Update on Coronavirus
May 16, 2020

I hope this email finds you healthy and safe at home. I wanted to inform you that FREE COVID-19 testing continues to be available at HCC Southeast, 6815 Rustic, and will be extended through Friday, May 22.

Testing is being conducted by United Memorial Medical Center (UMMC) in partnership with the City of Houston and the Houston Health Department. It is free and available on a first come, first served basis weekdays from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. You don't need to have symptoms and you do not need to make an appointment.

In addition to testing at HCC Southeast, several other free testing opportunities will be available for a limited time next week at Hilliard Elementary, Elmore Elementary, Yolanda Black Navarro Middle School, and J R Harris Elementary. These sites will be operated by the Texas Department of Emergency Management in partnership with the City and the Health Department. Dates and times for each location are included below.

I encourage residents to take advantage of these free testing opportunities. 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.

Finally, last week I informed you of the Rental Assistance Program the City established to assist Houston’s low-to-moderate income renters in the wake of the COVID-19 economic fallout. $15 million from the CARES Act were put toward assisting approximately 6,800 households pay their April and May rent. More than 30,000 individuals logged on to the application website when it opened, and within about an hour, the $15 million had been entirely pledged, and applications were closed.

As I anticipated, the funding was clearly nowhere near enough. The City has asked for additional funding from the Federal Government that could be applied toward rental assistance as well as mortgage assistance. We need the assistance and continued support from our state and federal partners for a strong recovery.

Robert Gallegos
Houston Council Member
District I
FREE Test Sites
As of Friday, May 15, the City of Houston reported 5,340 COVID-19 cases and 114 deaths. Statewide, there are 45,466 confirmed cases, and over 1.4 million cases across the country. 

The Houston Health Department continues targeting free COVID-19 testing to vulnerable communities. Next week, the health department and partner organizations will be offering free testing at various locations:

Hilliard Elementary School 
8115 East Houston St., 77028 
May 18 - 20, 2020 • 9 a.m. – 6 p.m. 
Appt. required through txcovidtest.org or 512-883-2400 

B.C. Elmore Elementary School 
8200 Tate St., 77028 
May 21 - 23, 2020 • 9 a.m. – 6 p.m. 
Appt. required through txcovidtest.org or 512-883-2400. 

Yolanda Black Navarro Middle School 
5100 Polk St., 77023 
May 18 - 20, 2020 • 9 a.m. – 6 p.m. 
Appt required through txcovidtest.org or 512-883-2400.

J R Harris Elementary School 
801 Broadway St., 77012 
May 21 - 23, 2020 • 9 a.m. – 6 p.m. 
Appt required through txcovidtest.org or 512-883-2400. 

HCC Southeast Campus 
6815 Rustic, St., 77087 
May 18 – 22, 2020 • 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. 
No appointment or symptoms needed. 

Griggs EC/PK/K School
801 Regional Park Dr., 77060
May 18 – 22, 2020  • 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.
No appt. or symptoms needed.

Acres Home Multi-Service Center
6719 W. Montgomery Dr., 77091
May 19 - 23, 2020 • 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Appt. required by visiting krogerhealth.com/covidtesting

United Memorial Medical Center
510 W Tidwell Rd., 77091
May 18 – 22, 2020 • 9 a.m. – 4 p.m.
No appt. or symptoms needed.

Forest Brook Middle School
7525 Tidwell Rd., 77061
May 18 – 22, 2020 • 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.
No appt. or symptoms needed.

Fonwood Early Childhood Center
9709 Mesa Dr, 77078
May 18 – 22, 2020 • 9 a.m. – 4 p.m.
No appt. or symptoms needed.

Cullen Middle School
6900 Scott St., 77021
May 18 – 22, 2020 • 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.
No appt. or symptoms needed.

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 first 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.
Food Distribution
HISD continues its food distribution program at various campuses throughout the district. 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:

Monday, May 18
  • Shadydale Elementary School, 5905 Tidwell Road, 9 a.m.
  • Jones Futures Academy, 7414 St. Lo Road, 9 a.m.
  • Revere Middle School, 10502 Briar Forest Dr., 11 a.m.
  • Highland Heights Elementary School, 865 Paul Quinn St., 3 p.m.
  • Fleming Middle School, 4910 Collingsworth St., 3 p.m.

Tuesday, May 19
  • Clifton Middle School, 6001 Golden Forest Dr., 9 a.m.
  • Cook Elementary School, 7115 Lockwood Dr., 9 a.m.
  • Tijerina Elementary School, 6501 Sherman St., 11 a.m.
  • Fondren Middle School, 6333 S. Braeswood Blvd., 3 p.m.
  • Sterling Aviation High School, 11625 Martindale Road, 3 p.m.

Wednesday, May 20
  • Milby High School, 1601 Broadway St., 9 a.m.
  • Jane Long Academy, 6501 Bellaire Blvd., 9 a.m.
  • Mitchell Elementary School, 10900 Gulfdale Dr., 11 a.m.
  • Northside High School, 1101 Quitman St., 3 p.m.
  • Henry Middle School, 10702 East Hardy Road, 3 p.m.

Thursday, May 21
  • Waltrip High School, 1900 W. 34th St., 9 a.m.
  • Holland Middle School, 1600 Gellhorn Dr., 9 a.m.
  • Madison High School, 13719 White Heather Dr., 11 a.m.
  • Benavidez Elementary School, 6262 Gulfton St., 3 p.m.
  • North Forest High School, 10726 Mesa Dr., 3 p.m.

Friday, May 22
  • Chavez High School, 8501 Howard Dr., 9 a.m.
  • Sam Houston Math, Science, and Technology Center, 9400 Irvington, 9 a.m.
  • Key Middle School, 4000 Kelley St., 11 a.m.
  • Bastian Elementary School, 5051 Bellfort Ave., 3 p.m.
  • Sharpstown High School, 7504 Bissonnet 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 48 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.
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 safety measures 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.
Complete the 2020 Census TODAY!
The Census is happening NOW! District I continues to lag behind the rest of the city in responding to the 2020 Census - only about 42% of our neighbors have responded so far. 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 !