April 6, 2020
This isn’t an easy time for anyone. And for so many in our community, it’s an incredibly difficult time. If you can, I ask you to look for ways to help others any way you can.
More than 1,500 families picked up emergency food boxes on Saturday from the Central Texas Food Bank distribution site in Northeast Austin. Austin musician Nakia Reynoso posted a video on Facebook showing a line of cars snaking down the frontage road of U.S. 290. It goes on and on and on. It’s just a stark and heartbreaking illustration of the essential service that our food bank is providing.
Austin’s Virtual Tip Jar lists almost 1,200 workers from bars, restaurants, hotels, coffee shops and other businesses who are now suddenly out of work. And Banding Together is helping musicians, production workers and others from the city’s live music venues. At some point, we’ve all appreciated the great food and drink, good music and friendly service that Austin has to offer, and this is an opportunity to show that appreciation to the folks who’ve taken care of us over the years.
There are countless community efforts that are serving basic needs. Here are a few suggestions:
Our community can and will get through this if we work together even as we’re apart.
Below are some other resources that might be helpful to you.
Health & Safety
If you think you may be sick, this website from Austin Public Health provides instructions about how to prevent spreading the virus to others and how to seek medical care and testing: http://www.austintexas.gov/article/covid-19-information-those-who-are-sick. If you believe you might have the virus, contact your health care provider or a local clinic and let them know your symptoms and any underlying conditions so they can help you with your testing/treatment. Also, it’s important to know that anyone without insurance can and should still get treatment by calling our local COVID-19 hotline at 512-978-8775. Under the recently passed federal legislation, all testing is fully covered, whether you are insured or not.
If you’re a Travis County resident who has lost your job or are uninsured, you could be eligible for healthcare services through Central Health, our local healthcare district. Give them a call at 512-978-8130.
During this time of uncertainty, it’s especially important that we all take care of our mental health too. Here are some tips and resources for the general public and for healthcare professionals: https://hhs.texas.gov/sites/default/files/documents/services/health/covid19-stress-tips.pdf. Also, Integral Care offers our community many resources to help, including a 24/7 crisis phone line–512.472.HELP (4357).
General Coronavirus Information:
Information for Healthcare Providers and Facilities:
Economic Impact of the Coronavirus:
Recently passed federal legislation known as the CARES Act will also help Texans who are hurting economically because of the coronavirus. The CARES Act will allow workers who did not qualify for unemployment benefits before, such as like self-employed workers, to qualify. Texas is still working with the federal government to implement the CARES Act, but you can find a summary of the legislation here: https://www.ncsl.org/ncsl-in-dc/publications-and-resources/coronavirus-stimulus-bill-states.aspx. For status updates on the unemployment benefits provisions, please check the Texas Workforce Commission’s website here: https://twc.texas.gov/news/covid-19-resources-job-seekers#unemploymentBenefits.
If you’ve had a hard time connecting with the Texas Workforce Commission, please know that the Commission is now offering staggered access to apply for unemployment benefits based on the first digit of your Area Code. For example, folks with a (512) area code should call or access the Unemployment Benefit Services Portal on Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 1pm to 5pm. In the meantime, please rest assured that the Commission has stated that no one will lose out on benefits if they are trying but failing to connect with the Workforce Commission in a timely fashion.
Please take care of yourselves. Stay at home. Work safe. Be careful.