The Texas Association of Regional Councils has been compiling and sharing information and resources related to COVID-19 with its members. This information is archived below in chronological order. Because of the ever-changing nature of the response to the pandemic, older information and guidance may have changed since its original distribution.

Please e-mail tarc@txregionalcouncil.org with any resource questions or site updates.

 

May 27, 2020

Updates from Governor Abbott

  • Governor Abbott, HHSC Announce $3.6 Million To Connect Nursing Facility Residents And Families
    • Governor Greg Abbott and the Texas Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC) today announced $3.6 million in funding for nursing facilities to purchase tablets, webcams, and headphones to connect residents with their loved ones during the COVID-19 pandemic. Texas is encouraging nursing facility providers to submit applications to HHSC to receive up to $3,000 in federal funding per facility for purchasing communication technology devices.
    • Press release available here.
  • Governor Abbott Announces Additional Services And Activities That Can Open Under Phase II
    • Governor Greg Abbott yesterday issued a proclamation expanding additional services and activities that can open under Phase II of the state’s plan to safely and strategically open. With this proclamation, water parks, recreational sport programs for adults, driver education programs, and food-court dining areas within shopping malls can begin operations with limited occupancy or regulations to protect the health and safety of Texans.
    • Press release available here.

 State Agency Updates

  • Department of State Health Services
    • With more data being reported, the DSHS dashboard now has two sections:
      • Case data: bit.ly/3be7qbJ
      • Testing and hospital data: bit.ly/3d7nNby
      • To switch between sections, click the link in the bottom right corner of the webpage.
  • Reminder: Texas Division of Emergency Management Information-CRF
    • Please see Coronavirus Relief Fund (CRF) Website and Terms and Conditions requiring a percentage of resources received to be spent in specific categories.
    • Please note eligible jurisdictions should direct questions to: CRF@TDEM.TEXAS.GOV

Federal Updates

  • President Trump Signs Executive Order on Regulatory Relief to Support Economic Recovery
    • The Regulatory Relief to Support Economic Recovery Order calls on agencies across the federal government to use emergency authorities provided under the Administrative Procedures Act to swiftly rescind, modify, waive, or provide exemptions from regulations and other requirements that inhibit job creation and economic growth. It further calls on agencies to consider permanently rescinding or modifying any regulations that were temporarily halted in response to COVID-19. The order could impact virtually any regulation from the numerous government agencies that promulgate rules, including financial regulations, environmental protections, and agricultural production and distribution guidelines, among many others.
  • US Department of Treasury
  • Administration for Community Living
    • Senior Nutrition Survival Guide
      • With the number of FAQs and resources published to address this rapidly evolving situation, the Administration on Community Living has created a “survival guide” to help you find the resources that best address your questions. The guide is most relevant for OAA III-C programs, but also includes information to help OAA Title III-B and III-E grantees navigate nutrition-related matters.
  • SBA and Treasury Release Paycheck Protection Program Loan Forgiveness Application
    • The Small Business Administration, in consultation with the Department of the Treasury, released the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) Loan Forgiveness Application and detailed instructions for the application. The form and instructions inform borrowers how to apply for forgiveness of their PPP loans, consistent with the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act). SBA will also soon issue regulations and guidance to further assist borrowers as they complete their applications, and to provide lenders with guidance on their responsibilities.

 

May 22, 2020

Operational Updates & Resources

State Agency Updates & Resources

  • DSHS COVID-19 Update Call
    • There will be no 4:00 pm DSHS COVID-19 Update call Monday, May 25, 2020.

Federal Agency Updates & Resources

  • Economic Development Administration
    • Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act Frequently Asked Questions
      • EDA has posted answers to frequently asked questions (FAQ) to help understand EDA’s CARES Act funding, who qualifies for grants, how to apply, and more. There are also answers to questions current EDA recipients may have and that provide additional, relevant program, and application information.
      • Jorge Ayala, EDA Regional Director, will be joining us during the TARC Board of Directors meeting on June 5, 2020, to provide an update on the funding available to Texas and how EDA will partner with Texas regional councils as one partner to help rebuild the state’s economy.
  • CISA Essential Critical Infrastructure Workers Guidance Version 3.1
  • FEMA
    • Public Assistance Webinar Schedule
      • For a list of FEMA Public Assistance webinars for the week of May 25-29, 2020, click on the link below.
    • FEMA Preliminary Damage Assessment Webinar
      • May 26, 27, & 28 at 2:00 pm Eastern
        • FEMA recently released an updated Preliminary Damage Assessment Guide (PDA Guide) and its accompanying Preliminary Damage Assessment Pocket Guide. The PDA Guide will be effective on June 8, 2020.
        • Click here for the updated guides.
          • Adobe Connect Webinar: Information
          • Audio for the webinar is available through a telephone dial-in:
            • 1-888-270-9936; Access Code 4025899#
          • Closed Captioning Link: Information
    • Update to Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) Grants
  • CDC Guidance
    • This week, the CDC published a document summarizing CDC Activities and Initiatives Supporting the COVID-19 Response. This document lays out approaches that state, local, territory and tribal authorities as well as businesses, and other institutions can use to assess when to move from one phase to another. Information

 

May 20, 2020

Operational Updates & Resources

State Agency Updates

  • Texas Division of Emergency Management Information-CRF
    • Please see Coronavirus Relief Fund (CRF) Website and Terms and Conditions requiring a percentage of resources received to be spent in specific categories.
    • Please note eligible jurisdictions should direct questions to: CRF@TDEM.TEXAS.GOV.

 

May 18, 2020

Governor Abbott Announces Phase Two To Open Texas

Governor Greg Abbott announced this afternoon the second phase of the State of Texas’ ongoing plan to open Texas while minimizing the spread of COVID-19.

  • Click here for press release.
  • Please note the following from page 4 of today’s Executive Order:
    • In accordance with guidance from DSHS Commissioner Dr. Hellerstedt, and to achieve the goals established by the President to reduce the spread of COVID-19, every person in Texas shall, except where necessary to provide or obtain Covered Services, minimize social gatherings and minimize in-person contact with people who are not in the same household. People over the age of 65, however, are strongly encouraged to stay at home as much as possible; to maintain appropriate distance from any member of the household who has been out of the residence in the previous 14 days; and, if leaving the home, to implement social distancing and to practice good hygiene, environmental cleanliness, and sanitation.
      • “Covered Services” shall consist of everything listed by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) in its Guidance on the Essential Critical Infrastructure Workforce, Version 3.0 or any subsequent version, plus religious services conducted in churches, congregations, and houses of worship. These covered services are not subject to the conditions and limitations….”
  • Governor’s Task Force to Open Texas Checklists As many digest today’s additional guidance the checklists linked above might provide an easy way to navigate timelines and recommendation by specific organization. One of importance to regional councils is below:
    • Office-Based Employers Minimum Standard Health Protocols
      • The document linked below contains a checklist with minimum recommended health protocols for all office work employers choosing to operate in Texas. Office work employers may adopt additional protocols consistent with their specific needs and circumstances to help protect the health and safety of all employees, contractors, and customers. 

Operational Updates & Resources

  • ETCOG Return to Onsite Work Plan
  • CDC Workplace Decision Tool
    • The CDC has created a tool workplaces can use as part of its considerations for reopening. The purpose of this tool is to assist employers in making (re)opening decisions during the COVID-19 pandemic, especially to protect vulnerable workers. It is important to check with state and local health officials and other partners to determine the most appropriate actions while adjusting to meet the unique needs and circumstances of the local community.

 

May 15, 2020

Regional Resources

  • CAPCOG EDA CARES Act Webinar

State Updates & Resources

Upcoming Webinars

  • COVID-19 Cost Recovery Webinar (FEMA’s Public Assistance funding)
    • 12:00 pm – 1:00 pm | Tuesday, May 26 | Register
    • Join the International Association of Emergency Managers Disaster Cost Recovery & Finance Caucus in a discussion of the Public Assistance aspects during the COVID-19 epidemic. Note: This call will focus exclusively on FEMA’s Public Assistance funding for Category B, Emergency Protective measures. We will NOT be discussing any of the medical aspects, except as they may be eligible for FEMA funding. We will also not be discussing DHHS or CDC funding.

 Federal Resources

  • New Census Bureau COVID-19 Data Hub
    • The Census Bureau released a new resource page to help federal agencies, businesses, and communities make decisions related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Similar to the Census Bureau’s resource pages created during natural disasters, this resource page includes information on population demographics, economic indicators and businesses. 
    • This resource page includes information on population demographics, economic indicators and businesses. It features a new interactive data hub that centralizes data previously released from the American Community Survey and the County Business Patterns program to facilitate users’ access to data useful in pandemic-related decision-making.
    • For more information, click here.
    • For additional COVID-19 resources from the Census Bureau, click here.

 

May 13, 2020

Operational Updates & Resources Please feel free to send us any resources you have found to be helpful.

Texas Department of Emergency Management Coronavirus Relief Fund (CRF) (Funding available for cities and counties)

  • Letter to Elected Officials from Governor Abbott
  • For more information and to register for funding, visit https://tdem.texas.gov/crf/.
  • Summary:
    • Under the CARES Act, the Coronavirus Relief Fund (CRF) is to be used to make payments for specified uses to states and local governments. The total CRF funding allocated to the state of Texas is approximately $11 billion. The U.S. Treasury managed the initial distribution of these funds to states and jurisdictions with populations above 500,000.
      • These 18 Texas jurisdictions (Austin, Bexar County, Collin County, Dallas County, Dallas, Denton County, El Paso County, El Paso, Fort Bend County, Fort Worth, Harris County, Hidalgo County, Houston, Montgomery County, San Antonio, Tarrant County, Travis County and Williamson County) received their allocation of the $11 billion directly from the Treasury.
    • The state is now making funds available for eligible expenses to the jurisdictions not included in the 18 jurisdictions listed above. Distribution of funds is based on a calculation of $55 per capita.
    • The Texas Division of Emergency Management (TDEM) will manage the distribution of funds, review of expenses and reimbursement. Initially, each eligible jurisdiction will receive an immediate distribution of 20 percent (20%) of the allocations listed in this document. The remainder of the allocation will be reimbursement based. Jurisdictions will submit documentation to TDEM and request reimbursement.

A PLAYBOOK FOR RESILIENCY: Creating Opportunity for All Texans

  • As state leaders begin to restart the Texas economy, policy experts from the Hobby School of Public Affairs at the University of Houston and the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas at Austin have issued a nine-point blueprint for rebuilding a more equitable and inclusive future Texas. The report, “A Playbook for Resiliency: Creating Opportunity for All Texans,” co-authored by Kirk Watson, founding dean of the Hobby School of Public Affairs, and Steven Pedigo, professor of practice and director of the LBJ School’s Urban Lab.
  • TARC has already reached out to Dr. Pedigo and he has agreed to visit with our membership virtually and even in person in the future. We will continue to work with him to find a time most suitable.

