These last few weeks, I’ve been blessed to be back in Texas talking with folks across our great state about what more Congress can do to help during these turbulent times.
While we’ve been hit hard by the coronavirus outbreak, earlier this year Congress passed legislation called the CARES Act, and I was able to see firsthand how Texans are using this funding to stay afloat and keep folks safe from COVID-19.
My first stop was in the Rio Grande Valley, an area that has received $530 million in relief from the CARES Act. The health care workers at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley are putting that money toward boosting health care resources, and local officials are using it to improve preparedness in their public schools, transportation system, and local universities.
Next, I stopped at Angelo State University (ASU). The San Angelo area received $35 million from CARES, including funds for personal protective equipment and testing. I got to see how ASU has reconfigured their classrooms to maximize safety and hear directly from students about how they used the relief they received from the CARES Act.
In Abilene, I thanked health care workers at Hendrick Health System, who told me how they’d been using their CARES funds. Entities in the Abilene area received $34 million, which has gone toward things like improving health care resources and facilities, contact tracing, and providing hotspots to students for remote learning.
While in Midland I got to stop by and see my friends at the West Texas Food Bank and help pack boxes of food for Permian Basin families in need. The greater Midland area received $61 million from CARES, which has been used to provide assistance to local food banks, improve COVID-related health care facilities, and offer rent relief to Midland residents.
It’s always a treat to stop off in Red Raider country where I visited Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center (TTUHSC) to see how they’re dealing with COVID-19. The Lubbock area received $132 million from CARES, which they’re using to beef up COVID testing and help provide financial aid to Texas Tech students. I also got a look at TTUHSC’s drive-thru testing clinic, also funded by the CARES Act and a demonstration of what telehealth visits are like for rural Texans.
In Amarillo, I paid a visit to TTUHSC’s Pharmacy School, where I got to see the viral transport media lab, which produces vials used in COVID testing and was made possible in part by the CARES Act. The Amarillo area received $64 million for things like city transit systems, testing, and purchasing 20 new ventilators.
I was happy to also stop off in Wichita Falls, an area that received $35 million from the CARES Act. I visited with folks at Community Healthcare Center who gave me a tour of their clinic. I heard how community leaders have strengthened testing, treatment and containment capabilities across health care facilities and school campuses. I was also glad to see that the City of Wichita Falls used its CARES funds to lift up vulnerable members of the community by providing food and housing.
In Tyler, I helped sort, pack, and load boxes of food at the East Texas Food bank, which has served a Texas-sized 3.6 million meals for people in the community who are struggling. The Tyler area received $77 million, which they’ve put to use helping their community in many ways such as by increasing safety measures at schools and universities, helping more than 2,000 students with financial aid, and updating ICU facilities.
I also got to thank employees for all their hard work at the Family Health Center in Waco. The Waco area received $78 million from the CARES Act, and I got to see how they put that money to use by increasing access to PPE and safe public transit, as well as improving resources for public school students.
I also held telephone town halls with Texans in Corpus Christi, Tyler, Austin, and the DFW area. We talked about a range of issues important to them, from the next round of COVID relief to how to most effectively open schools in Texas.
But I’m not done.
I’m looking forward to the next two weeks of visiting with even more Texans all across our great state to learn about how COVID has impacted them and hear their priorities. It certainly hasn’t been an easy year, but getting the chance to mask up and talk to folks back home about how Congress can continue to help them carry on in these uncertain times is incredibly important.As always, stay safe out there, Texas. We’ll get through this.John