Update on Coronavirus
May 5, 2020

I hope this email finds you healthy and safe at home. I wanted to inform you that COVID-19 testing being done at Barnett Stadium will be moving to Houston Community College's Southeast College at 6815 Rustic Street. Testing will continue at Barnett Stadium until Wednesday, May 6 at 4 p.m. at which time operations at Barnett will cease. Testing will resume Thursday, May 7 at 9 a.m. at the new location at HCC Southeast. 

Located off the Gulf Freeway, the new drive-thru testing location at the HCC Southeast campus will be easier to locate and provide greater access for residents who wish to be tested for COVID-19. Again, testing will begin on Thursday, May 7 at 9 a.m. and will continue daily, Monday through Friday, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Operations will be reviewed at the end of next week and extended as needed.

As before, testing at the new location at HCC Southeast is FREE and open to all residents – whether or not they are experiencing symptoms from COVID-19 – on a first-come, first-served basis. Testing will be conducted by United Memorial Medical Center (UMMC) in partnership with the City of Houston and the Houston Health Department. Due to limited supplies, only 250 tests will be performed per day. There is no need to call ahead or to pre-register. No walk-ups are allowed.

In addition to testing at HCC Southeast, a free mobile test site opened at Daniel Ortiz Middle School, 6767 Telephone Road, today (May 5) and will continue through May 9. This site is only testing individuals with symptoms and DOES require appointments , which can be obtained by visiting TXCOVIDTEST.ORG or calling 512-883-2400. This site is open from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. or until each reaches its daily capacity of approximately 150 tests.

I encourage residents who have symptoms or may have been exposed to a person with COVID-19 to get tested. As I've said before, the data generated through testing not only helps sick individuals self-isolate and seek the appropriate medical care, but it assists health and government officials better understand the scope of the problem and direct needed resources to where cases are rising. Please take advantage of these free testing opportunities!

Finally, City Council tomorrow will consider establishing a Rental Assistance Program to assist Houston’s low-to-moderate income renters in the wake of the COVID-19 economic fallout. Funding is coming from the CARES Act, which was approved by Congress and signed into law by the President in March. The program, as currently proposed, could assist approximately 6,800 households, and would assist eligible individuals with their April and May rent. While this is a good start, more will be needed. I will provide additional information on the Rental Assistance Program after council action.

Robert Gallegos
Houston Council Member
District I
COVID Cases, and FREE Testing Information
As of Monday, May 4, the City of Houston reported 3,992 COVID-19 cases and 34 deaths. That's an increase of over 900 new cases since my report to you last week. Statewide, there are 32,715 confirmed cases, and over 1.1 million cases across the country. 

The Houston Health Department continues targeting free COVID-19 testing to vulnerable communities. This week, the health department and partner organizations expand and relocate some of Houston's testing sites.

Texas Division of Emergency Management 
The Texas Division of Emergency Management and the department are bringing free drive-thru COVID-19 testing to the Hobby Airport area and extending operations at their Sunnyside site.

A free mobile test site is opened at Daniel Ortiz Middle School, 6767 Telephone Road , today (May 5) through May 9. The Sunnyside mobile test site at Worthing High School, 9215 Scott St., will extend testing through May 9.

Both sites require appointments, which can be obtained by visiting TXCOVIDTEST.ORG or calling 512-883-2400. The sites are open 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. or until each reaches its daily capacity of approximately 150 tests.

Health care workers will screen people for fever, chills, cough, fatigue, body aches, muscle or joint pain, shortness of breath, sore throat, headaches, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, nasal congestion and loss of taste or smell.

Houston Health Department Mobile Unit
The department will relocate its mobile unit to the Hiram Clark Multi-Service Center, 3810 W. Fuqua, from May 5 through May 9. The mobile will relocate May 12-16 to the Third Ward Multi-Service Center.

People do not need to have symptoms or appointments to get a free COVID-19 test through the department’s mobile unit, available as a drive-thru or walk-up option. Mobile unit testing is set for Tuesdays-Fridays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., or until reaching daily capacity of 150 tests.

People with questions about mobile testing can call the health department’s COVID-19 call center at 832-393-4220.

United Memorial Medical Center
United Memorial Medical Center (UMMC) will open a new free COVID-19 drive-thru testing site at HCC Southeast Campus, 6815 Rustic. The site will offer tests weekdays beginning May 7.

The site does not require people to have symptoms or appointments and opens from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., or until reaching daily capacity of approximately 250 tests.

UMMC will operate a drive-thru testing site at Barnett Sports Complex until Wednesday, May 6 at 4 p.m. at which time operations at Barnett will cease. Testing will resume Thursday, May 7 at 9 a.m. at the new location at HCC Southeast. UMMC works with the Houston Health Department to identify strategic locations for its test sites.People with questions about UMMC testing sites can call 1-866-333-covid or visit ummcscreening.com.

Houston Health Department Community Based Testing Sites
The department continues operating two free drive-thru COVID-19 community-based testing sites at Delmar and Butler stadiums. The sites open daily to anyone, regardless of symptoms. People must call 832-393-4220 to receive an access code and directions to the nearest site. Each site has capacity for 500 tests per day and remains open until capacity is reached.
Community Guidance as Texas Begins to Reopen
The Governor’s Report to Open Texas provides a full explanation of the State plan to reopen businesses and services. This includes who can open, when, and what restrictions may still be in place. It also provides safety and hygiene recommendations and checklists for residents, employers, and employees designed to help contain COVID-19. Below is a partial list of the key points. Residents should consult the full order for additional details. Business owners unsure of their status should call 2-1-1.