 

May 11, 2020

Texas Department of State Health Services COVID-19 Data

  • DSHS COVID-19 Case Count Dashboard
    • The DSHS COVID-19 dashboard will now update daily at 3 p.m. CDT. This change is to address an increase in data the dashboard is reporting and to make their daily updates as current as possible.
    • The dashboard can be found here.
  • In addition to the DSHS COVID-19 Dashboard, DSHS has made available the following datasets. Please note that all data are provisional and subject to change.
    • Cases over Time by County – Updated Daily (Last updated: 5/11/2020)
      • This Excel files contains daily case counts by county, beginning March 4, 2020.
    • Fatalities over Time by County – Updated Daily (Last updated: 5/11/2020)
      • This Excel files contains daily fatality counts by county, beginning March 4, 2020. 
    • Estimated Active Cases over Time by County – Updated Daily (Last updated: 5/11/2020)
      • This Excel files contains daily active case estimates by county, beginning April 7, 2020.
    • County Trends Dashboard – Updated Daily
      • This dashboard contains daily new case and fatality trends by county, as well as total cases per 1,000 persons by county.
    • Cumulative Tests by County – Updated Daily (Last updated: 5/11/2020)
      • This Excel file contains the cumulative number of tests administered by county. Data are overwritten daily.
    • Accessible Dashboard Data – Updated Daily (Last updated: 5/11/2020)
      • This Excel file contains the underlying data currently displayed in the DSHS COVID-19 Dashboard. Data are displayed on multiple tabs and include daily and cumulative case and fatality data, estimated recoveries, statewide hospital data, and case demographics for confirmed cases. Data are overwritten daily.

Reminder: Coronavirus Emergency Supplemental Funding (CESF) Program (Funding Available)

  • Final date for application submission is 6/15/2010.
  • The updated Request for Applications (RFA) with Frequently Asked Questions is posted on the eGrants website on the “Calendar” page located here: https://egrants.gov.texas.gov/fundopp.aspx

Administration for Community Living Updates

  • Reopening Guidelines for Senior Nutrition Programs 
    • Developed as a collaborative effort between the National Resource Center on Nutrition and Aging, National Association of Nutrition and Aging Services, National Council on Aging, and ACL, these guidelines offer suggestions for senior nutrition programs to consider as their states move through the phases of reopening.  

 Reminder: TARC COVID-19 Resources Online

  • TARC has collated the information and resources we’ve been sharing with you in these COVID-19 email blasts on our website for easier access. The information is archived in chronological order. Because of the ever-changing nature of the response to the pandemic, older information and guidance may have changed since its original distribution. If you have any questions or site updates, please let TARC staff know.
  • The page can be found here: https://txregionalcouncil.org/regional-programs/covid-19-resources/

 

May 8, 2020

State Updates

  • Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC)
    • OAAA Releases Notification of Funds Available for AAAs- COVID-19 CARES Act Funds (Funding Available)
      • The FY2020 CARES Act Notification of Funds Announcements for the Area Agencies on Aging (AAA) have been placed on the Secure FTP site https://sftp.hhs.texas.gov in the FY2020 NFA folders for each AAA. 
      • Per the HHSC AES COVID-19 Weekly Webinar & Conference Call held on Thursday, May 7, 2020, HHSC is in the process of updating the Request for Adjustment (RFAJ) and Request for Reimbursement (RFR) Templates.
        • HHSC will notify all AAAs once the revised templates are available for use and have been published on the Secure FTP site.
      • HHSC Access and Eligibility Service (AES) also shared the Ombudsman’s COVID-19 Specific Use of Funds memorandum concerning ombudsman services.  
      • The NFA #20 – FY2020 CARES Act placed on the FTP site for each AAA includes:
        • Title III-B, Title III-C2, and Title III-E,
        • Title VII-OM 
        • The graphic below shows the breakdown of these funding amounts statewide.

    • HHSC AAA COVID-19 FAQ Webinar Recording
      • HHSC Access and Eligibility Services (AES) held their weekly webinar with Area Agencies on Aging and stakeholders.
        • Please click HERE to access the webinar.
      • As a reminder, as AES continues to receive updates from their federal partners, the guidance provided during this webinar may change.
  • TDHCA Invites Stakeholders to Subscribe to CARES Act CDBG Email List
    • On April 13, 2020, Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs (TDHCA) was designated by Governor Greg Abbott to be the recipient of CARES Act Community Development Block Grant (CDBG-CV) funding for the state. An email subscription list has been created for those interested in receiving information on the Department’s activities related to CDBG-CV.
    • Those on the list will receive announcements of hearings, funding availability, programming activities, trainings, and other pertinent information.
    • The email list can be joined by going to http://maillist.tdhca.state.tx.us/list/subscribe.html?lui=f9mu0g2g&mContainer=2&mOwner=G382s2w2r2p.
  • Governor Abbott, OneStar Foundation Announce Texas COVID Relief Fund
    • Governor Greg Abbott and the OneStar Foundation announced the Texas COVID Relief Fund, which will provide critical funding and resources to organizations across the state working on the ground to support the economic recovery of local communities. Funds raised will be distributed through grants focused on the areas of community and economic development, healthcare, and education. Funds will also be used to support local priorities and organizations serving the unmet needs of vulnerable populations and underserved communities.
    • For more information on how to access the Texas COVID Relief Fund or to make a donation, visit the OneStar Foundation website

 Federal Updates

TARC has been in discussions with Jorge Ayala, Director of the EDA Austin Regional Office who will join the regularly scheduled TARC Executive Directors’ Council conference call on Tuesday. All EDDs should be getting individual email letters from EDA prior to Tuesday’s call. Jorge and EDA staff will be on the call to go over the letter and answer any questions you may have.

    • U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross yesterday announced that the Department’s Economic Development Administration (EDA) is now accepting applications from eligible grantees for  Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) supplemental funds (EDA CARES Act Recovery Assistance) intended to help communities prevent, prepare for, and respond to coronavirus.
    • Under this announcement, EDA will make CARES Act Recovery Assistance grants under the authority of its Economic Adjustment Assistance (EAA) program, which is intended to be flexible and responsive to the economic development needs and priorities of local and regional stakeholders.
    • EDA CARES Act Recovery Assistance investments will support a wide range of non-construction and construction activities, including Revolving Loan Funds, in regions across the country experiencing severe economic dislocations brought about by the coronavirus pandemic.
    • Examples of projects that EDA may fund through its CARES Act Recovery Assistance include economic recovery planning and preparing technical assistance strategies to address economic dislocations caused by the coronavirus pandemic, preparing or updating resiliency plans to respond to future pandemics, implementing entrepreneurial support programs to diversify economies, and constructing public works and facilities that will support economic recovery, including the deployment of broadband for purposes including supporting telehealth and remote learning for job skills.
    • Eligible applicants under the EAA program include a(n):
      • District Organization;
      • Indian Tribe or a consortium of Indian Tribes;
      • State, county, city, or other political subdivision of a State, including a special purpose unit of a State or local government engaged in economic or infrastructure development activities, or a consortium of political subdivisions;
      • Institution of higher education or a consortium of institutions of higher education; or
      • Public or private non-profit organization or association acting in cooperation with officials of a political subdivision of a State.
  • COVID-19 Disinformation Activity
    • False and misleading information related to the coronavirus (COVID-19) are a significant challenge.
      • This CISA Insight provides an overview of coronavirus disinformation and steps that can be taken to reduce the risk of sharing inaccurate information with your friends and family.

May 6, 2020

Updates from Governor Abbott

  • Governor Abbott Expands Business Openings In Texas, Announces Surge Response Teams To Combat COVID-19
    • Governor Greg Abbott held a press conference where announced that he will be issuing an Executive Order to expand openings of certain businesses and activities. The Governor also announced new guidance from the Texas Education Agency (TEA) on graduation ceremonies and the creation of Surge Response Teams to combat any COVID-19 flare ups in Texas. 
  • Governor Abbott, TDHCA Secure Financial Housing Assistance
    • *Funding Available* COGs are eligible applicants.
    • Governor Greg Abbott and the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs (TDHCA) announced that Texas will provide HOME Tenant Based Rental Assistance (TBRA) to Texans experiencing housing challenges due to COVID-19. These TBRA funds have been made possible through a series of waivers recently authorized by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).
    • TDHCA has developed a short-term rental assistance program (3-6 months) for low-income renter households to help families and individuals with up to 100 percent of the cost of rent, security deposit payments and utility bills for tenants economically impacted by COVID-19.
    • Eligible entities, including nonprofit organizations, units of local government, public housing authorities, and Councils Of Government that do not have an existing Reservation System Participant (RSP) Agreement, and would like to provide TBRA under the COVID-19 set-aside, may submit the abbreviated Application to the Department in order to access these funds.
      • To apply, visit: http://www.tdhca.state.tx.us/home-division/applications.htm.  
        • Applications to access the Reservation System will be accepted on an ongoing basis.
        • Administrators with current RSP Agreements will be able to access available funding under their existing set-asides, and may submit a request to amend their existing RSP Agreement to add the COVID-19 TBRA set-aside.
          • An RSP Agreement is not a guarantee of funds.   
        • For Application or program questions, please send an email to the HOME Division at home@tdhca.state.tx.us.
        • For any technical questions or problems with the Excel Application spreadsheets, please contact TDHCA HOME Manager Chad Landry at chad.landry@tdhca.state.tx.us or 512-475-2135.
  • Governor Abbott, HHSC Announce $3 Million Emergency Grant For Aging, Disability Services
    • *For those of you who operate ADRCs*
    • Governor Greg Abbott announced that the Texas Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC) has received approval for a $3 million emergency grant for Aging and Disability Resource Centers (ADRCs) from the U. S. Department of Health and Human Services Administration for Community Living.

Operational Updates

State Updates & Resources

  • AAA Use of Debit and Gift Cards During a Disaster: Update
  • UT Austin Seeking Rural Communities for Economic Development Project
    • The IC2 Institute of UT Austin is seeking participation from rural communities across the state.  This opportunity is completely free and will provide you with valuable data that could benefit the economic growth of your community. 
    • The IC² Institute at The University of Texas at Austin engages in programs to help remote or non-urban communities develop evidence-based strategies to achieve sustainable economic development. 
      • This summer IC² is focusing its efforts on how Texas communities can recover from the COVID-19 crisis, and will be forming a large research and reporting team to investigate challenges and assets of smaller cities throughout Texas. 
      • The participating cities should receive valuable information to help take recovery steps.
    • If you would like to request that your community be considered for inclusion in the summer research project, please review this site and complete this brief online form
      • The form asks for a primary contact for each interested city and a list of other local contacts who would be willing to provide information to the IC² team, so please discuss this opportunity among community leaders before submitting the form.
      • Completing the form does not obligate you to participate, nor does it guarantee that your community will be included. 
    • If you have any questions, you can email Debra Dzwonczyk (debra@ic2.utexas.edu) at the IC² Institute directly.

Federal Updates & Resources

  • SBA Small Business COVID19 Information Webinar
    • May 7 | 2:00 pm to 3:00 pm | Webinar | Skype Call in Link
    • The SBA San Antonio District Office will provide the latest information from the SBA to help small businesses with their economic recovery.
      • Join by phone: 210-469-4148  – Conference ID: 450990275 
  •  CISA Telework Best Practices and Cybersecurity Tips
    • The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) launched a dedicated telework resource page intended to advise and support the incorporation of cybersecurity considerations when adopting or expanding telework policies, such as the use of video conferencing software and related collaboration tools.
    • These new products are available at cisa.gov/telework. This page is a one-stop shop for telework cybersecurity guidance for critical infrastructure, government, and citizens.
  • Opening America’s Workplaces Again National Online Dialogue
    • The U.S. Department of Labor is hosting a national online dialogue to solicit comments on safely reopening America’s workplaces.
    • The national online dialogue began on April 30th and runs through May 7th.

 

May 4, 2020

Operational Updates Please send us any items you have found helpful for your region.

