TGWA COVID-19 Resources
TGWA Members:

Like all of you, we have been closely monitoring news from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the World Health Organization, the Governor, and city officials, and thinking about the impacts to our members. Below are a handful of coronavirus-related updates that impact your businesses.
Essential Services: As response to the coronavirus evolves almost daily, we’ve gotten a few questions about whether water well services can continue to operate despite various orders and ordinances shuttering gatherings and businesses. Thus far, Governor Abbott has declined to issue a statewide shelter-in-place order. However, major cities have begun to issue localized restrictions that allow only certain businesses to operate, such as healthcare operations, critical infrastructure, and essential services. 

So can the water well industry continue to operate? Yes.  We are confident that water well services, including drillers, pump installers, and supporting businesses such as manufacturers and suppliers will continue to be allowed to operate as essential services that support critical infrastructure. 

Action on your behalf.   At TGWA, we’ve been working to ensure that if the Governor issues a statewide shelter-in-place order he knows how import the water well drilling industry is to ensuring safe water for Texans. We’ve been in contact with statewide leadership and submitted formal comments supporting inclusion of the industry in the list of “essential services,” should it be further defined at the statewide level. The text of our comments is available here . Additionally, NGWA is providing a sample letter template that can help identify your employees as “essential workers” during any COVID-19 “shelter-in-place” orders. The letter is available here .
Best Practices in the Workplace: TWGA believes your safety is top priority during this coronavirus pandemic. Beyond complying with recommendations of the CDC and state and local government officials, here’s a handy list of precautions to take ahead of home service calls, compiled by NGWA .
  • Only do the calls that need to be done
  • See if delivery of bottled water will satisfy the current water need
  • Sanitize hands on the way in and on the way out (like in a hospital)
  • Limit interaction with the homeowner as much as possible
  • Wear nitrile latex gloves and dispose after the call
  • Don’t touch anything that you don’t need to
  • Wear a face mask, at a minimum, when in the home doing any work
  • Don’t touch your face
  • Maintain physical distance from others, six feet if possible
  • Carry disinfectant wipes in your truck and wipe down every time you re-enter the vehicle.
  • Be aggressive and very careful in protecting yourself
Coronavirus Legislation: Last week, Congress passed and the president signed a bill to provide coronavirus-related relief. The bill, HR 6201 , guarantees free diagnostic testing for coronavirus, bolsters health and nutrition programs and unemployment insurance, and provides various employee protections for leave associated with the coronavirus. Key leave provisions are summarized below.

Paid Sick Leave: Small businesses and tax-exempt nonprofits . The bill provides up to 10 days of paid sick leave for workers at companies with 500 or fewer employees. This leave is in addition to existing paid sick leave and applies only when an employee is unable to work (or telework) due to a need for leave related to the virus. Employers are prohibited from requiring an employee to exhaust existing paid sick leave first before using this new emergency leave for coronavirus. 
  • The bill allows companies with fewer than 50 employees to apply for a waiver on the basis it “would jeopardize the viability of the business as a going concern.”

Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA): Private-sector employers with 500 or fewer workers and government entities are required to provide 12 weeks of job-protected leave for employees who are exposed to or have symptoms of the virus, are caring for a family member with the virus, or caring for a child whose school is closed because of the virus. Coronavirus FMLA leave is not in addition to traditional FMLA leave, but includes provisions requiring employee compensation.

Employer Tax Credits: The bill provides a refundable tax credit to employers who cover wages that are paid to employees while they are taking time off under the bill’s sick leave and family leave programs. The credits would be against an employers’ payroll and retirement tax payments.
Additional resources with deeper analyses of employer impacts:
Small Business Assistance: The total economic impacts of coronavirus can only be speculated at this point, but small businesses are already feeling financial strains. Here are a few ways the federal government is assisting small businesses.
  • The Small Business Administration has resources to help small businesses, including loan programs and advice on handling the impacts of coronavirus to supply chains, insurance, marketing, and planning. Specifically, the Administration offers an Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program to help keep small businesses afloat.
  • The federal tax filing and payment deadline has been extended from April 15 to July 15, 2020 for both individuals and businesses.
  • The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) is encouraging banks to work with small businesses, such as through deferment or forbearance of business loans.
  • The U.S. Congress is debating a possible economic stimulus package that could provide additional aid.
We are currently working on additional ways we can best serve our members in these unprecedented times. Our staff will be working remotely until the risk is lifted and the office phones are being forwarded to our mobile phone. We all have the ability to work from home and have a schedule for solo check ins at the office periodically to collect mail or issue checks. Please let us know if you have any trouble reaching any of us - we are available by email and phone to assist you however we can. Let us know how we can help!

Sarah Kirkle
Director of Policy and Legislative Affairs
Texas Ground Water Association