WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
How COVID-19 spreads: Person-to-person when coughing, sneezing or exhalation releases droplets from the nose or mouth of someone who is infected onto other people, objects or surfaces, according to the World Health Organization. When other people breathe in those droplets, or touch contaminated objects or surfaces and then touch their eyes, nose, or mouth, they can contract the virus.
Symptoms: Can appear within two to 14 days of exposure and can include fever, cough and shortness of breath. Colds and allergies are typically marked by itchy eyes, stuffy noses and sneezing, while the flu and coronavirus share symptoms of fever, fatigue, body aches, cough and worsening symptoms. COVID-19 can be differentiated from the flu if you have shortness of breath, a history of travel and known exposure to someone with the illness.
When to call your doctor: If you have mild symptoms and think you have COVID-19 contact your doctor. Do not go to your doctor’s office without calling first. Most people with mild symptoms can isolate and recover at home, according to the Texas Department of State Health Services.
If you test positive: Isolate at home until a medical provider clears you. Isolate by staying in one room away from others who are not sick. If possible, use a different bathroom. Surfaces in rooms used by anyone who is sick should be cleaned and disinfected daily, says the CDC.
Houstonians are showing courage and resilience — coming together to help those vulnerable and in need. These everyday heroes make Houston strong, and we want to celebrate them. Nominate the heroes on the frontline in your community: doctors, nurses, grocery store workers, business owners and volunteers. Send your nominees for Heroes of COVID-19 to firstname.lastname@example.org.
At-home treatment: There is no medicine to treat those with COVID-19. Follow your doctor’s advice. The CDC recommends getting plenty of rest and staying hydrated.
When it’s urgent: If you develop emergency warning signs — difficulty breathing or shortness of breath, persistent chest pain or chest pressure, new confusion or inability to arouse, and bluish lips or face — the CDC warns that you should get medical attention immediately. Call your doctor or emergency room before going in and tell them your symptoms.
How do I know when I’ve recovered?: Patients isolating at home must go fever-free for 72 hours without fever-reducing medication, according to the CDC. Other symptoms must have improved and seven days must have passed from the time those symptoms first appeared. If you have tested positive, two negative tests must be returned 24 hours apart.
Prevent the spread: Avoid contact with people who are sick and stay at home as much as you can to avoid contact with others. Clean and disinfect surfaces in your home with a solution of five tablespoons of bleach in a gallon of water or a disinfectant approved by the CDC. (Most Purell, Clorox and Lysol disinfectant products are on the list.) Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze, then throw used tissues in a lined trash can.
If you leave your home: Wear gloves and a mask covering your nose and mouth if you can. Touch as few surfaces as possible and do not touch your eyes, nose or mouth after touching any object or surface unless you have washed and disinfected your hands. (Wash hands with soap and warm running water for 20 seconds.) Observe social distancing by staying six feet away from others.
Self-isolation vs. self-quarantine: Self-isolation is for people who have COVID-19 or believe they do. If that’s the case, stay at home and call a doctor for testing. Self-quarantine is for people who have been exposed to the virus but aren’t sick; it lasts 14 days after contact with a person who has COVID-19.
INFORMATION AND TESTING
Who gets tested?: Coronavirus tests are primarily for first responders, medical workers and anyone who shows symptoms of dry cough, fever of at least 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit and one of the following: age 60 and older, has been to an outbreak center or has underlying health conditions. Most major insurance companies are covering the tests with no co-pay or out-of-pocket costs, according to the Texas Department of Insurance.
Houston/Harris County: Both provide symptom information and arrange for testing at Butler Stadium (13755 S. Main) or Delmar Stadium (2020 Mangum). An identification code will be given to symptomatic callers, who must bring an ID and insurance information if they have coverage, if not the test is free. City of Houston call 832-393-4220 (8 a.m.-7 p.m. daily) or go to www.houstonemergency.org/covid19; Harris County call 832-927-7575 (9 a.m.-7 p.m. daily).
Fort Bend County: 281-633-7795 (9 a.m.-6 p.m. Monday-Friday, 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturday). Information available in Spanish; callers may leave after hours messages.
