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Covid 19 Information from the Jewish Federation of Greater Houston

as of April 23, 2020

Updates from the City of Houston and Harris County


On the heels of yesterday’s face covering mandate, Mayor Turner has instructed Houston Police not to issue citations to those not wearing masks. Instead, the Mayor has asked police to give masks to those in need. To that end, the Mayor participated in a face covering drive in Northwest Houston. Mayor Turner has committed to giving away 200,000 face masks to vulnerable communities. Constable Alan Rosen has partnered with churches in the northside to give away 100 free masks at 7 different church sites. Constable Ted Heap handed out over 6,000 free masks and COVID19 kits in Katy Prairie. Finally, Houston Metro will give free masks to passengers.   


The City of Houston set up a new website to help victims of domestic violence. In partnership with the Houston Area Women’s Center, the City’s website,, will offer resources to people in a domestic crisis. Area shelters continue to follow social distancing, mask wearing, and sanitizing to ensure they can offer a safe refuge for those who need it. People in crisis can also call 713-528-2121. District C Council Member Abbie Kamin helped lead this initiative in response to the Houston Police reports of a rise in domestic violence cases during this time.


Harris County Public Health released a new simplified COVID19 assessment tool today. The County Judge is encouraging all persons who suspect they might have COVID19 to get tested. Tests are no longer reserved for individuals showing symptoms. You can access the new tool here.


Mental Health Services


Mental Health America has a website dedicated to helping people experiencing anxiety or other mental health effects from the COVID19 crisis. The website has a long list of resources people can access during this time. Locally, Jewish Family Service continues to offer group and individual telehealth counseling. They can assist with economic, educational, health/wellness, and nutrition services. The Federation is proud to partner with JFS on this effort.  


Plasma and Blood Donors Still Needed


Methodist Hospital is still conducting its plasma drive for individuals who have recovered from COVID19. This new therapy to treat critically ill COVID19 patients is promising and donors are still needed. If you or someone you know has a positive COVID19 test, is fully recovered for two weeks or more, and have no underlying health conditions, call 346-238-4360 to donate.


The Gulf Coast Regional Blood Bank is still in need for blood donations. They are by appointment only in order to maintain proper social distancing.


Security During COVID19


It is important to be aware of cyber threats and fraud during this stressful time. The Secure Communities Network will be hosting a webinar on April 30th called “Cyber-Threat, Fraud, and Crime.”


Second Round of Paycheck Protection Program Funding


The Senate passed the fourth COVID19 relief bill last Tuesday. This new round of funds will include $310 billion additional Paycheck Protection Program funds. It is expected that most banks will take applications out of the queue from the last round of funding, however, it is up to bank discretion. If you did not receive PPP funds in the first round, you are still eligible to take advantage of the program during the second phase. Be sure to check-in with your bank to see the status of your application.

as of April 22, 2020

Harris County and City of Houston Updates


Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo signed an executive order today requiring all people to wear a face covering when out in public. This order begins on Monday, April 27th, and is effective for 30 days. Here’s what the order means:

  • All persons out in public are to wear a face covering
    • not requiring a medical mask
    • can make your own face covering using a bandana, scarf, or handkerchief
    • this does not replace the social distancing order—must still maintain at least 6 feet from people outside of your household
  • Exemptions from wearing a face covering
    • People with medical or mental health conditions that would be exasperated by wearing a face covering
    • People under the age of 10 years old (encouraged to wear one, but not required)
    • People exercising alone
    • People eating
  • Enforcement
    • Law enforcement officers are being encouraged to concentrate on education about face coverings and staying at home
    • But violations can result in a fine


Mayor Tuner announced a partnership with Lone Star Community College to hand out face coverings and hand sanitizer to vulnerable populations. The Mayor especially encourages people using mass transit to wear a face covering. Dr. Umar Shah has created a video on the proper type of face covering and Harris County Public Health has a helpful infographic on why face coverings are one of the tools in combating the spread of COVID19. 


