The Coronavirus (COVID-19) is a very fluid situation, and it will continue to be. As new information becomes available from the State of Texas and federal government agencies, we will publish those updates.
As more and more communities around the United States experience, a rising number of Coronavirus cases, state and federal officials are looking at ways to further prevent community spread, ensure public safety and combat the rising economic impact.
In Texas, Governor Greg Abbott issued an “Essential Services and Activities protocols,” which establishes restrictions similar to stay-at-home orders issued by a number of local governments in the state.
The “Essential Services and Activities” order extends the state’s coronavirus measures until April 30 and extends school closures until May 4.
The guidelines for residents to minimize social gatherings and minimize contact with people outside of the household as well as the directive to avoid eating out at restaurants, drinking at bars or visiting other businesses or facilities not related to essential services.
Governor Abbott, HHS Announce Federal Approval Of Emergency SNAP Benefits
Over $168 million in emergency benefits for all SNAP recipients in Texas
AUSTIN – Governor Greg Abbott today announced that Texas Health and Human Services (HHS) will provide more than $168 million in emergency Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) food benefits to help Texans during the COVID-19 response.
HHS received federal approval from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to provide the maximum, allowable amount of SNAP benefits to recipients based on family size. The emergency allotments are currently authorized for the months of April and May and will affect all SNAP recipients in the state of Texas.
“As the state continues to respond to COVID-19, we are working closely with our agency partners to ensure families have access to nutritious meals,” said Governor Abbott. “I thank the U.S. Department of Agriculture for quickly granting this approval. These emergency benefits will give hundreds of thousands of Texans the additional support they need to provide for their families during this challenging time.”
“The additional SNAP food benefits will give families who are facing economic uncertainty security in knowing that they will continue to have access to food,” said HHS Access and Eligibility Deputy Executive Commissioner Wayne Salter. “SNAP has always been a safety net for households in their time of need. A pandemic will not stop our work to continue helping families purchase nutritious foods.”
SNAP recipients will see the additional amount on their Lone Star Card by April 15 for this month’s benefits, and by May 15 for next month’s benefits.
Disbursements will be staggered and will begin on April 9. SNAP recipients do not need to take any further action to receive the additional benefits. More information about SNAP benefits is available here.
Governor Abbott Announces Emergency Waiver Of Federal Match Requirement For Victims Services Grant Recipients
AUSTIN – Governor Greg Abbott announced on Wednesday, that his Public Safety Office (PSO) will provide a one-time emergency waiver of the federally required cash or in-kind match contribution required for the Victims of Crime Act (VOCA) and STOP Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) grant funds.
This waiver follows an unprecedented match waiver process recently initiated for states by the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office for Victims of Crime and Office on Violence Against Women.
This waiver will provide financial relief to 600 grant recipient organizations in Texas who are federally required to contribute up to 25% of their own funds or donated services towards a project in order to remain eligible for continued grant funding.
The waiver will remove financial burdens posed by COVID-19 by allowing grant recipients to use the cash match they had budgeted towards their grant project for other pressing needs and alleviating concerns about maintaining volunteer services while complying with stay at home orders and proper social distancing practices.
Grant recipients use these funds to provide direct services to victims of crime to speed their recovery and use multi-disciplinary approaches to improve the justice system’s response to violent crimes.
Agencies benefiting from this waiver include domestic violence shelters; rape crisis centers; children’s advocacy centers; court-appointed special advocate programs; child sex trafficking shelters, drop-in centers, and advocacy programs; legal aid providers; and local units of governments employing crime victim liaisons and advocates.
“Our VOCA and VAWA grant recipients provide critical services to victims of crime in Texas, and we are committed to removing potential financial burdens caused by COVID-19 that might otherwise hinder their important work,” said Governor Abbott. “I thank the Department of Justice for initiating this waiver process at the federal level to provide much-needed support to these victim services organizations. With this waiver, these recipients can continue to serve their fellow Texans without delay.”
“The Texas Council on Family Violence applauds the leadership of Governor Abbott in removing a key barrier for agencies serving domestic violence victims in these extraordinary times. COVID 19 has disrupted every sector of our society further exacerbating the complex dynamics and escalation of family violence. Domestic violence agencies can now move forward with confidence that their live-saving services do not hinge on this administrative requirement. Hurricane Harvey research confirmed the increase in frequency and severity of domestic violence; we recognize a much larger impact from COVID 19 will occur. This support from the Governor is indeed saving lives,” said Gloria Aguilera Terry, Chief Executive Officer of the Texas Council on Family Violence.