  *DSHS Daily COVID-19 Call Update*

  • Please delete all previous 4PM DSHS COVID-19 Daily Call for Public Health and Medical Partners and Emergency Management/Government Officials calendar information. Beginning 5/4/2020, these calls will take place Mondays and Thursdays
    • Call Information: 
      • 800-289-0462 
      • Passcode: 805539
    • For Thursday, 5/7/2020 ONLY
      • CALL INFORMATION:
        • 800-636-3874
        • Passcode: 788355

Governor’s Small Business Webinar Series

  • Wednesday, May 6 | 1:00 – 2:00 pm | REGISTER HERE
  • The Governor’s Small Business Webinar Series – East Texas will provide small business owners and entrepreneurs with timely, relevant, actionable information on COVID-19 recovery resources. Businesses will also get the chance to connect with local experts and support systems. The agenda will include:
    • Update on programs in the CARES Act
    • Workforce-related topics such as hiring, benefits, payroll and unemployment
    • Live Q&A with the experts
  • Featured speakers will include an expert from the Texas Workforce Commission as well as local Small Business Development Centers.

TARC e-Learning: Using Social Media to Inform the Public

Wednesday, May 6 | 11:00 AM CDT | Register Here

  • Join two digital marketing and public relations pros from Elizabeth Christian Public Relations along with H-GAC for tips, tricks and best practices on how to make efficient use of the social media platforms that matter most to your area citizens. We’ll also hear from one region about how they’ve used social media successfully and lessons learned. You can brush up on the basics of posting, tagging and engagement as well as learning more about targeting people in your region specifically with boosting and more. @HouGalvAreaCog @ECPRaustin

 

May 1, 2020

TARC COVID-19 Resources Online

TARC has collated the information and resources we’ve been sharing with you in these COVID-19 email blasts on our website for easier access. The information is archived in chronological order. Because of the ever-changing nature of the response to the pandemic, older information and guidance may have changed since its original distribution. If you have any questions or site updates, please let TARC staff know.

Special thanks to Kimberly Lile Dowty, TARC’s Associate Director, for making this happen and helping with the access instructions below.

  • Accessing the Web Page
  • Searching for Information on the Web Page
    • If you’re looking for something specific on the page, the simplest way to do so is to use the Find Word function. This is available in the major web browsers, including ChromeMicrosoft Edge, Internet Explorer, Safari, and Opera.
      1. Open the web page you want to search.
      2. Press Ctrl+F in Windows and Linux. Press Command+F on a Mac.
      3. Type the word (or phrase) you want to find.
      4. Press Enter.
      5. The web page scrolls to the nearest occurrence of the word. If the word occurs more than once on the web page you’re searching, press Enter to go to the next occurrence. Or, select the arrows on the right (or left) side of the Find Word window.

TARC e-Learning: Using Social Media to Inform the Public

Wednesday, May 6 | 11:00 AM CDT | Register Here

  • Join two digital marketing and public relations pros from Elizabeth Christian Public Relations along with H-GAC for tips, tricks and best practices on how to make efficient use of the social media platforms that matter most to your area citizens. We’ll also hear from one region about how they’ve used social media successfully and lessons learned. You can brush up on the basics of posting, tagging and engagement as well as learning more about targeting people in your region specifically with boosting and more. @HouGalvAreaCog @ECPRaustin

CDC Operations Guidance

This guidance is intended for all Americans, whether you own a business, run a school, or want to ensure the cleanliness and safety of your home. Reopening America requires all of us to move forward together by practicing social distancing and other daily habits to reduce our risk of exposure to the virus that causes COVID-19.

The Governor’s Texas Business Bulletin

The email linked above contains several updates and resources from the Governor’s Office of Economic Development and Tourism that may be of interest to you or the communities you serve.

COVID-19 Resource Reports (compiled by FEMA Region 6)

  • COVID-19 Supplemental Index updates
    • This index includes any offering entered under the following headings: CARES Act; Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Supplemental Appropriations Act; Families First Coronavirus Response Act; and Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act
  • Tribal-Eligible programs by deadline
    • Listing of resources that are eligible for Tribes and Tribal organizations to apply, all resource types, sorted by deadline.
  • General Federal Offerings with deadlines
    • Sampling of current Federal offerings of all types, for general distribution as reference for potential resources.

Federal COVID-19 Resources (Some of these resources may have been shared in prior communications)

 

April 29, 2020

Operational Updates Please send us items to share that have worked well in your region.

State Agency Updates & Resources

  • Health and Human Services Commission
    • HHSC Access and Eligibility Services (AES) cancelled tomorrow’s HHSC AES AAA COVID-19 Weekly Webinar & Conference Call.
      • They will resume the weekly meetings on Thursday, May 7, 2020.
      • Please click here to register for next week’s call.
    • In addition, AES will extend all Older Americans Act waivers through May 31, 2020.
  • TDEM/DSHS Mobile Testing Site Locator
  • DIR Webinar: Communicate with Confidence in a Virtual World!
    • Monday, May 4, 2020 | 11:00 am – Noon | Webinar Registration
      • Presented by Barnes Team Media and hosted by DIR as part of the Technology Today Series (TTS).
      • Welcome to this new virtual world! As we transition from in-person interaction to communicating virtually, being effective on camera has never been more important. It can be challenging and intimidating! However, there are practical and easy-to-implement tactics to help you be successful in virtual meetings and webinars – whether you’re an attendee or the host. Kim and Mike Barnes will teach you how to show up well for these events. They will cover looking and sounding good, virtual etiquette, creating engaging meetings/webinars, being prepared and more. This will also include tips for best practices regarding microphones and webcams. Participants will gain a better understanding of what they are doing (or not doing) to create more powerful virtual connections.
      • Audience: This free webinar is open to any public sector employee interested in the topic.
      • Additional Information
        • This free webinar is hosted by DIR and sponsored by TASSCC.
        • DIR will award continuing education credit.
        • A recording will be available for 1 week only. It will take a day to prepare the recording, then check the DIR calendar listing for the link.
        • Please contact joy.bryant@dir.texas.gov with any questions.

 Federal Agency Updates & Resources

 

April 27, 2020

Updates from Governor Abbott

  • Governor Greg Abbott today announced the first phase of the State of Texas’ ongoing plan to open Texas while minimizing the spread of COVID-19 and issued three Executive Orders.
  • View the Governor’s Executive Orders issued today:
    • GA-18: Relating to the expanded reopening of services as part of the safe, strategic plan to Open Texas in response to the COVID-19 disaster.
    • GA-19: Relating to hospital capacity during the COVID-19 disaster.
    • GA-20: Relating to expanding travel without restrictions as part of the safe, strategic plan to Open Texas in response to the COVID-19 disaster.

Senate Work Groups Established to Discuss Pandemic Impact on Texas

TDEM Training Schedule 4/29-5/1

Governor’s Small Business Webinar Series – South Texas

Federal Updates & Resources

  • FEMA has published the Coronavirus (COVID-19) Pandemic: addressing PPE needs in non-healthcare setting.
    • This guidance summarizes how organizations should consider and manage their personal protective equipment (PPE) needs while ensuring the protection of workers during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic response, including how to preserve limited supplies of PPE, how to consider need during periods of shortages, and how to acquire and request PPE (i.e., in the face of critical shortages and whereas normal supply chain allocation cannot meet operational requirements).
  • Workplace guidance for employers

 

April 24, 2020

TARC E-Learning: Using Social Media to Inform the Public

Wednesday, May 6 | 11:00 AM CDT | Register Here

  • Join two digital marketing and public relations pros from Elizabeth Christian Public Relations for tips, tricks and best practices on how to make efficient use of the social media platforms that matter most to your area citizens. We’ll also hear from one region about how they’ve used social media successfully and lessons learned. You can brush up on the basics of posting, tagging and engagement as well as learning more about targeting people in your region specifically with boosting and more. @HouGalvAreaCog @ECPRaustin

Governor Abbott, HHSC Announce $54 Million To Support Older Texans During COVID-19 Pandemic

  • Governor Greg Abbott announced that Texas Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC) will receive nearly $54 million in federal funds to support older Texans and people with disabilities during the COVID-19 response. The funding will be used to support programs and services administered by the state’s 28 Area Agencies on Aging such as home-delivered meals, help with household chores, assistance with groceries, and respite care or other services for family caregivers.
  • Press release available here.

Governor Abbott, Chancellor Sharp, Chief Kidd Announce COVID-19 Federal Assistance Training For Local Leaders

  • Governor Greg Abbott announced that Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service will provide a series of free online trainings to help local officials understand, acquire, and administer federal assistance available to the state of Texas and municipalities through the Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act and recently passed Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. Beginning today, AgriLife Extension will offer these trainings online to help local leaders navigate the federal funding process, and in turn, respond and recover from the COVID-19 pandemic as quickly and effectively as possible.
  • Full press release available here.

HHSC AAA COVID-19 FAQ Webinar Recording

  • HHSC Access and Eligibility Services (AES) held a their weekly webinar with Area Agencies on Aging and stakeholders.
    • Please click here for the webinar.
    • As a reminder, as AES continues to receive updates from their federal partners, the guidance provided during this webinar may change.

 

April 22, 2020

USDA COVID-19 Rural Resource Guide

  • This resource matrix organizes funding opportunities identified in the CARES Act and other federal resources that can help support rural America.
    • The guide lists programs that can be used to provide immediate and long-term assistance to rural communities affected by the COVID-19 outbreak. These programs can support recovery efforts for rural residents, businesses and communities through:
      • technical, training, and management assistance;
      • financial assistance; and
      • state and local assistance.
    • Opportunities are categorized by customer and assistance type.
  • For more information on the immediate actions USDA is taking to respond to COVID-19, visit usda.gov/coronavirus.
  • Information and resources from HUD regarding COVID-19 can be found here: https://www.hud.gov/coronavirus.

Funding Update: Updated Coronavirus Emergency Supplemental Funding (CESF) Program RFA, Office of the Governor

  • The Coronavirus Emergency Supplemental Funding (CESF) Program RFA has been updated to include a list of FAQs.
  • In addition, the following information from the Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) was shared with TARC and will be included in the next update made by the Office of the Governor, Public Safety Office to the RFA.
    • Question:  Many justice system agencies (prosecutors, defense agencies, courts) are funded through the levy of fines and fees on defendants.  With arrests and bookings down due to the cascade of events stemming from covid-19 and social distancing, revenue from fines and fees are also way down.  Some of these justice system agencies are facing immediate (or anticipated longer-term) budget cuts.  Understanding that the DOJ Grants Financial Guide defines supplanting as to “deliberately reduce State or local funds because of the existence of Federal funds,”  is it considered appropriate to use CESF grant funds to support those justice system agency operations?  Will it be adequate justification to show the precipitous decline in revenues during these months of covid-19 social distancing?
      • Answer:   This same question was recently posed to USDOJ/BJA and they have indicated this would not be an eligible use of funds.  CESF funding may not be used to make up for lost revenue (or for any other purpose other than the statutory purposes, which are to “prevent, prepare for, and respond to coronavirus”). The question is posed as a supplanting problem, but BJA regards this as a question of allowable uses of funds.  BJA goes on to advise that the statutory language is not broad enough to cover support of general justice system agency operations. 
      • Just a bit more about the authorizing language for CESF:  In addition to the language in the specific appropriation for BJA’s CESF program, the general provisions, at section 23004, emphasize that limited use of funds by noting that the funds may be expended “only” for these purposes. Although this provision provides for exceptions to the limited purposes—including some exceptions related to reimbursement of lost revenue – the BJA CESF program is expressly not included in the permissive exception. 

