Dear Neighbor,

It has been another eventful week across our community, especially as we respond to the increasing cases of COVID-19 in Houston and Harris County.  As our district addresses the many challenges this pandemic has brought, I remain committed to advocating for the needs of our district, and to sharing with you a summary of that work each week:

As you likely know from other sources, the spread of the novel coronavirus across our community and our state is increasing rapidly.  Our public health officials and local elected leaders managing the response have told us in no uncertain times that we are at a critical juncture in our effort to contain the spread.  As of this writing, there are:

I have included links to the sources here (Harris County Public Health, Texas Department of State Health Services) so you can see the additional detailed information, which is updated regularly.  Many of you also asked that I also share information about the number of people who have died as a result of COVID-19.  The number of fathers, mothers, sisters, brothers, aunts, uncles, children, cousins, and friends is heartbreaking and staggering: in Houston and Harris County, 439; in Texas, 3,192, and across the country, 137,000.

The number and severity of the cases has led to record hospitalizations—we sent a new record on Friday with nearly 4,000 people hospitalized for COVID-19 and nearly 50% share in ICUs.

Medical center hospitals last week began implementing COVID-19 surge plans — adding more beds — something leaders thought might not be necessary after volumes fell far short of projections in April and May.  That came as ICU levels topped 100 percent of base capacity for the first time. On Friday, ICU levels were at 105 percent.

Over the weekend, several reports have come out about the increased number of cases and the strain it will put on our region’s hospitals.  Judge Hidalgo and Mayor Turner, who are working closely with the State of Texas and with health care providers have been unambiguous in their warnings this weekend: they have asked us to stay home as much as possible, to follow social distancing guidelines, to wear masks, and to follow guidance on handwashing and other ways to minimize the spread.  I support their efforts to keep our community safe, and urge everyone in the district to follow the guidance.   

We can do this.  Our community rises to the challenge when our neighbors are in need.  And they are in need at this moment.  The danger is not in rising water or hurricane-force winds, but it is every bit as serious.  And we are all able to do something to stop it.  And know that I will continue do all I can to represent and support our community at this challenging time. 

As we reach the halfway point of this eventful year, I am glad to share a mid-year report on my work as your representative to the U.S. Congress.  For much of this year, our community and our country have responded to COVID-19, and that has been a critical focus.  At the same time, my team and I have continued work on other matters of importance to our community.

I am glad to share with you some of the highlights of the first six months of the year and of the 116th Congress to date in this report, which you can access here.

I continue to work with our Houston delegation and with members of Congress across our country to advocate for the needs of Texas’ Seventh Congressional District.

In response to the tragic death of Vanessa Guillen, I joined Congresswoman Sylvia Garcia in calling for the Department of Defense Inspector General conduct an independent investigation into the case of Vanessa Guillen.  We must have full transparency and accountability into the circumstances leading to her death.

Many of you called our office this week in opposition to new rule from the Department of Homeland Security prohibiting international students from studying in the United States this fall if they are taking online coursework.  I also joined more than 100 of my House colleagues in sending a letter to DHS to rescind this guidance and provide certainty for these students and the higher education community.

I also co-sponsored the Research Investment to Spark the Economy (RISE) Act, bipartisan legislation to support university research that has been affected because of COVID-19.  The bill would help keep essential research personnel at universities, including Rice and UH, working and ensure that federally supported research projects can be restarted and completed, despite any disruptions caused by pandemic this year.

One of the great privileges of representing Texas’ Seventh Congressional District is that I can nominate dedicated and talented students to the country’s service academies.  If you know a student interested in applying to the U.S. Military, Air Force, Naval or Merchant Marine Academies next year, I hope you will share the nomination application information, available here

There is also still plenty of time for students to enter the TX-07 Congressional App Challenge as well!  All middle school and high school students in the district – of all levels of coding experience – are invited to participate by creating and submitting an original computer program or app.  More information is available here.

Seeing the creativity of students across the district is so inspiring – I look forward to this year’s submissions.  Our recent winners developed an app to help teach Latin (one I sure could have used in my Latin class!) and an app to minimize food waste and food insecurity by connecting people and resources.

I am proud to represent you, and I am here to help you.  At this important and challenging time, I hope you will let me know how I can.  You can contact me and my team through my website, by email, or on the phone by calling (713) 353-8680 any time.

Best wishes, 

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1429 Longworth House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515
Phone: (202) 225-2571
5599 San Felipe Road, Suite 950
Houston, TX 77056
Phone: (713) 353-8680