|During the past several weeks, our nation and world have experienced an unprecedented threat in the form of coronavirus (COVID-19). Please know, I remain fully committed to combating coronavirus and am actively engaged with local, state, and federal health officials. As a Marine, ensuring our veterans remain safe and healthy is one of my top priorities.
While the situation is constantly evolving, I want to make sure you have current information on the resources available to you. As you may know, on March 19, 2020, Governor Abbott declared a Public Health Disaster for the State of Texas. As a result, all schools, restaurant dining rooms, bars, and gyms will be closed and remain closed through April 3, 2020. The Governor's actions also ban visits to nursing homes and assisted living centers, except for residents in critical care.
The Department of Veterans Affairs is currently working to address the outbreak by taking measures at all VA facilities to protect patients from the COVID-19 outbreak. Currently VA facilities remain open and continue to provide needed care to our nation’s veterans.
If you have any questions about the materials included below, or if you are in needed of assistance, please do not hesitate to contact me. You can reach my office by calling (972) 202-4150.
During this outbreak, I wanted to share recommendations on steps you can take to protect yourself from the virus. As you may know, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, older adults, 65 years and older, are at higher risk for severe illness as a result of coronavirus.
While reports indicate treatments to treat COVID-19, the illness caused by the virus, may be available soon, there is currently no vaccine for coronavirus and the best way to prevent illness is to avoid exposure altogether. It's important for communities and families to take the necessary steps, like washing your hands, social distancing, and staying home if you're sick, to avoid spreading the virus.
Below are prevention tips from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC):
What To Do If You Are Sick
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth
- Stay home when you are sick
- Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds
- If soap is not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol
According to the Department of Veterans Affairs, any veteran with symptoms such as fever, cough, or shortness of breath should immediately contact their local VA facility. Find nearby locations here. Veterans should call ahead before visiting. Calling first helps protect you, medical staff, and other patients.
Alternatively, veterans can sign into My HealtheVet to send a secure message to VA or use telehealth options to explain their condition and receive a prompt diagnosis.
Tax Deadline Extension
The Department of Treasury and IRS have moved Tax Day from April 15, 2020 to July 15, 2020. While individuals have an additional 90 days to file and make payments without interest or penalties, those who may receive tax refunds should file now to get your money. Details can be found on the IRS website.
Mortgages and Rent
According to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), those who are unable to pay rent or their mortgage on time due to the coronavirus outbreak should contact their lenders or landlords to let them know about the situation.There are a number of options that lenders or landlords may be willing to provide like waiving certain fees or delaying or adjusting certain payments. Detailed information on options can be found here.
At the direction of President Trump, the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has suspended all evictions and foreclosures on HUD-backed properties until the end of April.You may also contact a HUD approved housing counselor to get free, expert assistance on avoiding foreclosure and advice on which programs you qualify for given your specific situation.
The Federal Housing and Finance Agency also directed Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to suspend all foreclosures and evictions for at least 60 days for homeowners with mortgages backed by the government-sponsored enterprises. Those looking to determine whether their mortgage is backed by Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, or another entity, can visit this website to determine who owns your mortgage.
Again, the CFPB recommends those who are unable to pay their bills on time due to the coronavirus outbreak should contact their lenders to let them know about the situation.The CFPB and other financial regulators have encouraged financial institutions to work with their customers to meet their community needs.
Credit card companies and lenders may be able to offer you a number of options to help you. This could include waiving certain fees like ATM, overpayments, and late fees, as well as allowing you to delay, adjust, or skip some payments.
If you are a veteran in crisis or concerned about one, contact the Veteran Crisis Line now and connect with a qualified responders for confidential help. Many of them are veterans themselves.
With my support, Congress passed H.R. 6201, the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, which provided $250 million for the Senior Nutrition program in the Administration for Community Living (ACL). If you are in need of meal delivery, please contact Meals on Wheels Collin County online or call (972) 562-6996.