(Washington, DC) – Today, Congresswoman Lizzie Fletcher (TX-07) sent the following updates on COVID-19 and on changes to office operations in both her Washington, D.C. and Houston offices to her constituents:
“As our community and communities across the country respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, our priority remains the health and safety of our community. I am writing to share important updates on the work we are doing in Congress and how we will do it going forward.
We are here to serve you, and we will continue to do so. To do so effectively, my office will implement the following new operating procedures, consistent with guidance from public health and safety officials and directives from the House Sergeant at Arms.
Our teams in Washington, D.C. and in Houston will continue working full-time for our constituents from remote locations. Our physical offices in Washington and Houston will be closed to visitors.
We will continue to:
- Receive and respond to telephone calls. If you need to speak to a member of my team, you can call my Washington office at 202-225-2571 or my Houston office at 713-353-8680.
- Provide casework assistance. If you need assistance with a federal agency, we may be able to help. More information can be found here.
- Answer correspondence. The best way to contact my office for assistance is by submitting an email.
- Schedule meetings. If you would like to request a meeting with me or my staff, you can submit a meeting request or email staff directly. Please note, as long as our telecommuting policy is in place, we will conduct meetings over the telephone rather than in person.
The House Sergeant at Arms has notified us that access to the Capitol will be limited, effective at 5:00 p.m. today until April 1, 2020 to protect the health and safety of Members, staff and visitors. The Capitol Visitor Center and the Capitol will be closed to all tours. The White House is also closed to tours. As a result, our office will not be able to conduct Capitol tours or coordinate White House tours until further notice.
Congress continues to work to mitigate the full-scale impacts of the spread of COVID-19 across the country. Last week, we passed emergency funding legislation to provide $8.3 billion to fund the development of treatments and a coronavirus vaccine; protect against price-gouging of medicines; provide public health funding for prevention, preparedness, and response; and support small businesses impacted by the pandemic.
As the pandemic spreads and the full impact on our workers, families, and communities deepens, we are moving comprehensive legislation that addresses many of the concerns I have heard from our neighbors. Soon, the House will vote on the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (H.R. 6201), which bolsters the federal government’s response to the coronavirus outbreak. The legislation is expected to address the severe impacts of the coronavirus on Americans’ personal safety and financial security by providing:
- Free coronavirus testing for everyone who needs a test, including the uninsured;
- Paid emergency leave with both 14 days of paid sick leave and up to three months of paid family and medical leave;
- Enhanced Unemployment Insurance, a first step that will extend protections to furloughed workers;
- Strengthened food security initiatives, including SNAP, student meals, seniors’ nutrition and food banks;
- Clear protections for frontline workers, including health care workers and other workers who are in contact with those who have been exposed or are responsible for cleaning at-risk places; and
- Increased federal funds for Medicaid, as states face increased costs.
Public safety is the first responsibility of government. As your representative, I am working to ensure that we work together to ensure the health and safety of our communities, partnering with local and state responders who are managing this response at home.
Our local leaders and health care professionals are on the frontlines of this epidemic. The City of Houston and Harris County are working to keep us safe, and to keep our community informed as possible.
If you have questions about COVID-19, your first resource should be the Houston Health Department, which has set up a COVID-19 hotline number: 832-393-4220. Residents from the City of Houston and across Harris County are all able to call this line to speak with a representative. Information is also available online.
This outbreak requires a community-wide response, from government action to individual responsibility. Simple, everyday actions – like washing your hands, staying at home if you feel sick, avoiding close contact with people who are sick, and avoiding physical social contact like shaking hands – can go a long way toward protecting yourself and mitigating spread of the virus in our community.
Our community has come together time and again in moments of challenge. We opened up the Astrodome to our neighbors after Katrina, and our homes after Hurricane Harvey. We will face this challenge together.
I am honored to represent and to serve you. And I will be here with a dedicated team to work for you throughout this pandemic to help in every way we can. Please do not hesitate to call us. That’s what we are here for.”
The full email to her constituents is available here.