Both the Mayor and County Judge stated that April is a key month for our area. The longer we see a decline in positive cases and once we see a sustained decline in COVID19 hospital bed occupancy, then restrictions can be lifted. The County Judge announced that, according to Rice University, about 4,500 lives have been saved by social distancing and the Stay Home, Work Safe order.  


In other news…


Today is Earth Day! While we Earthlings are stuck down here, there is a group of astronauts in the International Space Station (ISS) who are orbiting 240 miles away from COVID19. To celebrate the 50th anniversary of Earth Day, the ISS is giving you fun facts about life in space. These scientists are experts in social distancing, staying in space anywhere from 6 months to a year. I can only imagine how many Zoom calls they must make during their stay. Go ahead and put on an official NASA Earth mask over your face covering to show your support for our lovely planet.

as of April 21, 2020

Updates from the City of Houston and Harris County


This afternoon, Mayor Tuner announced a partnership with the Houston Food Bank and Walmart to establish a food distribution center at the West Gray Multipurpose Center. This new food pantry will be for persons with disabilities and METRO will help deliver food to individuals who are unable to go to the multiservice center in person. Houstonians with disabilities can call 832-394-0814 for non-perishable food delivery.


The Houston Food Bank announced that they are currently operating at 150% capacity. The food bank has several ways you can help during this crisis, from volunteering to food donations to mask donations. 


There were 20 new COVID19 positive cases in the City of Houston and no new fatalities. Harris County saw 146 new cases and 1 new fatality. These numbers are promising, and the Texas Medical Center is reporting that they are still within their current capacity. However, government officials use the bed capacity in the hospitals to gauge the COVDI19 curve. These are found via the SETRAC website. The current bed usage for COVID19 positive cases has flattened in Harris County but officials are waiting to see a sustained decline.  


Both the Mayor and County Judge emphasized that the current Stay Home, Work Safe order and the use of face masks and social distancing are working. Now is not the time to lessen the restrictions out of fear that there will be a spike in new cases that takes our hospital system above capacity. Both Dr. Persse (City of Houston) and Dr. Shaw (Harris County) spoke about the need to contain asymptomatic and pre-symptomatic persons so they do not contribute to the spreading of COVID19. Therefore, the Mayor and County Judge are emphasizing the use of face masks for all people when out in public—whether you are doing a grocery run or going for a run in a park. The CDC has released instructions for homemade face coverings.


Additionally, the Mayor and County Judge indicated that they are working well with Governor Abbot and that they see no issues with the retail to-go order or the re-opening of state parks with the social distancing restrictions in place and mandate on face masks.


Judge Hidalgo mentioned the cautionary tale of Singapore, which was a leader in COVID19 management until cases spiked uncontrollably. Now Singapore has the highest infection rate of all Southeast Asia.  


Finally, Dr. Shaw stressed that people experiencing other medical emergencies, like a heart attack or stroke, should go to the emergency room. He stated that area hospitals have taken measures to separate general emergency room patients from COVDI19 patients.


Hurricane Season and Security


Before COVID19 was widespread in the Houston area, the JRAN was meeting to discuss hurricane resiliency and security. These are important issues that we need to continue thinking about as we look forward.


Hurricane season is June 1 – November 30. The Texas Emergency Preparation Supplies Tax Holiday is April 25-27th. All approved emergency preparation purchases, including hand sanitizer and soap, will be tax exempt during this time. In order to encourage social distancing, online purchases are also included (be sure to read the fine print!).

as of April 20, 2020

Today, we will go over the Houston area’s new recovery czars and what it takes for a full recovery, according to the experts; federal stimulus measures; and community happenings.


Houston Area Recovery – First Steps


Today, the County Judge and Mayor announced their Recovery Czars. Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo appointed State Representative Armando Walle (Aldine) and Mayor Sylvester Turner appointed Marvin Odum, who led the Mayor’s recovery efforts after Hurricane Harvey.