Montgomery County: 936-523-5040 (8 a.m.-8 p.m. daily) for help with testing.
Brazoria County: 979-864-2167 (10 a.m.-6 p.m. Monday-Friday, 9 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturday); for a list of testing facilities go to brazoriacountytx.gov.
Galveston County: 409-938-7221, option 1 (8 a.m.-12:30 p.m. Monday-Friday). Offers symptom information and provide phone numbers so callers can arrange testing themselves.
Legacy Community Health: Testing charged on a sliding fee scale at Legacy Montrose, 1415 California, 832-548-5100; Legacy Mapleridge, 6550 Mapleridge, 713-779-7200; Legacy Sharpstown, 6677 Rookin, 713-666-6700.
My Family Doctor: Free testing with insurance; out of pocket cost is $150 (cash only). 6430 Hillcroft, 832-709-1515, www.covid19drivethru.com.
United Memorial Medical Center: Free testing, 501 Tidwell, 281-618-8500; www.ummc.care.
DOMESTIC VIOLENCE HOTLINES
Houston Area Women’s Center: Call 713-528-2121.
Katy Christian Ministries: Its Crisis Center helps victims of domestic abuse and sexual abuse. Call 281-391-HELP (4357) for domestic violence emergencies (281-391-4504 for non-emergencies); or 281-693-RAPE (7273) for sexual abuse emergencies (281-391-5262 for non-emergencies.)
Bay Area Turning Point: Victims of domestic or sexual violence should call 281-286-2525 for help or free counseling.
The Montrose Center: Call the LGBT Switchboard Houston at 713-529-3211 for 24-hour help.
Family Violence Center: Call 281-885-4673 or 888-750-4673.
United Way of Greater Houston: Dial 211 for its helpline, staffed round-the-clock. They help callers connect with groups offering assistance with basic needs such as food, rent assistance, utilities and health care.
Houston Food Bank: The food bank is distributing 750,000 pounds of food daily. It has pantries and partner sites all over the city. For information go to houstonfoodbank.org or call 832-369-9390.
Heights Interfaith Ministries Food Pantry: Open 5-7 p.m. Thursdays and 10 a.m.-noon Saturdays in a drive-through format with pre-bagged groceries. Bring a photo I.D. and mail (such as a utility bill) showing a current address. Call 713-861-6155; 3523 Beauchamp
Katy Christian Ministries food pantry: Provides food and personal care items, including a one-time emergency portion of food to non-clients. For ongoing assistance call 281-391-9623. Hours: 9 a.m.-noon and 1-4 p.m. Monday-Thursday. 5506 First St., Katy. (Park in front of the food pantry and a pantry worker will come out to you.) It is also accepting handmade masks for its volunteers and staff. Information: ktcm.org/foodpantry/
Montgomery County Food Bank: Visit mcfoodbank.org for a list of 50 food providers in Montgomery County, or call 936-271-8800.
West Houston Assistance Ministries: Drive-through distribution starting at 10:30 a.m. until supplies are gone Monday-Friday. People may receive food assistance once every two weeks. Visit whamministries.org/care-ministry to donate and for a list of services, or call 713-780-2727.
Clear Lake Food Pantry: Open 8-11 a.m. Mondays and Thursdays for people in 77058, 77059, 77062 and 77598 ZIP codes at Clear Lake Baptist Church, 15700 Space Center Blvd. Call 281-488-3736.
Society of St. Vincent de Paul: Offers food, rent and utilities assistance. Apply online at svdphouston.org/get-help or call the helpline 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Friday, 713-741-8234.
Target Hunger: Drive-through food distribution sites include 10-11:30 a.m. April 13 at the Denver Harbor Multi-Service Center, 6402 Market; 10-11:30 a.m. April 16 at the New Day Deliverance Holiness Church, 9001 Mesa; 10-11:30 a.m. April 22 at the Fifth Ward Multi-Service Center, 4802 Lockwood; and 10-11:30 a.m. April 28-29 at the Northeast Multi-Service Center, 9720 Spaulding.
Northwest Assistant Ministries: Offers help with rent, food, clothing and other basic needs, 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Thursday and 8 a.m.-4 p.m. Friday at 15555 Kuykendahl Road. Call 281-885-4555. (NAM has no more rental assistance for April.)