Texas Health & Human Services Commission Updates

  • Funding Announcement: HHSC – CARES Act Funding for AAAs
    • The CARES supplemental funds were received by HHSC on April 21, 2020, and will be distributed to the state’s 28 Area Agencies on Aging (AAAs) based on the existing Intrastate Funding Formula (IFF) approved by the Assistant Secretary for Aging. The funds must be expended on allowable activities as defined by the Older Americans Act and state and local policy. 
    • HHSC’s Access and Eligibility Services will be distributing additional information regarding allocations in the coming days.
  • HHSC AES AAA COVID-19 Weekly Webinar and Conference Call
    • Thursday, April 23, 2020, 10:30 AM CDT
      • During this conference call, AES staff will provide additional guidance related to the COVID-19 emergency period and review the updated Frequently Asked Questions document.
    • Please register here for the webinar.

Recent Announcements from Governor Abbott

Information from the Texas Department of Information Resources (DIR)

 

April 21, 2020

State Updates & Resources

  • DIR Virtual Town Hall: COVID-19 Series, Cybersecurity
    • TOMORROW, April 22, 11:00-12:00 CDT |Webinar/Virtual Town Hall| Register
    • This Town Hall is geared towards state and local government organizations, including school districts, junior colleges and public universities.
    • Considerations for cybersecurity and being cyber aware are even more important now as organizations are leveraging options for remote access in response to COVID-19. The Texas Department of Information Resources (DIR) is a key resource for guidance on how to securely work and learn remotely.
    • DIR will host a virtual presentation where they will provide information on the cybersecurity considerations most urgent for the situation at hand. DIR staff from the Office of the Chief Information Security Officer and the Network Operation Security Center will address your questions specific to cybersecurity and navigating COVID-19 cyber threats.
    • The DIR COVID-19 webpage is regularly updated with cybersecurity and IT information to help you meet the needs of those you serve: www.dir.texas.gov/covid19
  • Upcoming Governor’s Small Business Webinar Series
    • TOMORROW, April 22, 1:00 – 2:00 pm | REGISTER HERE
    • The Governor’s Small Business Webinar Series – North Texas will provide small business owners and entrepreneurs with timely, relevant, actionable information on COVID-19 recovery resources. Topics will include how the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act affects small businesses, as well as workforce-related topics surrounding hiring, benefits, payroll and unemployment. Businesses will also get the chance to connect with local experts and support systems.
    • This event is held in partnership with the Texas Workforce Commission, City of Texarkana – Economic Development, Texarkana USA Chamber of Commerce, Fort Worth Chamber of Commerce and Stephenville Chamber of Commerce.

Federal Updates & Resources

  • The Economic Impact of COVID-19 on America’s Rural and Underserved Communities: A Listening Session for Local Leaders
    • TOMORROW, April 22, 1:00 – 2:00 pm CDT | Register Here
    • Join HUD’s Office of Rural Housing and Economic Development (ORHED) as they engage rural community leaders in this open forum on the economic impact of Coronavirus (COVID-19) on America’s rural and underserved communities. This Peer-to-Peer conference call will offer leaders of rural local/regional/national nonprofits, Indian tribes, state and local governments, colleges/universities, and the private sector an opportunity to share their community-based challenges regarding COVID-19.
  • ACL Announces Nearly $1 Billion in CARES Act Grants to Support Older Adults and People with Disabilities During the COVID-19 Emergency
    • Today, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is announcing $955 million in grants from the Administration for Community Living (ACL) to help meet the needs of older adults and people with disabilities as communities implement measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19. The grants will fund home-delivered meals; care services in the home; respite care and other support to families and caregivers; information about and referral to supports; and more. TARC has reached out to HHSC and additional information will be forthcoming as soon as its available.
      • The CARES Act funding breakdown can be found in the full ACL bulletin here.
      • The majority of these additional funds ($905 million) are being awarded today to states, territories, and tribes for subsequent allocation to local service providers. Grant amounts are determined based on the formulas defined under the program authorizing statutes. The remaining $50 million will be awarded by the close of April.
  • ACL’s COVID-19 Resources: What’s New

 

April 20, 2020

Update: Governor’s Strike Force to Open Texas

An update from the Office of the Governor, Economic Development & Tourism Office is available here. The email contains information about the Governor’s Strike Force to Open Texas and “Retail-To-Go” Guidance, which is also linked below.

CDC Resources: Helping to Get and Keep America Open

The CDC has created a site to serve as an easily accessible repository of guidelines, tools, and resources from CDC and others for states, tribes, localities, and territories.

USDA Distance Learning & Telemedicine Grants (Funding)

The Distance Learning and Telemedicine (DLT) program helps rural communities use the unique capabilities of telecommunications to connect to each other and to the world, overcoming the effects of remoteness and low population density. For example, this program can link teachers and medical service providers in one area to students and patients in another.

  • Window 2 application deadlineJuly 13, 2020
    • The agency is providing this additional filing window for those that could not complete applications prior to the Window 1 deadline. This window also makes available up to $25 million received from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act). While the CARES Act requires these funds be used to prevent, prepare for, and respond to coronavirus, the agency believes that all DLT projects already serve that purpose.
  • Who may apply?
    • For both programs, eligible applicants include most entities that provide education or health care through telecommunications, including:
      • Most State and local governmental entities
      • Federally-recognized Tribes
      • Non-profits
      • For-profit businesses
      • Consortia of eligible entities
  • Webinar: Distance Learning & Telemedicine (DLT) Grant Program – Window 2 – FY2020

 

April 17, 2020

Governor Abbott Issues Executive Order Establishing Strike Force to Open Texas

Governor Greg Abbott today held a press conference where he issued three new Executive Orders to begin the process of reopening the state of Texas while revising hospital capacity and certain social distancing guidelines. Within the orders, select activities and services that pose minimal to no threat of spreading COVID-19 are allowed to reopen using a “Retail-To-Go” model, certain restrictions on surgeries have been loosened, and schools will remain closed for the remainder of the 2019-2020 academic year. Within these orders, the Governor has established the Strike Force to Open Texas—a team of nationally recognized medical experts and private and public leaders who will advise the Governor on safely and strategically reopening the state of Texas.

  • For more information about the Governor’s Strike Force to Open Texas, visit the strike force webpage. 
  • To read the press release, click here.

Coronavirus Emergency Supplemental Funding (CESF) Program

  • TARC has shared a second batch of questions received from members regarding the funding opportunity announced Wednesday by the Office of the Governor, Public Safety Office (PSO). We will share these responses when available.

HHSC AAA COVID-19 FAQ Webinar Recording

HHSC Access and Eligibility Services (AES) would like to share yesterday’s Area Agencies on Aging FAQ webinar with stakeholders.

  • Please click here for the webinar.
  • As a reminder, as AES continues to receive updates from our federal partners, the guidance provided during this webinar may change.

Federal Updates and Resources

  • CISA Essential Critical Worker Guidance Version 3 Released
    • The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) has released Version 3.0 of the Essential Critical Infrastructure Workers list.
      • Version 3.0 includes a reorganization of the section around Healthcare and Public Health and more detail to clarify essential workers; emphasis for Emergency Medical Services workers; and adds lawyers and legal aid workers.
      • Also included is language focused on sustained access and freedom of movement; a reference to the CDC guidance on safety for critical infrastructure workers; and a statement saying sick employees should avoid the workplace and the workforce.
      • In worker categories, all references to “employees” or “contractors” have been changed to “workers.”
      • Other additions include a reference to the USCG Marine Safety Information Bulletin on essential maritime workers; clarified language including vehicle manufacture; and many other small changes to clarify language.
  • FEMA Rumor Control
    • Rumors change with the days during this pandemic. FEMA is working to help clarify and provide ground truth to the public on what is truly happening at the federal level to ensure the safety and health of its citizens. Please send this Rumor Control link to your communities to not only stop the spread of the virus, but to stop the spread of the rumors!

 

April 16, 2020

Coronavirus Emergency Supplemental Funding (CESF) Program, FY2020 PSO Q&A

 TARC e-Learning: Responding to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) Disaster: Price Gouging and Consumer Scams

  • TOMORROW, April 17, 2020 from 10:30 am – 12:00 pm CST
  • When disasters like the Coronavirus (COVID-19) strike, the best of our communities are brought to the forefront as people join together with cooperation, aid, and compassion. Unfortunately, there are criminals who want to take advantage of troubling circumstances like COVID-19 to steal from hard-working Texans through price gouging and scams. The Office of the Texas Attorney General works to protect Texans from such fraud and abuse by accepting complaints, investigating and prosecuting these crimes, and educating Texans how to identify, report, and avoid these scams. Tune into this webinar with Texas Attorney General staff Jennifer Jackson, Chief of the Consumer Protection Division, and Amanda Sanders, Director of Outreach, to learn the latest on price gouging and scams related to COVID-19, what to do if you encounter them, and how to educate others to be on the lookout.
  • Register for the webinar here.

 FEMA Resources for Local Governments

  • FEMA Announces Free Access to GIS Software and Licensed Datasets in Response to COVID-19
    • On March 28, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) announced that through the DHS Enterprise License Agreement with Esri, DHS/FEMA is able to extend that agreement to non-Federal governmental partners during incidents of national significance, which includes COVID-19.
    • State, local, tribal and territorial governmental entities can now obtain free access to Esri software for up to 6 months to help respond to COVID-19.
    • Information
  • FEMA releases Disaster Financial Management Guide
    • All jurisdictions, regardless of size, need to develop and implement disaster financial management considerations and practices to track, calculate and justify the costs of an emergency; support local reimbursement reconciliation; avoid de-obligation of grant funding; and effectively fund and implement recovery projects and priorities. The Disaster Financial Management Guide identifies the capabilities and activities necessary to prepare and successfully implement disaster financial management while maintaining fiscal responsibility throughout response and recovery operations. Fiscal and grant regulations are strict and apply to all jurisdictions, so it is imperative that jurisdictions have robust scalable, flexible and adaptable disaster financial management plans and processes in place pre-disaster for all types of incidents.
    • The document contains concepts, principles and resources that are applicable to the current operational environment and ongoing COVID-19 response and recovery efforts.
    • Please contact FEMA at NPD-Planning@Fema.dhs.gov for any questions or support on this guide.

 

April 15, 2020

*Funding Announcement: Coronavirus Emergency Supplemental Funding (CESF) Program, FY2020*

The Office of the Governor, Public Safety Office, Criminal Justice Division has released the Coronavirus Emergency Supplemental Funding (CESF) Program funding announcement. The RFA is available on eGrants (https://egrants.gov.texas.gov/fundopp.aspx).

PSO is requesting that this information be shared by regions with all your city and county contacts.

If you or your jurisdictions have any questions, please send those to TARC so they may be shared with PSO and the responses will be shared among the network.

AES AAA COVID-19 Check-In Webinar and Conference Call

  • TOMORROW, April 16,  2020, at 10:30 am
  • Please click here to register.

The Economic Impact of COVID-19 on America’s Rural and Underserved Communities:

  • A Listening Session for Local Leaders, April 22
  • Join HUD’s Office of Rural Housing and Economic Development (ORHED) as we engage rural community leaders in this open forum on the economic impact of Coronavirus (COVID-19) on America’s rural and underserved communities. This Peer-to-Peer conference call will offer leaders of rural local/regional/national nonprofits, Indian tribes, state and local governments, colleges/universities, and the private sector an opportunity to share their community-based challenges regarding COVID-19. Please RSVP by email to rhed@hud.gov no later than close of business on April 20, 2020. Please include your name and organization.

