury Disaster Loan funding by $60 billion
- Provided $25 billion for additional COVID-19 testing
- Included an additional $75 billion for hospitals and health care workers
Phase 5: COVID Relief
- Provides over $280 billion to reopen and strengthen the Paycheck Protection Program
- Businesses under 300 employees that have had a 25% reduction in revenue are eligible for the second round of PPP
- Provides one $600 stimulus payment per individual ($1,200 per married couple)
- Individuals making less than $75,000 gross adjusted income or $150,000 for married couples are eligible
- The IRS will use your 2019 tax information
- Provides $20 billion to produce vaccines and therapeutics for the coronavirus
- Expands rural broadband to underserved communities
- Extends the tax credit for employers that continue to offer paid sick and family leave to their employees
There are two vaccines that have received emergency use authorization from the United States Food and Drug Administration. Until they're widely available everyone has a role to play in preventing the spread of the virus. The best way to stay healthy and prevent spreading the illness is to practice good hygiene. Protect yourself against infection by washing your hands, keeping your distance from others, and wearing a face covering. For guidance on masks, click here.
Symptoms of the coronavirus may appear 2–14 days after exposure and include fever, cough, and shortness of breath. If you think you have been exposed to COVID-19 and develop any of these symptoms, stay home and call your health care provider for medical advice. It's important that you call first to help mitigate the spread of COVID-19 to health care workers and other patients.
As of Tuesday, January 26th, all air passengers two years of age or older arriving to the United States must provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test or proof of recovery from COVID-19 before boarding. This order applies to both foreign nationals and U.S. citizens. For more information about the testing requirement, click HERE.
Please check current U.S. Department of State Travel Advisories for the country you are traveling to before booking and departing.
If you are currently overseas, follow this link for helpful resources. Sign up for the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program to get alerts on rescue flights back to the United States. Also, follow the U.S. Department of State's Facebook page for upcoming rescue flight information.
If you are in need of emergency assistance from the State Department, you may utilize these phone numbers:
- U.S. and Canada: 1-888-407-4747
- Overseas: +1 202-501-44
You can also call a U.S. embassy or consulate for emergency assistance. To find the closet consulate or embassy to you, visit USEmbassy.gov
School Guidance and Closures
Information from individual school districts can be found on their websites.
Assistance for Small Business Owners
Paycheck Protection Program Loans
As of January 11, 2021, the Paycheck Protection Program has reopened its loan portal. The PPP is now open for eligible community financial institution (CFI) applications to receive a First Draw PPP loan if they did not receive a loan prior to August 8, 2020. Eligible applicants include small entities with 500 or fewer employees. The application is open until March 31, 2021 through various SBA lenders found HERE.
Who is eligible?
- Business entities
- Sole proprietors, independent contractors, self-employed individuals
- 501(c)(19) Veterans organization
- Tribal business
- Housing cooperatives, destination marketing organizations, eligible news organizations
Starting on January 13, 2021, eligible CFI borrowers may begin to apply for a Second Draw PPP loan with the same general loan terms as their first. These loans can be used to help fund payroll costs, including benefits, or pay for mortgage interest, rent, utilities, COVID worker protection costs, uninsured property damage incurred by looting or vandalism in 2020, as well as certain supplier costs and operation expenses. Eligible applicants include those who have previously received a First Draw PPP loan, have 300 or fewer employees, and can demonstrate a 25% reduction in gross receipts between comparable quarters in 2019 and 2020.
Who is eligible?
- Received a PPP First Draw loan
- Has, or will, use the full amount towards the eligible expenses before the Second Draw loan is disbursed
- Has 300 or fewer employees
- Can demonstrate the 25% reduction in gross receipts
What is a CFI? A Community Financial Institution includes the following organizations:
- Community Development Financial Institutions
- Minority Depository Institutions
- Certified Development Companies
- Microloan Intermediaries
Economic Injury Disaster Loans
The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) is providing targeted, low-interest disaster recovery loans to small businesses that have been severely impacted by coronavirus. Additionally, the SBA continues to assist small businesses with counseling and navigating their own preparedness plans through the 68 district offices and resource partners located around the country. Texas is poised to become eligible for funds shortly. In the meantime, businesses should begin the application process at https://disasterloan.sba.gov/ela/.
Process for Accessing SBA’s Coronavirus (COVID-19) Disaster Relief Lending
- These loans may be used to pay fixed debts, payroll, accounts payable and other bills that can’t be paid because of the disaster’s impact. The interest rate is 3.75% for small businesses without credit available elsewhere; businesses with credit available elsewhere are not eligible. The interest rate for nonprofits is 2.75%.
- SBA offers loans with long-term repayments in order to keep payments affordable, up to a maximum of 30 years. Terms are determined on a case-by-case basis, based upon each borrower’s ability to repay.
- SBA’s Economic Injury Disaster Loans are just one piece of the expanded focus of the federal government’s coordinated response, and the SBA is strongly committed to providing the most effective and customer-focused response possible.
- To apply, click here.
COVID-19 Targeted EIDL Advance
Advance funds of up to $10,000 will be available to applicants located in low-income communities who previously recieved an EIDL Advance for less than $10,000, or those who applied but recieved no funds due to lack of available program funding. Applicants do not need to take any action at this time. SBA will reach out to those who qualify. For more information, click here.
For additional information, please contact the SBA disaster assistance customer service center. Call 1-800-659-2955 (TTY: 1-800-877-8339) or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
To learn more about additional resources available to small businesses, click here.
In the fifth coronavirus relief bill, a second stimulus payment was included. The payment is $600 for every eligble individual, and $1,200 for every eligible married couple. Also, families will receive an additional $600 for every eligible child. To be eligible, an individual cannot make more than $75,000 adjusted gross income, and a married couple cannot make more than $150,000. At this time, if you still have not received your first economic income payment or received the incorrect amount, you can claim or reconcile the new Recovery Rebate Credit when you file your 2020 income taxes.
In addition to federal stimulus payments, Texans who are out of work can apply for unemployment through the Texas Workforce Commission.
If you have problems contacting the TWC for unemployment benefits, we recommend contacting your state representatives or senators.
TX-31 Coronavirus Cases