As a nation, as a state and as a local community, we face a challenging chapter in our lives as we and the world navigate the COVID-19 (coronavirus) epidemic. As I write this article, I pray that each of you and your loved ones remains safe and healthy. Please know that my staff and I have been closely monitoring the statewide situation every single day to help ensure that we are collectively doing everything we can to protect Texans – a responsibility I take very seriously. We also continue to work around-the-clock to dialogue with our local officials and health care systems to ensure that state agencies are available and responsive to questions and needs. Many of my friends and neighbors are isolated in their homes, worried about their jobs, entertaining their kids, and wondering how to pay next month’s bills. Others are on the front lines – health care workers, law enforcement, truck drivers, construction workers, grocers, and so many more – doing everything they can to keep essential activities going during this health disaster. Like you, I trust that with the strength of prayer, family and friends, and perseverance, we will get through this dark time together.
Since first being notified about the possible pandemic, Governor Greg Abbott, state agencies, and state emergency management officials have acted swiftly to prepare the state and mitigate the negative effects of this pandemic. Both federal and statewide disaster declarations have been issued in conjunction with numerous county and city specific disaster declarations, as determined by local leaders. Governor Abbott has also worked with state agencies to waive many state regulations to allow for flexibility, speed and creative disaster responses in nearly all major Texas industries, including healthcare, taxation, food and beverage, and many more.
The federal government recently passed the $2 trillion dollar Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act to assist businesses, employees, hospitals and citizens experiencing extreme economic distress. This stimulus package specifically includes small business administration loans and grants, paid sick leave during the pandemic, a paycheck protection program, recovery rebates, extensions for a number of tax filing deadlines for businesses and individuals, and reimbursement for expenses incurred by health authorities and local and state governments. For additional details, I recommend that you visit the following websites to learn more: uschamber.com/coronavirus, sba.gov, and irs.gov/coronavirus.
During this time, please take responsibility to care for yourself and your family. As many of you know, with a lack of immediate access to healthcare, many rural areas of Texas are particularly at risk. Because of that, it is more important than ever that we follow all applicable federal, state and local public health recommendations to mitigate the negative affects of COVID-19. To avoid exposure, the CDC recommends adopting similar precautions as you have used in the past to avoid the flu. These fundamental steps include:
• Frequently washing your hands with soap for a duration of at least 20 seconds;
• Cover your mouth with a tissue or inner elbow when coughing or sneezing;
• Avoid close contact with people who are sick;
• Socially distance yourself from family members and friends who are compromised;
• If you experience flu-like symptoms, please stay home!
As I talk with state leaders, local officials, area businesses and residents, I am reminded of the strength of rural Texas. For generations in early Texas, our region was considered the Frontier, full of innumerable challenges and deadly experiences. Its harsh elements (both heat and cold), relative remoteness (days-long wagon rides), and unforgiving environment (floods and drought) honed a tough and unwavering sense of focus and determination that early pioneers needed simply to survive, grow their food and raise their families. With the help of their neighbors and friends, these early families overcame enormous odds to thrive and flourish. During this health crisis, I know that we now look to and draw upon that same pioneer spirit as we coalescence together, with our families, friends and neighbors, to meet this challenge with unwavering resolve.
My office will continue to be here for all constituents, businesses and local officials throughout this time of uncertainty. If you have questions at all or you need assistance with a state agency, please do not hesitate to contact me and my staff. We can be reached in Austin at (512) 463-0536, in our local Kerrville office at (830) 257-0432, or through email anytime at email@example.com.
God Bless Your Pioneer Spirit,
House District 53 includes Bandera, Crockett, Edwards, Kimble, Kerr, Llano, Mason, Medina, Menard, Real, Schleicher and Sutton counties and covers approximately 15,000 square miles of rural Texas.