SBA Small Business Guidance & Loan Resources

Economic Development Administration Fraud Alert

  • EDA advises the public of recent incidents of fraudulent emails, letters, or other communications sent to individuals offering to provide EDA grants in exchange for money or personal information. The scammers behind these fraudulent communications often pose as EDA employees or agents in an attempt to extract payment. Please note that EDA does not provide grants or other forms of financial assistance or benefits (including unemployment benefits) to individuals and does not ask individuals to disclose personal information. In addition, EDA does not require applicants to submit a processing or other fee.
    • EDA grants can only be obtained by following the procedures described in the Notices of Funding Opportunities provided for the programs listed on our Funding Opportunities page: https://www.eda.gov/funding-opportunities/.
  • If you believe you have been the victim of one of these scams, please contact the Department of Commerce Office of Inspector General at https://www.oig.doc.gov/Pages/Hotline.aspx and submit a report.
  • For more information on grant fraud and grant-related scams, please see: https://www.grants.gov/web/grants/learn-grants/grant-fraud.html.

 

April 14, 2020

TDEM COVID-19 Recovery Coordination Call FAQs

  • The DR-4485 Recovery Coordination Calls are hosted by TDEM and held daily at 3:00 pm. (This was also shared in yesterday’s update.) TDEM has placed questions received on the call and their responses in the Frequently Asked Questions folder, which can be accessed by clicking here or visiting the link below:
  • These resources will be updated throughout the coming weeks with additional responses to questions.

Governor’s Small Business Webinar Series

  • Tomorrow, Wednesday, April 15 from 1:00 pm – 2:00 pm
  • The Governor’s Small Business Webinar Series will provide Texas small business owners and entrepreneurs with timely, relevant, actionable information on COVID-19 recovery resources such as Paycheck Protection Program, EIDL Loan Advance, SBA Express Bridge Loans, and SBA Debt Relief. Businesses will also get the chance to connect with local experts and support systems. Featured speakers will include the U.S. Small Business Administration and area Small Business Development Centers.
  • Click here to register.

 TARC e-Learning: Responding to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) Disaster: Price Gouging and Consumer Scams

  • Friday, April 17, 2020 from 10:30 am – 12:00 pm
  • When disasters like the Coronavirus (COVID-19) strike, the best of our communities are brought to the forefront as people join together with cooperation, aid, and compassion. Unfortunately, there are criminals who want to take advantage of troubling circumstances like COVID-19 to steal from hard-working Texans through price gouging and scams. The Office of the Texas Attorney General works to protect Texans from such fraud and abuse by accepting complaints, investigating and prosecuting these crimes, and educating Texans how to identify, report, and avoid these scams. Tune into this webinar with Texas Attorney General staff Jennifer Jackson, Chief of the Consumer Protection Division, and Amanda Sanders, Director of Outreach, to learn the latest on price gouging and scams related to COVID-19, what to do if you encounter them, and how to educate others to be on the lookout.
  • Register for the webinar HERE.

DIR Virtual Town Hall: COVID-19 Series, Cybersecurity

  • Wednesday, April 22nd, 11:00-12:00 CDT |Webinar/Virtual Town Hall| Register
  • This Town Hall is geared towards state and local government organizations, including school districts, junior colleges and public universities.
  • Considerations for cybersecurity and being cyber aware are even more important now as organizations are leveraging options for remote access in response to COVID-19. The Texas Department of Information Resources (DIR) is a key resource for guidance on how to securely work and learn remotely.
  • DIR will host a virtual presentation where they will provide information on the cybersecurity considerations most urgent for the situation at hand. DIR staff from the Office of the Chief Information Security Officer and the Network Operation Security Center will address your questions specific to cybersecurity and navigating COVID-19 cyber threats.
  • The DIR COVID-19 webpage is regularly updated with cybersecurity and IT information to help you meet the needs of those you serve: www.dir.texas.gov/covid19

Treasury Department Provides Application Information for State and Local CARES Funding

  • The Treasury Department is beginning to roll out state and local payments from the $150 Coronavirus Relief Fund included in the CARES Act. States, the District of Columbia, territories, and eligible units of local government will need to fill out an application to receive funds, which can then be used for COVID-19-related expenditures that were incurred between March 1, 2020 and December 30, 2020 that were not already accounted for in recently-approved budgets. Amounts paid to States, the District of Columbia, U.S. Territories, and eligible units of local government are based on population as provided in the CARES Act. View the Treasury’s Census Data and Methodology information. A unit of local government eligible for direct payment includes a county, municipality, town, township, village, parish, borough, or other unit of general government below the State level with a population that exceeds 500,000. View the Treasury’s list of eligible local government units

USDA Unveils Tool to Help Rural Communities Address the COVID-19 Pandemic

  • U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue unveiled a one-stop-shop of federal programs that can be used by rural communities, organizations and individuals impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. The COVID-19 Federal Rural Resource Guide is a first-of-its-kind resource for rural leaders looking for federal funding and partnership opportunities to help address this pandemic. Secretary Perdue announced, “This resource guide will help our rural leaders, whether they are in agriculture, education, health care or any other leadership capacity, understand what federal assistance is available for their communities during this unprecedented time.”

 

April 13, 2020

Governor Abbott, Goldman Sachs, LiftFund Announce $50 Million in Loans For Texas Small Businesses (press release linked)

Governor Greg Abbott today announced that Goldman Sachs and the LiftFund, along with other community development financial institutions (CDFIs), are partnering to provide $50 million in loans to small businesses in Texas that have been affected by COVID-19 as part of the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses program. These loans, made through the U.S. Small Business Administration’s (SBA) Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), will primarily be used for payroll so that employees can continue to receive paychecks and small businesses can retain their employees and will be partially or wholly forgiven. Business owners can apply for a PPP loan and find more information about the program on the LiftFund website. 

TDEM Daily COVID-19 Call

  • The Texas Department of Emergency Management (TDEM) is holding a daily COVID-19 Recovery Coordination Call.
    • The call takes place at 3:00 pm Central daily.
  • A calendar invite with call information is attached. Access information can also be found below.

Area Agency on Aging Services Q&A

The Administration for Community Living (ACL) posted a document with Q&A from their April 1, 2020 call with State Units on Aging. The information includes guidance and resources on senior nutrition services, program flexibility available as a result of major disaster declarations, and information about time frames for expenditures. (ACL grants states some flexibility in program administration so not all waivers discussed may be available for AAAs in Texas)

 Additional Resources

 

April 9, 2020

Updates from the Office of the Governor

Operations and Procedures

State Agency Updates

  • AAA Updates from HHSC
    • HHSC Access and Eligibility Services (AES) held their weekly webinar with AAA stakeholders today to provide guidance and answer questions received concerning OAAA programs amid COVID-19.
      • To view the webinar, please click here.
    • As HHSC continues to receive updates from their federal partners, the guidance provided during this webinar may change.
    • HHSC will be working to distribute the updated AES Area Agencies on Aging COVID-19 Frequently Asked Questions document in the upcoming days. If you have any additional questions, please submit them to the AAA Help Desk (AAA.Help@hhsc.state.tx.us) and copy TARC so we may assist with routing questions.

 

April 7, 2020

Office of the Governor

  • Governor Abbott Announces Temporary Closure Of State Parks And Historic Sites
    • Governor Greg Abbott has directed the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) and the Texas Historical Commission (THC) to close all state parks and historic sites as part of the state’s efforts to strengthen social distancing practices and prevent gatherings of large groups of people. Historic sites and state parks will close to the public starting at 5:00 PM this evening and will reopen at the direction of the Governor. 
    • See full announcement here.
  • Governor Abbott to Provide Update on Coronavirus Response
    • Governor Greg Abbott will provide an update on the state’s response to COVID-19 on Wednesday, April 8th at 12:00 PM in the auditorium of the State Capitol. 
    • The Governor will be joined by Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) Commissioner John Hellerstedt, MD, Texas Division of Emergency Management (TDEM) Chief Nim Kidd, and Executive Vice Chancellor for Health Affairs of the University of Texas (UT) System John Zerwas, MD.
    • The event is a press conference and should be carried by most major local media outlets.

Texas Comptroller Glenn Hegar

Today, Comptroller Hegar discussed the coronavirus’s impact on the state economy. The conversation can be seen using the link below.

Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) Update

Additional guidance has been issued by the Department of Labor in their question and answer document. Additional information can be found here.

Small Business Administration (SBA) Assistance Program Resources

The Small Business Administration has a website outlining the forms of support included in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act. The two most frequently used by small-business owners are the Paycheck Protection Program and the Economic Injury Disaster Loan Advance. The PPP process will go through banks while the EIDL program involves an online application. An applicant may not use money from both programs to pay the same expenses. There is also an SBA hotline, 800-659-2955, which operates from 7 a.m. until 7 p.m. Central Time which is experiencing high call volume.

  • Webinar Tomorrow: SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program
    • The U.S. Small Business Administration Dallas/Fort Worth District Office is hosting live webinars on Wednesdays to discuss the Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program. The next webinar will take place TOMORROW at 2:30 pm.
  • National Conference of State Legislatures
  • Additional Assistance for Small Businesses
    • Texas Agricultural Finance Authority
      • The Texas Agricultural Finance Authority (TAFA) was created in 1987 (through HB 49) as a public authority within the Texas Department of Agriculture (TDA). Through the Agricultural Loan Guarantee (ALG) program, TAFA provides loan guarantees to lenders for eligible applicants who wish to establish or enhance their farm and/or ranch operation or agriculture-related business.
      • The ALG program may be an option for agricultural businesses that are ineligible for the Small Business Administration’s Relief Programs. For those seeking financing, the first step is to visit with a lender as TDA does not issue any loans directly to a borrower. The lender will submit the application to TDA on behalf of the borrower. If you have any questions, please email grants@texasagriculture.gov.
      • An overview of the Agricultural Loan Guarantee is available here

Additional Resources

  • H-GAC Webinar – Telework 101: Regional Snapshot, Benefits and Best Practices 
    • H-GAC’s next Brown Bag Lunch Series event features Jamila Owens, manager of the Travel Demand Management program for the Houston-Galveston Area Council. Jamila will discuss the benefits of teleworking, provide a snapshot of teleworking in the H-GAC region, and share best practices for both employees and employers.
      • Join H-GAC at noon, April 13 as Jamila discusses teleworking in the age of COVID-19 and beyond.
      • To access the Zoom webinar, please click here  April 13 at noon.
  • COVID-19 Updates from the Administration for Community Living (ACL)
    • This email contains several updates to programs administered by the Area Agencies on Aging, including webinars, technical assistance and FAQs, tools and resources.

 

April 6, 2020

*DSHS Statewide COVID-19 Update Call—NEW DIAL-IN*

The DSHS COVID-19 Daily Call for Public Health and Medical Partners and Emergency Management/Government Officials has been modified. Beginning today, these calls will take place Mondays, Wednesdays & Fridays at 4:00 pm. Please delete all previous calendar invites. The call access information is below.

  • Dial-In: 800-289-0462
  • Passcode: 805539

Operational Update

The link below is an example of an update sent to COG staff by the DETCOG Executive Director.

TDEM Local Officials Resources

As a reminder, TDEM urges local governments to track all expenditures related to COVID-19. To assist with these efforts, a webpage has been created with resources to assist local jurisdictions and emergency management professionals. The website linked below includes information about COVID-19 Cost Tracking, a sample cost tracking report and a video tutorial on cost tracking.

 Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ)

The TCEQ shared the following message from Chairman Jon Niermann regarding COVID-19 response.