CrowdSource Rescue: The elderly in need can get food bank deliveries through this Houston-based nonprofit. To sign up for food deliveries go to crowdsourcerescue.com.
HOW TO HELP
Houston Food Bank: The food bank uses up to 200 volunteers each in shifts from 8 a.m.-noon, 1-4 p.m. and 6-9 p.m. for product sorting and box packing. Families and groups are welcome; children must be at least 6 years old. Bring your own face mask. Register in advance at www.houstonfoodbank.org/ways-to-give/give-time or call 713-547-8604. Make cash donations online at houstonfoodbank.org.
Katy Christian Ministries food pantry: Donations of nonperishable food, personal hygiene, cleaning products and paper goods can be taken to the pantry at 5506 First St., Katy. Cash donations can be made online at ktcm.org/foodpantry/ and volunteers are needed for weekly grocery store pickups and to work as a front desk attendant.
CrowdSource Rescue: This Houston-based nonprofit needs volunteers for no-contact food deliveries to elderly residents in need. To volunteer, go to crowdsourcerescue.com.
Heights Interfaith Ministries Food Pantry: It is accepting donations of hand sanitizer, antibacterial wipes and disinfectant spray in addition to canned goods, non-perishable foods, toiletries and diapers. Leave items in the “Feed Frank” bin outside the pantry.
Target Hunger: Make cash donations at targethunger.network.com.
Montgomery County Food Bank: Donate at mcfoodbank.org.
Katy Christian Ministries: Its Social Services program provides financial help with rent/mortgage, utilities, gas cards and prescriptions. For help call 281-391-9623 or go to 5504 First St., Katy, 9 a.m.-noon and 1-4 p.m. Monday-Thursday. Go to ktcm.org/social-services/ for information on what you need to bring with you.
West Houston Area Ministries: Offers financial aid for rent, mortgage and utilities for residents in 77042, 77057, 77063, 77077 and 77082 ZIP codes. Call 713-780-2727, ext. 200, 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Monday-Thursday. You must provide picture ID, proof of income, copy of lease or mortgage statement and proof of job loss or decrease in hours.
Unpaid wages: If you worked hours before the stay-home mandate and have not been paid, you can file a claim with the Texas Workforce Commission under the Texas Payday Law. File your claim online at twc.texas.gov, where you’ll find tutorials and information to help you through the process. You must submit your claim within 180 days of your missed pay date.
Unemployment compensation: The Texas Workforce Commission website has been swamped with unemployment claims since the coronavirus pandemic and stay-home mandates started in March. Apply online at twc.texas.gov, where you’ll find information and tutorials (late-night, early-morning hours are best). Call 800-939-6631 8 a.m.-5 p.m. for information.
Small business loans: The federal CARES Act provides $376 billion in relief. Options include paycheck protection, debt relief, express bridge loans of up to $25,000 and economic injury emergency loans of up to $10,000. Go to sba.gov for information.
West Houston Area Ministries: Helps people apply for unemployment benefits, write resumes and search for jobs. Call 713-780-27200 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Monday-Friday or go to whamministries.org.
Workforce Solutions: Check this statewide site for a list of active job openings at wrksolutions.com. For information call 888-469-5627.
FREE LEGAL ADVICE
Houston Bar Association: The HBA’s LegalLine will answer legal questions — general or COVID-19 related — 5-8 p.m. Wednesdays through May 27. Go to hba.org/legalline to sign up for a time slot or call 713-759-1133. Calls are limited to 20 minutes. For immigration questions, call 833-468-4664 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Friday.
Harris County Mental Health: This county agency offers services: dial 211 for mental health care services, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255 or call the Treatment Referral Helpline at 877-726-4727.
The Harris Center for Mental Health and IDD: The center is operating the 24/7 COVID-19 mental health support line launched by Texas Health and Human Services. For stress and anxiety related to COVID-19, call 833-986-1919.
Yes to Youth: The nonprofit is offering counseling services online. For an appointment, call 936-756-8682. For immediate help, call its 24-hour hotline at 888-756-8682.
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