Both the County Judge and Mayor have been steadfast in their agreement that we cannot open the City or County until there is a significant increase in testing. Here is what that means, according to the Mayor:

  • Currently, Houston public testing sites have the capacity to test 1,000 per day. The City is meeting that capacity by 3 p.m. everyday
  • Need to increase that to 3,000-5,000 tests per day in order to fully understand and track carriers of COVID19
  • Need to also have tracing capabilities so can catch those who might have been infected in a timely manner

It is important to note that neither the Mayor nor the County Judge have set a timeline to opening the Houston economy. Rather, they have stated that testing, therapeutic treatments, and a vaccine are all components to a full recovery. Both have also stressed that opening will be done slowly and in stages.


Dr. Persse, the Houston Health Authority, noted that testing is crucial because data is showing that 20-50% of people infected with COVID19 are either asymptomatic (showing no signs) or pre-symptomatic (showing signs several days after test). These silent spreaders of COVID19 are contributing to the rise in infections, some of which require hospitalization. Those hospitalizations then tax our medical system, and some infections become fatal. The number one concern from the County and City is to preserve life and not break the medical system we have in place.

The new studies showing that people can be carriers of COVID19 without ever developing symptoms has led to the new recommendations that all people wear a face mask when out in public.

  • There is not a current Houston mandate because the Mayor believes that face masks are not readily available to all people, of particular concern is for individuals who cannot afford to get one
  • Face masks are to protect others from you potentially being a carrier, not to protect you from others


Yesterday, during a press conference, President Trump announced that the Greater Houston area had a decline in COVID19 cases, however, that is not the case according to the Mayor and County Judge. During both Mayor Tuner and County Judge Hidalgo’s press conferences, they announced a flattening of the curve, but not a decline. Judge Hidalgo stated that there were 47 new cases and 3 deaths yesterday and Mayor Turner announced 107 new cases and no new deaths. You can see the case count here.


Johns Hopkins University released guidance for Governors for phased re-opening based on the American Enterprise Institute’s guidelines. There are 4 phases to opening:

  1. Slow the spread – current stage
    1. Social distancing
    2. Diagnostic testing
    3. Functioning health care system
    4. Increase supply of personal protection equipment (PPE)
    5. Covid19 surveillances
    6. Large scale contact tracing and isolation
    7. Public to wear masks (where we are now)
  2. State-by-state reopening
    1. Case-based interventions
    2. Relax social distancing
    3. Special care for vulnerable populations
    4. Develop therapeutic remedies
    5. Identify those who are immune 
  3. Establish immune protection and lift physical distancing
    1. Produce vaccine or therapeutic remedies

                                                    i.     Prioritize when limited

                                                   ii.     Mass distribution when supply is abundant

    1. Global vaccine
    2. Surveys to determine population immunity
  1. Rebuild our readiness for next pandemic
    1. Scale up development of future vaccines
    2. Fortify health care system
    3. Establish a national infectious disease forecasting center
    4. Establish governance


Dr. Umair Shaw, executive director of Harris County Public Health, is answering questions about COVID19. You can submit your questions to Today, he answered a question about whether warm weather will slow the transmission of COVID19. Coronaviruses do have seasonal variations and have been known to slow down in hot weather. However, this is a new virus, so we don’t know.


Stimulus Measures


Today, millions of stimulus checks will be sent via U.S. mail. Most individual stimulus payments were direct deposited into accounts last week, but some were not.


Last week, the CARES Act ran out of the $349 billion for the Paycheck Protection Program. Tomorrow at 1 p.m. CT the Jewish Federations of North America will host a Zoom call to provide an update on the fourth stimulus package. Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Ben Cardin (D-MD) will be on the call to answer questions. You can register here.


Did your organization apply for the Paycheck Protection Program? I would love to know what your experience was like. Please let me know if you applied for funds and how much you received.