CDC Updates

 

April 3, 2020

DPS TX COVID-19 Shelter in Place

Legal Resources:

    • “Authorized local officials may now receive legal advice from the Office of Attorney General concerning Coronavirus. In light of the Governor’s recent disaster declaration, the following local officials may now request legal advice from the Office of the Attorney General concerning the coronavirus:
      • the emergency management director designated under Section 418.1015 for the political subdivision;
      • the county judge or a commissioner of a county subject to the declaration; or
      • the mayor of a municipality subject to the declaration.
    • Only these officials are authorized to request advice. Moreover, legal advice may only be requested concerning issues related to disaster mitigation, preparedness, response, and recovery concerning the coronavirus. Authorized local officials may request such legal advice by sending an email to disaster-counsel@oag.texas.gov, or by making a web request online.”
  • The State Bar is proud to join in partnership with 13 legal aid, access to justice, and volunteer organizations around the state help low-income Texans with civil legal problems resulting from the pandemic. The State Bar is actively promoting its statewide disaster legal assistance hotline—800-504-7030. The hotline connects callers with legal aid providers in their area to seek guidance on matters such as bankruptcy and debt-collection; unemployment applications and appeals; mortgage or foreclosure issues; landlord-tenant problems; and others. Read the news release on the partnership here.

Health & Human Services Commission Updates

  • HHSC AAA COVID-19 Frequently Asked Questions
    • The HHSC Area Agencies on Aging COVID-19 Frequently Asked Questions document from yesterday’s conference call is available by clicking the link below.
      • AAA COVID-19 FAQs – 4.3.20
      • Updates to this document include information shared during the April 2nd HHSC AES AAA COVID-19 Weekly Webinar & Conference Call.
  • Mark Your Calendar: HHSC AES AAA COVID-19 Reporting Guidance Update
    • Monday, April 6, 2020, 3:00 PM CDT
      • This webinar will provide AAAs additional guidance on reporting COVID-19 related funding. AES staff will walk stakeholders through the process of reporting meals and answer any related questions.
    • Please register here for the webinar.
  • Mark Your Calendar: HHSC AES AAA COVID-19 Weekly Webinar and Conference Call
    • Thursday, April 9, 2020, 10:30 AM CDT
      • During this conference call, AES staff will provide additional guidance related to the COVID-19 emergency period and review the updated Frequently Asked Questions document.
    • Please register here for the webinar.

 Texas Department of Information Resources

CDC Frequently Asked Questions

 

April 2, 2020

State Agency Updates

  • Office of the Governor, Public Safety Office FY20 Coronavirus Emergency Supplemental Funding (CESF) program

The Office of the Governor, Public Safety Office shared the information below. The email can be viewed here.

    • As some of you are aware, the $2T “Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security” (CARES) Act authorized $850M for the establishment of the FY20 Coronavirus Emergency Supplemental Funding (CESF) program to be administered through the Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA). This program has two aspects: local allocations and a state allocation.
    • Local Allocations:
      • Recipients of a local allocation must apply directly to BJA in order to receive those funds.
      • The federal application deadline is May 29, 2020.  Please direct these agencies to BJA.
    • State Allocation:
      • A significant portion of the State’s award will be directed towards state agencies as part of a statewide COVID-19 response. PSO is currently assessing statewide needs and is in the process of finalizing the federal application to BJA. While PSO does intend to release a local Request For Applications (RFA), the eligibility criteria, allowable activities, and funding set aside have yet to be determined. At this time, please do not direct agencies to our office for funding requests. PSO will be sending additional communications regarding this program once the federal award has been received along with all relevant information. Thanks again for everyone’s patience as we work through this new program.
  • TxCDBG Program Guidance and Applications – Social Distancing

The email linked below includes guidance on changes made to TxCDBG programs to align with social distancing guidelines.

  • Office of the State Long-Term Care Ombudsman
  • TARC is communicating with the State Long-Term Care Ombudsman about CARE Act funding under the Older Americans Act specifically related to Long-Term Care Ombudsman programs (estimated to be around $1 million). Guidance is expected from ACL soon and her office will develop guidance for host agencies and ombudsmen on eligible expenditures.
  •  Texas Commission on Environmental Quality

Please see the following message shared by TCEQ this afternoon:

    • TCEQ has prepared regulatory guidance and is taking steps to minimize the impact of COVID-19 on both our staff and our customers. To safeguard our employees and yet maintain services, the agency is staffing a skeleton crew and has instituted teleworking through Monday, May 4, for those functions that can be performed at home. Please visit our COVID-19 webpage to keep up to date on our guidance and on potential impacts.
  •  Governor’s Economic Development & Tourism Office

The Governor’s Economic Development & Tourism Office shared an update on the CARES Act and Paycheck Protection Program today. The email includes information that may be of interest to small businesses and non-profits in your regions and can be found at the link below.

Additional Resources

Below is a link to a document your regions can reference to ensure your interactions with the media and the communities you serve are as helpful as possible. This was created for TARC and the COGs by Elizabeth Christian Public Relations, an Austin-based public relations firm.

 

April 1, 2020

Operations & Procedures Please consult your legal counsel. Each region’s policies and procedures vary and any information provided here are examples only.

  • PRPC Leave Policy Updates (Previously shared)
  • DETCOG Leave Policy Language
    • The following language is included in DETCOG’s personnel policy to cover special situations, including those that may arise with regard to the coronavirus.
      • Administrative Leave. The executive director may authorize administrative leave, with or without pay, when warranted by unforeseen circumstances not otherwise provided for in these policies.
  • Virtual Meetings Please review your agendas for compliance with the Open Meetings Act and any modifications granted as a result of COVID-19. Please consult local counsel or reach out to TARC for assistance.
    • TARC’s virtual meeting platforms are available for your region’s use. If an Executive Director was unable to join the TARC EDs’ Council virtual meeting yesterday, please reach out to me for the recording.
    • Examples of COG Board Agendas provided by regions:
      • HOTCOG (See MAR2020Agenda 1)
        • The change made to the normal agenda was the inclusion of the teleconferencing number. After everyone called in to the number, the President had a roll call to ensure a quorum was present on the call.
      • ATCOG Board Agenda
      • ETCOG
        • The Executive Committee Agenda Package 4.2.2020 was distributed to the ETCOG Board by email last week. The cover memo to the Executive Committee members sets forth the conference call options (teleconference or computer).
        • SCOG-Admini20040115140  is the public posting receipt ETCOG received from the Secretary of State’s office. The conference call number is included on the posting so members of the public can call in and participate in the meeting.
        • The meeting agenda, complete with conference call bridge information, is posted on the ETCOG website under Open Meetings.
        • Upon conclusion of the meeting, ETCOG will post the audio recording to its website.
      • SETRPC (See 3.18.2020 Executive Committee Notice and Agenda)

HHSC Access and Eligibility Services (AES) Stakeholder AAA COVID-19 Webinar

  • Thursday, April 2, 2020 from 1:30 to 3:00 pm CST
  • To register for the webinar, please click here.
  • During this call, HHSC will be updating previously shared information due to the Major Disaster Declaration and federal guidance. AES staff will be providing updates on the following topics:
    • Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA)
      • The Families First Coronavirus Response Act (H.R. 6201) provides an additional $250,000,000 in funding for the Older Americans Act (OAA) nutrition services programs.
    • Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act
      • The CARES Act provides an additional $955 million directed to Administration for Community Living (ACL) programs. ACL is still developing guidance for the CARES Act. The expectation is that ACL will allocate the funds based on their existing interstate funding formula. In addition to this supplemental funding, the act also includes a waiver that will allow 100% of the funds to be transferred between congregate and home-delivered meal programs.
    • AES Area Agencies on Aging COVID-19 Frequently Asked Questions Document

 Additional Resources

    • National League of Cities- COVID-19: Local Action Tracker
      • The National League of Cities and Bloomberg Philanthropies have teamed up to collect and share actions taken by local leaders in response to the COVID-19 Pandemic. The goal is to ensure local decision-makers have the information they need to lead their communities through this crisis.

 

March 31, 2020

Governor Abbott Issues Executive Order, Implements Statewide Essential Services And Activities Protocols

The Executive Order and a summary are available here.

Statewide COVID-19 Mental Health Support Line

Texas Health and Human Services has launched a 24/7 statewide mental health support line to help Texans experiencing anxiety, stress or emotional challenges due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This new resource offers COVID-19-related mental health support for all Texans. People can call the Statewide COVID-19 Mental Health Support Line 24 hours a day, 7 days a week toll-free at 833-986-1919.

    • For general health-related information and precautions on COVID-19, people can visit the DSHS webpage and the CDC webpage. To stay up-to-date on the latest news impacting HHS services and regulated providers, people can visit the HHS COVID-19 webpage

FEMA Daily Digest Bulletin

This FEMA Daily Digest Bulletin contains links to several resources that may be of assistance to you or your communities, including a link to FEMA’s Coronavirus Rumor Control page which is linked below.

 

March 30, 2020

A reminder of the DSHS COVID-19 Dashboard: https://www.dshs.texas.gov/coronavirus/

State Agency Updates

 Federal/National Updates

  • U.S. Department of Labor

The U.S. Department of Labor Wage and Hour Division provides information on common issues employers and employees face when responding to COVID-19, and its effects on wages and hours worked under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), job-protected leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), and paid sick leave and expanded family and medical leave under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA). Fact sheets, posters and more can be found at the website below.

The US House Ways and Means Committee developed the following Quick Glance document which outlines employer paid leave requirements in the FFCRA.

 

March 27, 2020

TARC COG Operations Continuity Webinar

Thank you to everyone who was able to join us for TARC e-Learning: You’ve enacted your COG’s Continuity Plan, Now What? yesterday and special appreciation to the Executive Directors and staff from AACOG, CVCOG, H-GAC and SETPRC for sharing your insight, experiences and resources with the TARC network. Below is a link to the webinar recording, as well as resources referenced or shared on the call.

TARC Executive Directors’ Council Conference Call

We’ve set up virtual space for the TARC Executive Directors’ Council to visit next week and interact with the Economic Development Administration.

  • TARC Executive Directors’ Council Conference Call
    • Tue, Mar 31, 2020 2:00 PM – 3:00 PM (CDT)
  • TARC will be using its virtual meeting platform to allow for video chat and document sharing.

“Stay Home, Stay Safe” Orders

  • Many Texas cities and counties have issued “stay home, stay safe” orders in response to the pandemic. The State Bar is collecting the orders here as a service to members and the public. It’s important to note that these orders generally provide exceptions for essential services, including the provision of legal services.

OAAA Releases Notification of Funds Available for AAAs

  • The FY2020 NFAs have been placed on the Secure FTP site https://sftp.hhs.texas.gov in the FY2020 NFA folders for each AAA.
  • The FY2020 NFAs placed on the FTP site for each AAA includes NFA #14 – Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) – COVID-19 Title III-C1 and C2.
  • The announcement from OAAA is available here.

Public Safety Office (PSO) Update #2.2 for VOCA Grantees

  • Please see the email below from the Office of the Governor, Public Safety Office (PSO) sent to all grant officials with an active VOCA grant.

Greetings,

We are reaching out to you to provide an update to our last email sent to all grant recipient’s on March 23, 2020. The Public Safety Office (PSO) was notified by the Office for Victims of Crime (OVC) on March 26, 2020 that it was extending the due date for the 2nd quarter VOCA performance reports. As stated in our earlier communications with grantees and stakeholders, any flexibility by our funders would be extended to our grant recipients. In light of OVC’s generous extension we will now move the due date for the VOCA January through March reporting period to May 30, 2020. Please note that the due date in eGrants on the reporting tabs will remain April 15, 2020, but the PSO will refrain from placing funding holds until after the new due date of May 30, 2020. The chart below provides amended progress reporting due dates for ALL PSO fund sources.  If you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to contact your Grant Manager for guidance. In closing, we thank you again for all that you are doing to maintain services for the victims of crime in Texas.

