For those of you following along on Facebook, I’ve been attempting to combat the fear over Coronavirus (or COVID-19) with information in a series called “Knowledge is Power”. After several posts, it occurred to me that what was really needed was an easy to read, easy to share listing of various resources. So here we go.
Before we dive in, I should give the disclaimer that this website is technically a campaign website. I’m elected, but I’m speaking on behalf of myself and not the City of Leander or the City Council. Anything I say or share is not a reflection of or endorsement by the city. The buck stops here.
I hope this helps everyone.
I AM A …
Small Business Owner
If you have a restaurant, Williamson County has ordered the dining room closed. You can still do take out and delivery orders. If you have a beer & wine retail permit or mixed beverages permit, the county has also ordered your bar areas to be closed to the public and you are not permitted to allow alcohol consumption on your premises, however you may sell drinks to-go. Here’s the order.
While there are not to be gatherings of 10 or more people, there are several exceptions carved out for businesses and non-profits. If you are remaining open, please remember that the goal is to keep people from congregating together. Do what you can. Every little bit helps. Again, here’s the order.
Know that there is financial help on the way. Keep an eye out for federal and state emergency assistance orders, they will come. The Small Business Administration (SBA) has disaster loans up to $2 million with 3.75% interest (2.75% for non-profits). As of this writing, they aren’t available in Williamson County, but the request to cover all of Texas was sent by Governor Abbott’s office on March 17th and is expected to be granted. The SBA also has a huge listing of disaster resources for small businesses.
If you are facing laying off staff or permanent closure, contact Workforce Solutions. They have regular and disaster programming to help you and your staff. There is no catch, no cost. This is a publicly-funded organization.
Also, there’s a huge group of residents in the area turning to Facebook for news and community right now. If you’re an affected restaurant or retailer, hop into some of the Facebook groups and let people know how they can help! Cedar Park Foodies, Leander Neighbors, Help Don’t Hoard Leader, and Williamson County Curbside Restaurants are all great places to start. We’re in this together, just let us know what you need.
Your first stop should be Workforce Solutions. It’s publicly-funded. There’s no cost. They can help you find a job. Let them handle the stress of this.
The Governor has lifted the 10-day waiting period to start claiming unemployment benefits. You can apply on your own, but if you go to Workforce Solutions, they can take care of that for you as well. One stop shopping.
If you really want a job nearby and ASAP, grocery stores and Amazon are in desperate need.
It’s OK to get assistance. A lot of people are going to need it. Hill Country Community Ministries helps people find food and clothing when in need. Opportunities for Williamson & Burnet Counties can help with referrals to services and emergency utility payments.
Speaking of utilities, many providers have suspended disconnections for the time being. If you can’t pay your bill in full, call the service provider and let them know. You can work on a plan together so you don’t go into debt.
LISD has compiled a list of resources to help talk to your kids about COVID-19 and what’s happening in their world right now.
When school reconvenes, it’s probably going to be online. If you don’t have Internet service at home, a lot of providers are offering it free for 60 days for students impacted by COVID-19.
If your kids enjoyed the Pigeon books and Knufflebunny, they might want to tune in everyday to see the author, Mo Willems doing a series called Lunch Doodles on YouTube.
You can also follow along on the adventures of the penguins at the Shedd Aquarium in Chicago. The aquarium is closed to the public and the penguins have to stay inside too, just like us. So every few days, the aquarium posts a video to their facebook page of the penguins wandering around and enjoying the aquarium.
Want more animals? The Toronto Zoo is having their animal keeper talks on Facebook.
Leander ISD Council of PTAs is hosting a weekly art contest. Check their facebook page for details. This week’s theme is nature. Kids can enter a painting, drawing, photo or poem. Winners will be chosen by grade level and awarded a Micheal’s gift card.
Parade Magazine has a fantastic list of 125 things to do with kids on quarantine. It included online things like taking a tour of Sequoia national Park, and offline things like origami.
If you need assistance with food for your children, help is available. There are some resources listed above under “Effectively Unemployed”. Also, Leander ISD will be starting drive-through meal service for low income families.
A Senior Citizen
The grocery stores are crazy right now. The less you have to go, the better. Contact Meals on Wheels to help keep you home.
While many stores are advertising senior hours, it appears to be a suggestion to their customers and not something that’s strictly enforced. You might be better off asking a friend or neighbor to pick up groceries for you. The Help Don’t Hoard Leander facebook group is full of people that would be happy to help. We’re all in this together.
If you’re looking for restaurant meals, they’re still open for takeout or delivery. You can call them directly or use a locally-run service like Local Eat & Drink.
A Data Nerd
This handy map tells you if there are reported COVID-19 cases around you. You can also see how the outbreak is affecting the entire US, county by county.
This interactive visualization shows every case reported in Singapore. It helps get an idea of how cases are spread and the duration of illness.
This site gives links to Coronavirus data in every country that has a confirmed case.
Don’t panic. Don’t run to the emergency room. Call your doctor and follow their advice. Stay home and away from people as much as you can.
If you feel dissatisfied with the response from your doctor, call 2-1-1.
Symptoms show up 2 – 14 days after exposure. For information about what to watch for and what underlying conditions create risk, check the Williamson County & Cities Health District website.
It’s OK to be scared. This is unprecedented. Remember that the big danger is not typically catching the virus itself. The big danger is that everyone catches it at the same time. Stay home as much as you can and limit your exposure to people and surfaces that can infect you.
Limit your risk by washing your hands frequently and cleaning and disinfecting surfaces around you. Know what sanitizing products work to disrupt Coronavirus on surfaces. The CDC and American Chemistry Association have created this list of proven sanitizing products.
Fear and stress can actually make you sick, don’t let them overwhelm you. Try downloading an app like Stop, Breathe & Think to help keep things in check. You can also try online counseling through services like Better Help.
Use your downtime at home wisely. This is a great time to clean and organize. Cluttered spaces are proven to add subconscious stress. Once your space is set, try calming activities like coloring or doing puzzles. If you have a current library card, you can borrow ebooks and audiobooks through an app called Overdrive.
This is a tough one. As much as we sometimes wish we could stay home and avoid the world, being mandated to feels strange. Remember though that it’s social distancing, not social isolation. Use this time to call and catch up with friends and family members. We’re all in the same boat and everyone could use a little encouragement and love.
Find your tribe. Check out Facebook and Reddit. Find people with the same interests as you and create some new, distant friendships.
This is not the end of times. It’s weird, but it’s temporary and we’re going to be OK. We’re in this together, so let’s work together. If you have links, resources, tips, or anything else, share them! You can post them in the comments here or on facebook, anywhere they can help. Leander is not just a place, it’s a community. We’re always looked out for each other. We’re not going to stop now.