Other Community Happenings


Wednesday, the ADL will be hosting a webinar on how to protect children from online harassment. You can register here. This is of importance as we move our K-12 education online.


Tomorrow, the Greater Houston Partnership will host a webinar on layoff and furloughs. You can register here.


Our own Lisa Klein will be hosting a webinar tomorrow at 1 p.m. titled “Creating Networks for Support, Collaboration, and Strength.” You can register here.


Mayor Tuner announced the “Take Us to Your Table” campaign to encourage restaurant to-go to help the ailing service sector. The Texas Restaurant Relief Fund is helping to hire local restaurants to deliver meals to the Texas Medical Center and first responders.


H-E-B has added Chef Hugo Ortega’s restaurants, Backstreet Café and Hugos, to it’s in-store to-go meals. I know what I’m having for dinner in 7-10 days (or whenever I can get an H-E-B curbside window).


Senator Ted Cruz and Senator Kristin Gillibrand have launched the #CombatCOVID19Challenge as a way to encourage acts of kindness and support. Sen. Cruz challenged Mayor Turner and Mattress Mack and both stepped up…who will you challenge? 



  • The Jewish Federation of Greater Houston’s COVID19 resource page can be found here.
  • Harris County has a list of resource here.
  • The Harris County COVID19 Case tracker can be found here.
  • Volunteer Houston Continues to update their COVID19 resource page here.
  • Houston City Council Member Abbie Kamin is keeping a list of local resources here.
  • Congresswoman Lizzie Fletcher has developed a small business resource guide. You can find it here.
  • The University of Houston has developed a resource book for the Houston area. You can find it here.

as of April 17, 2020

Today, we will cover the Governor’s press conference, Bob Harvey’s update from the Greater Houston Partnership and the Texas Medical Center, and Mayor Tuner’s press conference.


Strike Force to Open Texas


Governor Abbot announced the newly developed “Strike Force to Open Texas” during his press conference today. Here is a breakdown of what was announced:

  • Over 1 million people have filed for unemployment during the COVID19 pandemic
  • The new executive order continues to maintain the same federally established social distancing guidelines
  • The Strike Force will (among other things):
    • Make recommendations to safely and strategically re-open the Texas economy and ease restrictions 
    • Collaborate with medical professionals
    • How to re-open key Texas institutions (workforce, education, health care, energy, infrastructure, arts, culture, and entertainment)
    • Spur economic growth for small businesses and rural communities
    • Have a Chief Operating Officer to staff the Strike Force and establish the following working groups:
      • Workforce, Economic Development, and International Trade; Education; Fiscal Accountability; Energy; Arts, Culture, and Entertainment; Health Care Systems; Infrastructure; and Emergency Management and Supply Chain
    • Have Chief Medical Advisors


Mayor Turner announced today that he is looking at the Governor’s order and will assess what is best for Houston.


The Governor established a new timeline for opening the Texas economy (and I added Houston’s orders as well):

  • April 17th
    • Establishment of the Strike Force
    • Schools closed for remainder of 2019-2020 school year: public, private, and higher education closed, information on schools can be found from the Texas Education Agency’s COVID19 website
      • The Governor mentioned that his office will be in touch about how to approach summer instruction but did not specify if that will be online or in-person and he did not mention what “school year” means. If we go with the academic calendars, here are two from Texas’ largest school districts and the Teachers Union timeline:
    • City of Houston parks to remain open but still need to be socially distant
      • Parking lots closed to encourage only those nearby to walk to the parks
      • Gated parks will remain closed
      • Can visit neighborhood parks
  • April 20th
    • All state parks to reopen; strict guidelines on social distancing, must wear a face       mask, cannot congregate more than 5 people
  • April 21st
    • March 22nd executive order to preserve personal protective equipment (PPE) to expire
    • New executive order still requires all licensed medical professionals to postpone nonessential surgeries and medical procedures through May 8th
    • Exemptions to the executive order:
      • Can do procedures that do not deplete hospital capacity or PPE needed for treatment of COVID19
      • Surgeries or procedures preformed by licensed health care facilities may proceed so long as 25% of hospital capacity is reserved for COVID19 treatment and the facility can privately procure PPE
  • April 24th
    • Retail-to-go: retail operations can offer pick-up and delivery services but retailers must adhere to the Texas Department of State Health Services guidelines.  Employees must:
      • Be trained in cleaning, hygiene and respiratory practices
      • Be screened for symptoms
      • Wear face coverings
      • Maintain 6 feet between employees  
    • Schools: Teachers and staff may go to classrooms to retrieve supplies for remote teaching and clean out classrooms 
  • April 30th
    • Executive Order for retail-to-go to expire and is not expected to be extended as is, Strike Force to look at new Executive Order to replace that considers ways to safely reopen the economy
  • May 8th
    • Executive order on restricting medical procedures expires
  • May 31st
    • City of Houston orders to expire