Fund Source Reporting Period Original Due Date Amended Due Date
JAG January 1 – March 31 April 15 June 15
RSAT January 1 – March 31 April 15 June 15
PSN January 1 – March 31 April 15 June 15
VOCA January 1 – March 31 April 15 May 30
VAWA Calendar Year 2019 February 28 April 30
State-Funded Programs September 1 – February 29 March 20 June 15

 

DSHS  Statewide EMS Conference Call

  • The Texas Department of State Health Services, Office of EMS and Trauma System will be hosting a statewide conference call for emergency medical service (EMS) personnel throughout Texas on Monday, March 30 @ 1 pm. Access information can be found below. Please distribute to EMS personnel throughout your networks.

Housing Stability Policies

National Association of Regional Councils (NARC) Analysis of the federal CARES Act (H.R. 748)

 

March 26, 2020

The Department of State Health Services has launched a digital COVID-19 case dashboard.

Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) Update

  • United States Department of Labor Resources

The United States Department of Labor (USDOL) has a page titled “COVID-19 and the American Workplace” intended to assist employers with meeting responsibilities under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA).

    • Click here for the recently released questions and answers.
    • As a reminder, the effective date of these provisions is April 1, 2020.
      • Federal regulations required by USDOL have not been released at this time but information on enforcement plans can be found here.
      • Please also note the required poster in the workplace and review information about where and how to post here.
    • We know many national associations are engaging in dialogue with USDOL and others about this new law. A national dialogue page has been put up to gather input here in development of USDOL’s compliance materials and outreach strategies through March 29th.

 

Operations & Procedures Please consult your legal counsel. Each region’s policies and procedures vary and any information provided here are examples only.

 Agency Updates

 

March 25, 2020

Governor Abbott Announces Approval Of Major Disaster Declaration (Text from press release below)

AUSTIN – Governor Greg Abbott today released a statement thanking President Trump for issuing a Major Disaster Declaration for the State of Texas. This announcement comes after the Governor requested the declaration—citing the need for additional federal assistance to save lives, to protect property, public health, and safety, and to lessen or avert the threat of COVID-19.

“Texas is aggressively pursuing and implementing all necessary strategies to limit the impact of COVID-19, and I thank President Trump for his swift action to issue a Major Disaster Declaration for the State of Texas,” said Governor Abbott. “The President’s declaration opens up new sources of funding for individual and public assistance that will help Texas respond to this public health emergency and protect public health and safety.”

HHS Announces Grants to Provide Meals for Older Adults

  • The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is announcing $250 million in grants from the Administration for Community Living (ACL) to help communities provide meals for older adults. The Families First Coronavirus Response Act, signed into law by President Trump on March 18, 2020, provided the additional funding for the nutrition services programs authorized by the Older Americans Act (OAA) of 1965.
    • Funding has been provided to states, territories, and tribes for subsequent allocation to local meal providers.
    • Grant amounts are determined based on the population-based formulas defined in the Older Americans Act.
    • Texas has been allocated $16.2 million.
  • Announcement from the Administration for Community Living.
  • Press Release from the Office of the Governor
  • More information will be shared once received from HHSC’s Office of Area Agencies on Aging (OAAA).

TARC e-Learning: You’ve Enacted your COG Continuity Plan, Now What?

  • TARC is hosting an information sharing webinar featuring a panel of your colleagues and Human Resources experts who will address operational changes implemented, frequently asked questions received from staff and any other information that has been helpful while navigating this new work environment.

Synopsis of Telecommunications and Cable Television Provider Responses to COVID-19

  • Connected Nation Texas has been tracking what internet service providers are doing to improve your access during these difficult times. Internet Service Providers (ISPs) across the Lone Star State have pledged to do a variety of things to relieve the strain on families and businesses.
  • Link to access compiled responses: https://connectednation.org/texas/provider-responses-to-covid-19/

SBA’s Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program for Businesses Impacted by COVID-19: Learn About It and How to Apply

National Cyber Security Alliance Webinars (Clink the links below for more information about each webinar)

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) Disaster Distress Helpline

 

March 24, 2020

Governor Abbott Announces Increased PPE Supply, Issues Executive Order To Strengthen Reporting Capabilities

Additional waivers Issued by the Governor

TARC e-Learning: You’ve Enacted your COG Continuity Plan, Now What? (calendar invite attached)

  • TARC is hosting an information sharing webinar featuring a panel of your colleagues and Human Resources experts who will address operational changes implemented, frequently asked questions received from staff and any other information that has been helpful while navigating this new work environment.

Operations & Procedures

Agency Updates

  • Commission on State Emergency Communications
    • As a reminder, the Commission will hold its 3/25 meeting telephonically. Information is below and a calendar invite is available here: CSEC Commission Meeting – Telephonic Open Meeting
      • Telephonic Open Meeting
      • Conference Bridge: 1-800-717-4201; User ID: 5953861#.
      • (Bridge will open at 9:45 A.M.)
  •  Texas Department of Agriculture (text from email below)

TxCDBG Stakeholders,

Attached, you will find a letter from Commissioner Miller regarding available supplies during the current public health emergency.  Although the letter is addressed to rural hospital administrators, the information may also be relevant to communities and emergency services providers. 

TDA’s economic development staff has also put together a COVID-19 Resource Guide which will be updated periodically.

TDA will continue to provide information as it becomes available to support communities during this time.

 

March 23, 2020

Governor Abbott Issues Executive Order Increasing Hospital Capacity, Announces Supply Chain Strike Force For COVID-19 Response

  • On Sunday, Governor Greg Abbott signed an Executive Order to expand hospital bed capacity as the state responds to the COVID-19 virus.
  • The Governor also suspended certain regulations as requested by the Texas Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC) to allow for increased occupancy of hospital rooms and announced the creation of a temporary Supply Chain Strike Force. Additional details may be found in the press release issued by the Governor’s Office, linked above.
  • In his press conference on Sunday, the Governor also indicated he was not issuing a statewide shelter in place order at this time. The Governor reiterated that local elected officials have the authority to implement more strict standards than those implemented by the state of Texas. Some regions have begun to see such orders issued by local jurisdictions.

TARC e-Learning: You’ve Enacted your COG Continuity Plan, Now What? (calendar invite attached)

  • TARC is hosting an information sharing webinar featuring a panel of your colleagues and Human Resources experts who will address operational changes implemented, frequently asked questions received from staff and any other information that has been helpful while navigating this new work environment.

Agency Updates

  • Office of the Governor, Public Safety Office (PSO)
    • PSO Updates to certain OOG-COG contractual requirements (Please read)
      • The email linked above includes information from the PSO about extending the deadline and/or waiving certain OOG-COG contractual requirements related to the Prioritization of State Homeland Security Program (SHSP) and Criminal Justice projects. 
      • PSO is NOT waiving the requirements entirely, just allowing postponement of certain elements. 
    • PSO Email to Grantees
      • Discusses PSO office and grant operations. TARC continues to gather questions to send to the PSO on behalf of members and will distribute responses as received.
    • Mass Email to Grantees (Please read)
      • Includes important information regarding additional costs that can be charged to grants, FSR/progress reporting due date extensions and additional guidance from Department of Justice’s Office of Justice Programs (OJP)
      • This email will go out to all grantees and those with pending applications.
      • NOTE: as discussed in this email, similar guidance has not been released by FEMA but the PSO has shared with FEMA and additional information will be shared if received.
      • Resource Request: Included in this document is a section titled “Allowability of salaries and other project costs” If your policies include language that addresses “unexpected or extraordinary circumstances” or are considering updates to your policies, please share language with TARC (Ginny) to assist other regions.

 Operations & Procedures

Additional Resources

 

March 20, 2020

*Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA)*

As you are all aware, on March 18th the President signed in to law the FFCRA which requires two types of paid employee leave, Paid Sick Leave and Paid FMLA Leave. As we all continue to navigate this together, I have compiled some resources for you to serve as a guide. Please pay attention to this act and be sure your teams are ready for possible implementation in its current forms on April 2nd, the FFCRAg DOES apply to government workers. We do know many national associations the represent public entities are working to seek changes to the act. As mentioned yesterday, TARC has reached out to NARC and NADO for other resources and have not yet heard from agencies you work with on this issue. Please watch for more developments and hopefully DOL guidance++ in future COVID-19 related e-mail blasts.

Operations & Policy Resources

  • H-GAC Remote Work Program Guidance (attachment)
    • See this memo shared with H-GAC staff regarding remote working operations.
  • H-GAC Webinar – Keeping Local Governments Moving (attachment)

 TARC e-Learning Webinar: You’ve Enacted your COG COOP, Now What?

    • TARC is hosting an information sharing webinar featuring a panel of your colleagues that will address operational changes implemented, frequently asked questions received from staff and any other information that has been helpful while navigating this new work environment.
      • Date: Thursday, March 26, 2020
      • Time: 2:00 pm Central Time
      • Click here to register for the webinar
      • To ensure this webinar is as useful as possible, we need your questions! Please send any COVID-19 HR-related questions you have to me or any member of the TARC team by noon Monday, 3/23 and we will share these with the panel for discussion on the webinar.

 Agency & Program Updates

 Additional Information & Resources 

  • Guidance on Critical Infrastructure Workforce
  • Texans Urged to Use 2-1-1 Texas Social Services Hotline For COVID-19 Information and Referrals
    • Texas Health and Human Services encourages all Texans in need of COVID-19 information and referrals to community resources to call the 2-1-1 Texas hotline 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Texans, no matter where they live, can dial 2-1-1 or (877) 541-7905 and select option 6 to get information and referrals to COVID-19 social services, including testing, community clinics, unemployment benefits and more. Texans can also dial 2-1-1 to find information about local community resources such as financial assistance for utilities or rent and food pantries, housing assistance, crisis counseling, utility payment assistance, and senior services. For more information on the state hotline, visit https://www.211texas.org/

Updates and Briefings

Daily DSHS COVID-19 Briefing on State Activities-4:00pm CST

Access Information: 

    • Dial-In: 800-289-0462
    • Passcode: 805539

 

March 19, 2020

Governor Abbott Announces State Public Health Disaster Declaration

Rather than summarize, please read both to ensure clarity and a link to the full press conference can be found here.

 SBA Emergency Declaration Requested

  • Governor Abbott has requested a designation from the Small Business Administration to allow Texas small businesses to apply for low-interest Economic Injury Disaster Loans to help provide relief from the costly impact of COVID-19.
    • COVID-19 Resource Website: https://www.sba.gov/page/coronavirus-covid-19-small-business-guidance-loan-resources
    • The Small Business Administration (SBA) has designated COVID-19 as a qualifying event for the provision of Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL) for businesses and private non-profits in affected communities. Texas is currently working with SBA to qualify for this declaration. Doing so requires information to be submitted to TDEM. Additional guidance may be found at the link below.