“For many children, home is not a safe place, making the safety net provided by Texas children’s advocacy centers (CACs) and our partner agencies more critical than ever before. This swift action will help sustain Texas CACs and demonstrates a firm commitment to the promise of safety, justice, and healing for the nearly 60,000 child victims of crime we serve annually,” said Joy Rauls, CEO of Children’s Advocacy Centers of Texas.
“Texas CASA celebrates Governor Abbot’s decision to support programs that serve children in foster care in this time of unprecedented public health crisis. By removing the 20% match requirement for Victims of Crime Act funds, the Governor’s office helps ensure that CASA organizations providing critical care to the state’s most vulnerable children can function without barriers and will stay strong in a time of uncertainty. This action allows CASA programs throughout Texas to focus more thoroughly on their missions and serving their communities. We know that the current isolation and stressors for families during COVID-19 can cause an increase in incidences of child abuse and neglect, and we are grateful for this support from the Governor for programs that work to strengthen families and protect children,” said Vicki Spriggs, CEO of Texas CASA.
“TAASA applauds the swift action by Public Safety Office at the Governor’s office in implementing match waivers for grantees. This exemplifies the historic coordination of local, state, and federal agencies acting in the best interest of crime victims in Texas,” said Rose Luna, CEO of the Texas Association Against Sexual Assault.
Governor Abbott Temporarily Suspends Certain Statutes To Allow For Appearance Before Notary Public Via Videoconference
AUSTIN – Yesterday, Governor Greg Abbott suspended certain statutes concerning appearance before a notary public to execute a self-proved will, a durable power of attorney, a medical power of attorney, a directive to a physician, or an oath of an executor, administrator, or guardian.
These suspensions temporarily allow for appearance before a notary public via videoconference when executing such documents, avoiding the need for in-person contact during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The State of Texas is taking any action necessary to enforce social distancing and reduce the need for in-person contact throughout the COVID-19 response,” said Governor Abbott. “These temporary suspensions provide flexibility in the notarization process for certain documents and ensure Texans are able to stay home as much as possible to protect themselves and others from this virus.”
The following conditions will apply whenever this suspension is invoked:
A notary public shall verify the identity of a person signing a document at the time the signature is taken by using two-way video and audio conference technology.
A notary public may verify identity by personal knowledge of the signing person, or by analysis based on the signing person’s remote presentation of a government-issued identification credential, including a passport or driver’s license, that contains the signature and a photograph of the person.
The signing person shall transmit by fax or electronic means a legible copy of the signed document to the notary public, who may notarize the transmitted copy and then transmit the notarized copy back to the signing person by fax or electronic means, at which point the notarization is valid.
This suspension will remain in effect until terminated by the Office of the Governor or until the March 13, 2020 disaster declaration is lifted or expires.
Documents executed while this suspension is in effect, and in accordance with its terms, will remain valid after the termination of this suspension.
Governor Abbott Announces Texas Military Department, Prestige Ameritech Partnership To Increase Mask Production
24-Hour Operation Will Produce 2 Million Masks Per Week For Health Care Workers
AUSTIN – Governor Greg Abbott held a press conference yesterday where he provided an update on the production and distribution of personal protective equipment (PPE) in Texas.
The Governor announced a new partnership between the Texas Military Department (TMD) and Prestige Ameritech to increase the production of face masks for health care workers.
Prestige Ameritech’s 24-hour operation at their headquarters near Fort Worth will be staffed in part by members of the Texas National Guard 36th Infantry Division and will produce 2 million masks per week.
The Governor thanked private companies across the state that are manufacturing PPE for Texans serving on the frontlines of the COVID-19 response.
The Governor was joined for the press conference by Texas Department of State Health Services Commissioner John Hellerstedt, MD, Texas Division of Emergency Management Chief Nim Kidd, and Executive Vice Chancellor for Health Affairs of the University of Texas System John Zerwas, MD.
“The State of Texas is continuing to work closely with our public and private partners to ramp up the production and distribution of PPE in Texas,” said Governor Abbott. “This new partnership between TMD and Prestige Ameritech is an important component of our commitment to ensuring our health care workers have the supplies they need to do their important work. I thank these partners for providing this much-needed resource to our health care workers serving our fellow Texans. The Lone Star State remains unwavering in our support for our frontline health care workers as we continue to respond to COVID-19.”
Prestige Ameritech is a designer and manufacturer of disposable medical devices and the automated machinery that produces them. The company is the United States’ largest domestic surgical mask manufacturer. Prestige Ameritech’s headquarters and 220,000 square foot manufacturing facility are located near Fort Worth.
The announcement included a video featuring Dan Reese, Prestige Ameritech CEO and Founder, detailing the partnership between his company and the Texas Military Department