Greater Houston Partnership Update (including results from the Texas Medical Center)


Yesterday, the Greater Houston Partnership (GHP) held its weekly President’s report with Bob Harvey. During the report, he gave an update from the Texas Medical Center (TMC) regarding COVID19 rates within the 9 county region of Greater Houston. Here is a breakdown of the update:

  • The Federal CARES Act is almost out of funds but we expect a COVID 4 stimulus package next week
  • Unemployment rates in Houston continue to climb, currently at 180,000 claims
  • TMC is reporting that COVID19 reports are starting to ease
    • Mayor tuner stated today that the curve is easing but we have not reached the peak 
    • In March we saw COVID19 infections increase about 7 times each week, early April it increased about 2.5 times each week, now the increase is about 2 times per week
    • Past two weeks, we have seen a trend downward in COVID19 positive and Persons Under Investigation (PUI = people who are symptomatic but not tested)
    • TMC and hospital affiliates are within their capacity, PPE supplies are within capacity, need more testing kits
    • COVID19 cases account for 23% of ICU beds in the Houston area, 39% are non-COVID19 related, and 23% are unoccupied
  • GHP has a business recovery website set up, it includes a lot of information for business owners


Update from Mayor Turner


During today’s press conference, Mayor Turner announced that he will appoint a local leader to oversee the City of Houston’s recovery efforts on Monday. Dr. Persse announced that there were over 100 new cases today, indicates a flattening of the curve but not a decline. More deaths to report, but all with underlying conditions and most elderly.

  • Need to continue social distancing in order to keep the trend flat or declining
  • Need rapid testing, current wait is 6 days for results
  • Need widespread ubiquitous testing for the whole Greater Houston area

Mayor Turner ended by announcing he will be “booging down” to a virtual high school prom—watch out kids!


as of April 14, 2020

Today we will cover City of Houston updates, SBA loans, and ways to continue supporting local restaurants.


COVID 19 Testing Sites and City Updates


Today, Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo announced two new “pop-up” COVID19 testing sites, bringing the county’s daily testing capacity to 700. Together with the City of Houston, our area will have the ability to test 1,000 per day.

  • The two temporary sites will start in Humble and Tomball and rotate around the city
  • Each will have the ability to test 100 people per day
  • The Texas Department of Health and Human Services has a COVID19 drive-thru testing map where you can put in your location and find all sites near you


Mayor Turner will be holding daily press conferences. Here is a breakdown of what was discussed today:

  • Mayor Turner announced 40 new cases of COVID19 in the City and 5 new deaths
  • Since opening the City’s COVID19 testing center to the public, the call center has been overwhelmed with demand for unique codes
    • They will be capping the unique codes to 1,000 per day
    • They were at 800 code by 1 p.m. today
  • Dr. Presse, the City of Houston Health Authority, stated there is an increase in the inconsistency of reporting due to back logs at testing sites (private and public) and the processing labs
    • Looking at the day-over-day reports is not as helpful as looking at longer trends
  • Chief Buenik from the City of Houston Office of Public Safety and Homeland Security is asking for PPE donations for City personnel 
  • Hospitals within the 9 county Greater Houston Area are still within their capacity
  • The City has 250 home-based tests for vulnerable persons (via a public-private partnership)