Governor Greg Abbott Virtual Town Hall Television Broadcast and Live-Stream

TODAY, March 19, 2020

7:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. CT

  • Guests:
  • Governor Greg Abbott
  • John Hellerstedt, Texas Department of State Health Services Commissioner
  • Nim Kidd, Chief of the Texas Division of Emergency Management
  • Imelda Garcia, Associate Commissioner of Laboratory and Infectious Disease Services at the Texas Department of State Health Services
  • Mike Morath, Texas Education Agency Commissioner 

Town Hall will be carried on the following Nexstar stations and websites:

Station Network Market Station Website Social
KRBC-TV NBC Abilene www.bigcountryhomepage.com @KRBCnews
KAMR-TV NBC Amarillo www.myhighplains.com @KAMRLocal4News
KXAN-TV NBC Austin www.kxan.com @KXAN_News
KVEO-TV NBC Brownsville www.kveo.com @kveotv23
KTSM-TV NBC El Paso www.ktsm.com @KTSMtv
KLBK-TV CBS Lubbock www.everythinglubbock.com @KLBKNews
KMID-TV ABC Midland/Odessa www.yourbasin.com @Local2NewsKMID
KSAN-TV NBC San Angelo www.conchovalleyhomepage.com @ksannews
KTAL-TV NBC Shreveport www.arklatexhomepage.com @NBC6News
KETK-TV NBC Tyler www.easttexasmatters.com @KETK
KWKT-TV Fox Waco www.fox44news.com @KWKTFOX44
KFDX-TV NBC Wichita Falls www.texomashomepage.com @TexomasHomepage
KIAH-TV CW Houston www.cw39.com @CW39Houston
KDAF-TV CW Dallas www.cw33.com @CW33

Note: In addition to the live television broadcast, viewers may also access a live-stream of the Town Hall online by visiting their local participating Nexstar station’s website.

TARC e-Learning: Communicating Amidst a Crisis

TARC Member HR Responses & Actions Amid COVID-19

  • TARC is working to coordinate an information sharing webinar featuring a panel of your colleagues that will address operational changes implemented, frequently asked questions received from staff and any other information that has been helpful while navigating this new work environment.
  • To ensure this webinar is as useful as possible, we need your questions! Please send any COVID-19 HR-related questions you have to me or any member of the TARC team by noon Monday, 3/23 and we will share these with the panel for discussion on the webinar.
  • Once the date and time are confirmed, more information will be shared.
  • TARC has reached out to NARC and NADO for additional resources related to the “Families First Coronavirus Response Act” passed at the federal level last night. We will share resources from the national associations or other sources when available.

TDEM resources and guidance for tracking costs related to COVID-19 for local government officials

AAA/COG Resource from Administration on Community Living (ACL)

TDA Announces Changes to Office Procedures (Text from email below)

Due to the current public health situation, TDA is currently practicing social distancing and working primarily from remote locations.  This will impact our communication with stakeholders in several ways:

  • Staff will use email as the primary method of contact. 
  • Staff will also check voicemail for their office phones once per day.  If you choose to contact us via phone, please allow at least 24 hours for response.
  • A skeleton crew will remain in the office to ensure access to various documentation not available electronically – we appreciate your patience as we coordinate to provide technical assistance.
  • TDA offices are closed to all visitors.  Staff will not be able to meet with stakeholders in the office or accommodate attending monitoring desk reviews at this time.  Conference calls and/or web-based meetings are available in lieu of in-person meetings.
  • Requests for Payment will continue to be processed, based on the contract information readily available.  Please note, however, that if additional concerns are identified once staff is able to access the full file, the Grant Recipient will still be responsible for remedying the issue.

Thank you for your patience and your understanding in the current environment. TDA is committed to continuing a high level of service as we all navigate these uncertain times.

TxCDBG Contact: Suzanne Barnard

Director for Community Development Block Grant Programs

Texas Department of Agriculture

Suzanne.Barnard@TexasAgriculture.gov | 512.463.6612

Attorney General Updates

Governor Abbott, TEA Announce Texas Students MealFinder Map

Full press release here: https://gov.texas.gov/news/post/governor-abbott-tea-announce-texas-students-mealfinder-map?fbclid=IwAR0OmkxGekIS35uEgsjMgjZcAZdv6IN0FX_5V8_2oOS3ZVrd2s-sxtv8R8M

Governor Greg Abbott and the Texas Education Agency (TEA) today announced a collaboration with local education agencies (LEA) on the Texas Students MealFinder Map which will allow Texas parents to locate LEA facilities serving meals in their communities.

This searchable online map will officially launch on Friday, March 20, and will include the address of each facility, as well as days and times meals will be served. The map will be available on the TEA website.

The TEA is asking LEAs and schools to complete an application through the Texas Department of Agriculture’s (TDA) website to be included in the map. The TDA will collect the information and share the data with the TEA on the locations and operational hours of meal service. The map will be updated continually as more meal sites are added across Texas.

County-Level Emergency Declarations

  • The National Association of Counties (NACo) has created a page with information about emergency declarations. The below County Explorer map includes links for each COVID-19 emergency declaration issued by counties or states. If your county or state has declared an emergency not reflected below, please reach out to research@naco.org with information, and if possible, links to official documents.

 

March 18, 2020

Procedures & Operations – Examples and resources to assist your organizations in developing communications and responding to staff inquiries.

Agency & Program Updates

As a reminder, to reduce redundancy at partner agencies and increase information sharing among the regions, we are asking that you and your staff route any questions you have about agency operations and programs through TARC. We will send those to the agencies for response and send those responses out to everyone so each region can have the benefit of the information.

    • AARP Live Q&A About the Coronavirus
      • Join AARP and government officials online this Thursday, March 19, 1 p.m. (ET), as they answer listeners’ questions about how to avoid coronavirus scams and find resources for family caregivers.
      • Click HERE to learn how to join this event.
  • Texas Register Changes Due to COVID-19: https://txregionalcouncil.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/Texas-Register-Changes-due-to-COVID-19-pandemic.pdf
    • The Texas Register sent out an email to agency liaisons about changes to their operations as a result of the coronavirus. The email is linked above.

 

March 17, 2020

Updates and Briefings

Daily DSHS COVID-19 Briefing on State Activities (Calendar Invite Attached)

  • Audience:

o    Public Health and Medical Partners

o    Emergency Management

o    Schools and Higher Education

o    Local and Elected Officials

  • UPDATED Access Information:
      • Beginning March 17, 2020, please call:
      • 800-368-1029
      • Passcode: 12876505

CDC Answering 20 Questions about COVID-19 at 1:00 pm ET (Noon Central Time) TOMORROW

  • The outbreak of COVID-19 is rapidly changing, creating a significant challenge for U.S. public health departments, schools, community organizations, and the public. This special webinar from CDC EPIC will discuss the current state of the outbreak, what CDC is doing to respond to the outbreak, and how partners, organizations, and the public can help. Closed captioning will be available.
  • Watch on Facebook:

o   You can participate in this live webinar through the CDC Emergency Preparedness and Response Facebook page on Wednesday, March 18 at 1:00 p.m. ET. (12:00 p.m. Central Time)

TARC e-Learning: Communicating Amidst a Crisis

As we all work to understand and navigate this ever-changing environment, stakeholders and citizens look to local governments for information. To assist COGs and their local jurisdictions communicate about COVID-19 and any other crisis that may strike, TARC will hold an e-Learning webinar to cover this very issue.

The webinar will be recorded and available for viewing for anyone unable to attend the live event. If there are specific questions you would like to have answered, please send those to kliledowty@txregionalcouncil.org and she will share those with the presenter.

We will be planning additional webinars to address challenges facing regions as the weeks continue. If you have an idea or expertise to share, please let us know.

Governor Greg Abbott Virtual Town Hall Television Broadcast and Live-Stream

Thursday, March 19, 2020

7:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. CT

  • Guests:
    • Governor Greg Abbott
    • John Hellerstedt, Texas Department of State Health Services Commissioner
    • Nim Kidd, Chief of the Texas Division of Emergency Management
    • Imelda Garcia, Associate Commissioner of Laboratory and Infectious Disease Services at the Texas Department of State Health Services
    • Mike Morath, Texas Education Agency Commissioner Town Hall will be carried on the following stations and websites:
Station Network Market Station Website Social
KRBC-TV NBC Abilene www.bigcountryhomepage.com @KRBCnews
KAMR-TV NBC Amarillo www.myhighplains.com @KAMRLocal4News
KXAN-TV NBC Austin www.kxan.com @KXAN_News
KVEO-TV NBC Brownsville www.kveo.com @kveotv23
KTSM-TV NBC El Paso www.ktsm.com @KTSMtv
KLBK-TV CBS Lubbock www.everythinglubbock.com @KLBKNews
KMID-TV ABC Midland/Odessa www.yourbasin.com @Local2NewsKMID
KSAN-TV NBC San Angelo www.conchovalleyhomepage.com @ksannews
KTAL-TV NBC Shreveport www.arklatexhomepage.com @NBC6News
KETK-TV NBC Tyler www.easttexasmatters.com @KETK
KWKT-TV Fox Waco www.fox44news.com @KWKTFOX44
KFDX-TV NBC Wichita Falls www.texomashomepage.com @TexomasHomepage
KIAH-TV CW Houston www.cw39.com @CW39Houston
KDAF-TV CW Dallas www.cw33.com @CW33

Note: In addition to the live television broadcast, viewers may also access a live-stream of the Town Hall online by visiting their local participating Nexstar station’s website.

 Public/Open Meetings

Governor & Attorney General Guidance on Remote Public Meetings

  • The Office of the Governor and the Attorney General released guidance on how governmental bodies may conduct public meetings using telephone or video conferencing. Please see the attached email. This item was shared earlier but included for your convenience.

Example of public meeting venue change notification

  • The Texas Department of Housing & Community Affairs recently updated the venue for a public meeting and sent out the attached email (Venue, format change for Public Hearing…) noting the venue change of a public meeting from in-person to webinar. As a result of the Governor’s declaration that video and phone conferences were acceptable ways to hold meetings in these unprecedented circumstances, this email may serve as an example of how to communicate venue changes with your stakeholders but please do what is best in your region.

Operations Resources

Remote Work Program Guidance Example – H-GAC

  • H-GAC shared remote work guidance developed for its staff in response to the updated guidelines announced yesterday by government officials. Each organization is different, but this may assist your regions and local governments in planning for and notifying staff of operational changes.

Business Operations Plan Example – TML Intergovernmental Risk Pool

  • In an effort to help slow the spread of the virus, we have developed a business disruption plan that follows recommendations by the CDC.
  • Click here to download the document in case your organization would like to use it as a sample plan.

 TML Intergovernmental Risk Pool COVID-19 Coverage Claims FAQ

 Remote Work Toolkit

  • Online meeting company LogMeIn is offering services to assist organizations in providing work from home and remote meeting options for free for 3 months for municipalities & non-profits. TARC has reached out to the company to obtain more information. If this is something your organization is interested in pursuing, please visit https://www.gotomeeting.com/work-remote and click “Get in Touch.”

Additional Information and Resources

Small Business Administration

  • COVID-19 Resource Website: https://www.sba.gov/page/coronavirus-covid-19-small-business-guidance-loan-resources
  • The Small Business Administration (SBA) has designated COVID-19 as a qualifying event for the provision of Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL) for businesses and private non-profits in affected communities. Texas is currently working with SBA to qualify for this declaration. Doing so requires information to be submitted to TDEM. Additional guidance may be found at the link below.
  • Economic Injury Disaster Loan Worksheet & Information: https://tdem.texas.gov/covid-19/

Public Access to State Agencies and Services

  • Many state agencies have altered their normal operations. The Houston Chronicle has posted information about agencies and their coronavirus-related service restrictions. The article may be found HERE.

Area Agencies on Aging

Older Americans Act Disaster Relief

Health Promotion and Disease Prevention

Senior Nutrition Program

State Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program

White House Coronavirus Guidelines for America

Regional Programs


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