Update on Coronavirus
April 16, 2020

I trust this email finds you and your family healthy and safe at home. I wanted to provide another update on our community's efforts to combat the spread of Coronavirus (COVID-19).

The "Stay Home, Work Safe" Order issued by Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo remains in affect until the end of the month. It is not yet known if the order will be extended, but I will keep you and our neighbors updated through our social media platforms and through this newsletter.

City and County Parks were closed during Easter holiday weekend, but are now open. All indoor spaces remain closed. The use of playgrounds, benches, workout and play equipment remains prohibited. And remember, keep dogs on a leash at all times, and always clean up after yourself and your pet. Help us keep our parks clean and safe for everyone!

Thank you for your patience and cooperation during this difficult time.

Robert Gallegos
Houston Council Member
District I
COVID Cases, and FREE Testing
As of Wednesday, April 15, the City of Houston reported 2,331 COVID-19 cases and 26 deaths. Statewide, there are 15,904 confirmed cases, and over 634,000 cases across the country. 

Today (April 16) is the third day the City of Houston's testing sites are available to ANYONE who wants to be tested for COVID-19. You no longer need to have symptoms, but you do need to call 832-393-4220 to be provided a unique identification code and directions on where to go. The call volume is high, so if you're not able to connect the first time please try again. 

Residents can also take an online self-assessment tool to help determine whether you may need further assessment or need to be tested for COVID-19. Visit www.ReadyHarris.org for more information.

 Who should be tested for COVID-19?
People with fever* above 100.4°F (38°C) and respiratory symptoms who:
  • Have had close contact** with someone diagnosed with COVID-19
  • Have other health conditions (diabetes, lung disease, heart disease, pregnancy)
  • Are age 60 and older
  • Are residents of nursing homes
  • Part of an investigation of a cluster or an outbreak
  • Are Healthcare workers/First responders
Food Distribution
HISD has continued its food distribution program this week at various schools throughout the district. Distribution is taking place outside in the parking lot and families must sign-in. For a complete list of sites, visit www.HoustonISD.org . The program will be reviewed throughout the week and extended as needed.

This Saturday, April 18, HISD will be partnering with the Houston Food Bank to organize a mass food distribution site from 4-7 p.m. in the parking lot of NRG Stadium. The goal is to accommodate working families who are unable to visit HISD-sponsored distribution sites on weekdays. The site is expected to distribute 3,000 food bags — or 90,000 pounds of food. Those who walk to the site must adhere to strict social distancing guidelines. There will be no forms to fill out.

The City of Houston is working with Gallery Furniture to provide care packages for seniors and disabled residents . If your are a senior or a resident with a disability, fill out a request form to receive a care package of toiletries and other non perishable foods delivered to your front door. Click here to submit your request . A request can also be made by calling 713-694-5570.

The Houston Parks Department continues its Curbside Meal Program for Youth, ages 1 to 18. The Curbside Meal distribution of a free snack and lunch will take place Monday – Friday from 1-3 p.m. The program is offered at 47 park community centers in the city.

The Tejano Center at 2950 Broadway continues to operate a free breakfast and lunch program for youth 18 and under. The program is operating as a drive-through service, Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to noon. Community Family Centers operates a small food pantry for families in need as well. For more information please call them at 713-923-2316. 

Additionally, Harris County Precinct 2 is distributing food at parks (for children only) and community centers (all ages). The program is operating as a drive-through service Monday through Friday on a first come, first serve basis. For more information, please contact Precinct 2 at 713-274-2222. 

Numerous organizations in our area have also partnered with the Houston Food Bank to operate several food distribution sites throughout the city. To find a food distribution site near you visit www.HoustonFoodBank.org or call their helpline at 832-369-9390.
Economic Impact Payments
With passage of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, the $2 trillion federal aid package, workers will receive a one-time Economic Impact Payment check of $1,200 for each adult making under $75,000 a year, $2,400 per couple earning under $150,000 a year, and $500 per child. 

Checks will be delivered directly by the IRS to most Americans who filed federal income tax returns in 2019 or 2018. Most people should receive their money by mid-April through direct deposit and in fact, many residents have already received their payment. 

If the IRS does not have your bank account and has not already sent your payment, you can submit your banking information for direct deposit by visiting: irs.gov/coronavirus/economic-impact-payments If the IRS doesn't have your bank information, it will send a paper check to your last known address. Those checks will likely be sent out starting at the end of April through early September.
Complete the 2020 Census TODAY!
The Census is happening NOW! Unfortunately, District I is reporting low response rates - only about 37% of our friends and neighbors have responded to the Census. The Census data will help determine billions of dollars in funding for our hospitals, emergency services, and healthcare programs - and we will need it to begin a strong recovery from the impacts of COVID-19.

Visit www.my2020Census.gov or call 1-844-330-2020 to get started - It's quick, easy, and safe. The 2020 Census does not ask whether you or anyone in your home is a U.S. citizen. Everyone living in the country, including non-citizens, counts. Complete the 2020 Census online TODAY !
Price Gouging is Illegal
We received questions and complaints about some businesses that are selling goods for unreasonably high prices. Price gouging is illegal in Texas, and a disaster declaration triggers tough penalties under the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act.

The State Attorney General (AG) has a complaint hotline as well as an online complaint form. Residents who believe they have encountered price gouging should call the AG’s complaint line at 800-621-0508 or file a complaint online: www.texasattorneygeneral.gov/consumer-protection
Stay Informed
Please continue to stay informed through official resources such as the Houston Office of Emergency Management’s Coronavirus webpage and Harris County Public Health. If you have any questions regarding COVID-19, the Houston Health Department has established a Call Center: 832-393-4220. Residents can also call the Harris Health Ask My Nurse line for COVID-19-related questions at 713-634-1110 from 9 a.m.-7 p.m., 7 days a week. 

The District I office remains open and is here to serve residents. While our City Hall office is closed to foot traffic, our staff is working remotely from home. Please continue to send emails to districti@houstontx.gov or call 832-393-3011 if you need assistance with a city service. We are committed to providing residents the same level of support and service during this time.