Harris County also set up a field hospital at NRG park. This is in anticipation of a surge of COVID19 positive cases, with an initial capacity of 250 and a maximum capacity of 2,000 beds. Currently, area hospitals are still within their capacity, but officials anticipate that in the coming weeks the Houston area might see “peak” COVID19 infections. The Texas Medical Center has been ramping up their capacity the past couple of weeks and has been producing modeling of equipment needs based on the effectiveness of the Stay Home, Work Safe order.   


You can save a trip to a testing site by using the Harris County self-assessment tool. The County Judge is reminding people that you do not need a confirmed test to treat yourself for COVID19. The COVID19 test is merely a diagnostic tool, not a vaccine. If you think you have COVID19, treat yourself like you do and call your primary care physician for guidance.


SBA Loans – Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) Update


The Small Business Administration (SBA) has updated its application process for the Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL). There is a new streamlined application that businesses and organizations must fill out even if you have already filled out the EIDL early in the process. The EIDL process has been messy from the beginning and demand for the loans far exceeded the capacity, so the SBA has gone back and adjusted the application and rules. One of the big changes came yesterday afternoon when the SBA announced that the $10,000 advance will be limited to $1,000 per employee. So, if your organization has less than 10 employees, you will not be eligible to receive the max advance amount. There are also reports that EIDL funds are taking a lot longer to deposit into accounts. Something to keep in mind as you wait for Federal relief.


Faith-based organizations are eligible to receive EIDL funds.


Representative Lizzie Fletcher will be hosting a small business webinar on April 17th at 12 p.m. that will address some of these issues.


If you have any questions or need guidance on the SBA loan process, please let me know. We have volunteers willing to help guide you through the process.


Take Out Tuesday (Yes, it’s a thing)


Today is #takeoutTuesday! Don’t forget, our Kosher and Jewish-owned restaurants are open for business and several are offering Passover friendly items. If you don’t want to order take out for yourself, you can feed medical professionals in the Texas Medical Center through Feed the Front Lines, and Give InKind Meals.



  • The Jewish Federation of Greater Houston’s COVID19 resource page can be found here.
  • Harris County has a list of resource here.
  • The Harris County COVID19 Case tracker can be found here.
  • Volunteer Houston Continues to update their COVID19 resource page here.
  • Houston City Council Member Abbie Kamin is keeping a list of local resources here.
  • Congresswoman Lizzie Fletcher has developed a small business resource guide. You can find it here.
  • The University of Houston has developed a resource book for the Houston area. You can find it here.


In other news…


There has been a lot of talk about self-care and home workouts during the Stay Home orders. The Nike Training Club app is offering free workouts and celeb favorite Peloton is offering a free 90 day trial for their app. But the best free workout making rounds on social media has got to be the one from Yoweri Museveni, the President of Uganda. After discouraging people from running and working out in groups, President Museveni took to the Internet to show people how to properly train alone (in sweats and with photographers!) and it’s pretty great.


as of April 13, 2020

Today, we will go over updates from the City of Houston, the Texas Paycheck Protection Program and the Harris County Forgivable Loan Program, paid leave and unemployment rules, a call to action for expanding Paycheck Protection Program funding, insight into when we can expect to go back to normal, a very special tribute, and resources.


City of Houston COVID 19 Updates


The City of Houston announced today that both of their free COVID19 sites will be open to the public—regardless of symptoms. You must still call the City’s COVID19 hotline, 832-393-4220, to get a unique code before receiving directions to the site. You can expect long lines as the sites gear up for increased capacity. The Texas Department of Health and Human Services has a FAQ page on drive-thru testing and how to get the results of your test. 