Per Texas Governor Greg Abbott’s order, as of Friday, May 1:
  • Essential businesses may continue operations as usual
  • Restaurants, retail stores, and movie theaters can reopen if they choose. Occupancy is limited to 25% of their capacity.
  • All museums and libraries may open at 25% capacity but interactive areas – where multiple people touch things - must remain closed
  • Sole proprietors and practitioners may return to work
  • Places of worship can be open with appropriate distancing practices
  • Outdoor sporting activities with less than 4 participants playing at any one time
  • Licensed healthcare professionals may return to work but hospitals must continue to reserve 15% of their capacity for COVID-19 patients
  • Barbershops, hair and nail salons, are set to reopen on Friday, and gyms on May 18, provided they operate under 25% capacity
Stay Safe
While Governor Abbott has eliminated many of the health precautions municipalities had adopted to limit the spread of COVID-19, I urge all Houstonians to continue to exercise common sense: avoid unnecessary outings, cover you're mouth and nose when in public, and maintain social distancing of at least six feet. Additionally:

  • Wash hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Use hand sanitizer when you can't wash your hands.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • Cover your coughs and sneezes with a tissue and throw the tissue away. If you don't have a tissue, use the elbow of your sleeve. Don't use your hands to cover coughs and sneezes.
  • Avoid gatherings of 10 or more people.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
  • Maintain social distancing of at least six feet.

We must all be responsible for our health and that of our families, and we must all do our part to help protect the overall well-being of our community by practicing physical distancing and limiting our social interactions. New cases continue to pop up every day, now is not the time to let our guard down.
Food Distribution
HISD continues its food distribution program at various campuses throughout the district. Each site can distribute up to 500 bags — or 15,000 pounds of food — per day.

As families arrive at sites, nutrition staff will minimize contact by filling out the required Emergency Food Assistance Program forms for families and placing food in their trunks. Participants who walk to the sites also must adhere to social distancing requirements. Specific dates and times for the weekday distributions are listed below:

Wednesday, May 6
  • Clifton Middle School, 6001 Golden Forest Dr., 9 a.m.
  • Northside High School, 1101 Quitman St., 9 a.m.
  • Bonham Elementary School, 8302 Braes River Dr., 11 a.m.
  • Bastian Elementary School, 5051 Bellfort Ave., 3 p.m.
  • Henry Middle School, 10702 East Hardy Road, 3 p.m.

Thursday, May 7
  • Furr High School, 520 Mercury Dr., 9 a.m.
  • North Forest High School, 10726 Mesa Dr., 9 a.m.
  • Milby High School, 1601 Broadway St., 11 a.m.
  • Tinsley Elementary School, 11035 Bob White Dr., 3 p.m.
  • Fleming Middle School, 4910 Collingsworth St., 3 p.m.

Friday, May 8
  • Waltrip High School, 1900 W. 34th St., 9 a.m.
  • Navarro Middle School, 5100 Polk St., 9 a.m.
  • Chavez High School, 8501 Howard Dr., 11 a.m.
  • Key Middle School, 4000 Kelley St., 3 p.m.
  • Benavidez Elementary School, 6262 Gulfton St., 3 p.m.

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.

AAMA (Association for the Advancement of Mexican Americans) hosts weekly food distributions at their George I. Sanchez Charter School located 6001 Gulf Freeway. Food is distributed Tuesdays and Thursdays from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. as a drive-thru service.

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-thru 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-thru 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.
Complete the 2020 Census TODAY!
The Census is happening NOW! Unfortunately, District I has been reporting low response rates - only about 42% of our friends and neighbors have responded to the Census. While that's a little higher than last week, we need all District I residents to complete their 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 !
Two Special Flyovers Across Houston Wednesday & Friday
The Navy Blue Angels and Air Force Thunderbirds, the US military's flight demonstration squadrons, will fly over Houston's skies in appreciation and support for health care workers, first responders, and other essential personnel on the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Blue Angels and Thunderbirds will fly over Houston on Wednesday, May 6 and will be visible from several communities across the Houston area. According to the flight path map, the Blue Angels and Thunderbirds are scheduled to soar over the Houston area beginning at 12:30 p.m. in the Woodlands. They are expected to fly over the east and southeast side between 12:55 and 1 p.m. Wednesday.

“Residents should observe the flyover from the safety of their home-quarantine and should refrain from traveling to see the flyover,” the Blue Angels said in their announcement. “Social distancing should be practiced at all times.”

Residents can view another flyover at midday Friday, May 8. The Lone Star Flight Museum is conducting the “Fight to the Finish Flyover” across the Houston region between 11:45 a.m. and 1:10 p.m. Friday.

The Lone Star Flight Museum said its flyover, which commemorates the 75th anniversary of VE Day and the end of World War II in Europe, will include nearly 30 “rare and historic warbirds.” Shortly after noon Friday, according to the flight path posted by the museum, the planes will fly from east to west and should be be visible in the East End between 12 and 12:15 p.m.