Houston parks were ordered to close over the Easter weekend but are back in business today. Playgrounds, exercise equipment and benches are still off limits and the CDC is recommending that you wear a cloth face mask in public.


The City has a website for people looking to help and for those seeking help during these troubling times. Resources range from food to pets to childcare. 


Texas Small Business Loans


Today, Governor Greg Abbott announced a partnership with Goldman Sachs and LifeFund for $50 million in loans for Texas small businesses. This is part of the bigger Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) funds administered through the Small Business Administration. You can apply through LiftFund’s website. As with all these programs, funds are limited and it is first come, first serve.


Harris County Forgivable Loan Program


On Friday, Harris County released the applications for its version of the Paycheck Protection Program—the Harris County Forgivable Loan Program. The site was overwhelmed with applications and competition for the County’s $10 million program was higher than its capacity. As a result, the Harris Galveston Area Council has closed the program as it processes $151 million in applications.


Paid Leave and Unemployment Benefits During COVID19


The National Employment Law Project and Family Values Work released a COVD19 Paid Leave and Unemployment flowchart to help navigate benefits. This might be useful for institutions trying to figure out what their obligations are, especially when it comes to paid sick leave.


The Texas Workforce Commission has expanded its call center hours to 7 days a week from 7 a.m. – 7 p.m. You can call them at 800-939-6631. You can also apply online, but keep in mind that the site is overwhelmed during the day. The best times to apply are from midnight to 5 a.m. 


Jewish Federations of North America – Call to Action


The Jewish Federations of North America (JFNA) is asking for your help to get the emergency supplemental appropriations bill passed that would allocate an additional $250 billion for the PPL Program. Here are the four main points JFNA is asking for:

  • ALLOCATE at least $250 billion in additional funding for the PPL Program;
  • ENSURE that nonprofits are able to access these funds on equal priority with for-profit businesses; 
  • ALLOW larger nonprofits (those with more than 500 employees) to participate in the PPL Program; and
  • URGE Senators McConnell and Schumer to include these provisions in their next legislative initiative. 


Here’s who to contact:


Senator Ted Cruz

(202) 224-5922


Senator John Cornyn

(202) 224-2934



Senator, thank you for your leadership in responding to the COVID-19 pandemic and for supporting the CARES Act which provides funds for hard-hit small businesses. It was a good start toward recognizing and addressing the needs nonprofits face now, but the reality is that more will be needed. Organizations such as Jewish Federations and Jewish human service agencies, that provide food, medicine, and other basic needs to hundreds of thousands of people every day, remain unable to access those funds and deliver the lifesaving services that people of all faiths and creeds need. I am calling to ask you to support at least $250 billion in new funding that will replenish the oversubscribed SBA Paycheck Protection Loan Program; to set aside funds for nonprofits or take other steps to ensure that nonprofits can access these funds on an equal priority with for-profit companies; and permit larger nonprofits with more than 500 employees to access the program. I am counting on you to help sustain the vital work of our nonprofit agencies. Will you deliver this message to Senate leadership? Thank you for your time.


Going Back to the “Old Normal”


While it is difficult to grasp how long we will be living in our “new normal” we do know that at some point, we will be able to go back to our not-so-socially-distant life. The question at the top of everyone’s mind is: when? I do not know the exact answer, but officials have recently indicated what needs to happen before the Stay Home orders can be lifted.


First, Dr. Anthony Fauci stated that we can expect to see rolling reentry when we have the capacity to increase our testing abilities to identify infected individuals quickly. We also know that Harris County officials have indicated that when we have enough evidence to be able to determine that our curve has flattened for prolonged periods of time, we can begin lifting the Stay Home, Work Safe order. A good way to see where we are is from the County’s COVID19 dashboard.


Last week, Rice University sent an email to all students indicating that they expect to open campus as early as July 1st. Subject to change, of course.


It is not a crystal ball, but we do know that the more seriously we take the Stay Home, Work Safe order and necessary precautions, like wearing cloth face masks when out in public, the better our chances are at flattening the curve, going to back to normal, and—most importantly—saving lives.


A Tribute to Rabbi Leibel Groner


Today’s JRAN email is dedicated to the life of Rabbi Leibel Groner, grandfather to our very own Sarah Sandhaus. Rabbi Groner lost his battle with COVID19 last week in Brooklyn, NY, just as we prepared for Passover. He was an important figure in the Chabad-Lubavitch movement, being a direct decedent of the founding Rabbi and serving as the Rebbe's secretariat. Listening to Sarah fondly remember her Zeyde and the impact he had is moving. His lasting influence on the Chabad community will be forever felt and his legacy in his children and grandchildren will continue to live.



Council Member Abbie Kamin is keeping a list of local resources here.

Congresswoman Lizzie Fletcher has developed a small business resource guide. You can find it here.

The University of Houston has developed a resource book for the Houston area. You can find it here.


This week, as we stay home or put on our face masks when we venture out for essentials, let us remember Rabbi Groner. And let us pray that no more succumb to this illness and be take from our lives too soon. May his memory truly be a blessing.

as of April 7, 2020

Today we will go over the Harris County Commissioners Court’s new small business forgivable loan

program, Israel’s Passover lockdown and the Orthodox Union’s new rules for Pesach (hint: stay home),

the closure of Texas State Parks, the Kinder Institutes assessment of the stay at home order, and a

running list of resources as we navigate through our new normal.


Harris County Small Business Economic Assistance Loan Program


BREAKING: The Harris County Commissioners Court just approved a $10 million forgivable loan for small

businesses. This loan program is a partnership between Harris County and the

 Houston Galveston Area Council (H-GAC). Here is a breakdown of the Small Business Economic

Assistance Loan Program:

  • Loans are up to $25,000
  • 0% interest, potentially forgivable if all conditions are met
    • Must be used for essential business expenses like payroll, health benefits, and bills
  • Eligible businesses must have:
    • A net worth less than $15 million
    • Average net income of $5 million or less for the preceding two years
    • Been operating for at least one year
    • Good standing with county property taxes
    • Proven financial impact as a direct result of COVID19
  • The County will cover administration fees, but businesses must cover closing costs
    • Loans would be payable over 5 years, first 3 months would be a grace period
  • A business can apply for both the Harris County loan and Federal loan programs
  • (Paycheck Protection Program and the Economic Injury Disaster Loan)


More details to come in the next few days.


Israel’s Passover Lockdown and the American Orthodox Community’s New Passover Rules


The Israeli Cabinet has approved a nation-wide lock down beginning at 7 p.m. IDT Tuesday – until 6 a.m.

IDT Friday. Additional requirements mandate that all persons wear facemasks in public. These are some

of the newest efforts by Israeli officials to help flatten the curve of COVID19 in the country.


In America, top Orthodox Groups have cautioned against gathering outside your own home this Passover.

This overrules prior guidance that suggested those who self-quarantine for two weeks could join another

family for the Passover meal. Current guidance from the Orthodox Union, the Agudath Israel of America,

Igud HaRabbanim – Rabbinical Alliance of America, The Lakewood Vaad, National Council of Young

Israel, and Rabbinical Council of America now are asking that all Jews celebrate Pesach from their own

homes this year to avoid spreading COVID19.


Here is yesterday’s statement from the OU: “Everyone must plan to celebrate Pesach where they are

currently. Travel to other cities, or visits with family even within your city, should be cancelled. This applies

to the entirety of Pesach, including Chol HaMoed and the last days.”


Texas Parks Department – Temporarily Closed


Today, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department announced that all Texas parks will be closed until further

notice. Parks officials were having difficulty managing crowds, sanitizing parks, and complying with social

distancing guidelines.


Kinder Institute – Stay Home to Save Lives


The Kinder Institute for Urban Research at Rice University estimates that 4,533 lives have been saved as

Sat, May 30 2020 7 Sivan 5780