Coronavirus Updates: The Latest Closings, Cancellations and Developments
BPUB Activates General Emergency Plan
On MArch 27, the Brownsville Public Utilities Board (BPUB) General Emergency Plan and the Pandemic Response Plan have been activated effective Thursday, March 26, 2020, at 5 p.m.
BPUB operations crews are still working and maintaining utility services, and they are prepared to handle any service-related issues during this time. These employees have been instructed on the disease prevention methods recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
BPUB offices closed to customers and visitors starting Tuesday, March 17, 2020, at 5 p.m. Offices will reopen after the dangers associated with the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic pass. In the meantime, there still are customer service agents ready to assist customers over the phone or by email.
BPUB support staff and crews will remain on duty throughout this situation and will work to restore utility services whenever it’s needed and safe to do so. Customers can call 956-983-6300 for service outages and emergencies or use the BPUB web-based app at https://assist.brownsville-pub.com. Customers with general questions can call 956-983-6121, Monday through Friday, 7:30 a.m.-5:30 p.m.
The public can rest assured that the utilities will remain abreast of the situation throughout the pandemic. Information is also available on the BPUB website at www.brownsville-pub.com, Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/brownsvillepub or Twitter at https://twitter.com/BPUB_Tweets.
New Processes For Child Care Capacity For Front Line Workers
On March 27, Governor Greg Abbott today waived certain Texas Workforce Commission (TWC) regulations to preserve and extend child care capacity for front line workers.
These waivers will allow TWC the flexibility to respond to child care needs, and are part of the Governor's work through the Supply Chain Strike Force to strengthen child care infrastructure for critical workers during the COVID-19 response. These waivers ensure that families using child care subsidized through TWC will not lose their slots during this interim period while the state battles COVID-19, and it secures payment to child care providers throughout this time.
"Through these waivers, TWC will be able to better respond to the child care needs of our front line workers in Texas," said Governor Abbott. "We remain committed to working with TWC and other state entities to ensure Texans serving on the front lines of the COVID-19 response have the support they need."
Children within TWC's child care services program will be able to accrue absences due to COVID-19 without impacting ongoing eligibility or provider reimbursements. TWC will also be able to waive parent share of cost requirements and direct local workforce development boards to make supplemental emergency payments to child care programs to offset payments lost due to COVID-19. Additionally, these waivers will allow TWC to temporarily broaden the definition of "protective services" to include children of workers on the front lines of the battle against COVID-19.
McAllen Public Utility to Waive Online Convenience Fees
On March27, McAllen Public Utility announced that the online credit card convenience fee will not be charged, beginning today, when using the following payment options:
- Online payments at www.mcallenpublicutility.com;
- Payments utilizing the automated phone system at 681-1600, which is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. When using this payment option, the message will announce that there will be a convenience fee, but customers can disregard the announcement at such time;
- Quick Pay, one-time payment, via the website at www.mcallenpublicutility.com; and
- Over the phone talking to a customer service agent at 681-1600.
Please note all payments made via the mobile app will still incur the convenience fee until further notice. MPU mobile app customers can avoid the fee, by using the above-mentioned payment options.
Additionally, all late payment fees will be waived, beginning April 1, 2020 and continuing through April 30, 2020.
The MPU customer service drive-thru payment operation at McAllen City Hall at 1300 W. Houston Avenue will remain open, 7:30 a.m. – 5:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.
Financial Information for Families and Seniors
On March 27, Congressman Vicente Gonzalez (TX-15) released an FAQ for seniors and families on how to receive funds following the passage of H.R. 748, The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. The FAQ contains specifics on how this bill will address the financial needs of seniors and families impacted by the global coronavirus pandemic.
“If constituents, families, seniors, veterans and others are worried about how to obtain funds following the passage of this legislation, we have answers for them,” said Congressman Gonzalez. “If anyone has questions, do not hesitate to contact my office and we will help you navigate this process.”
Attached is a short FAQ prepared by the Office of Congressman Vicente Gonzalez on how seniors and families can access important benefits included in the CARES Act.
This FAQ can be found on Congressman Gonzalez’s website here.
McAllen Playgrounds Closed
On March 27, the city of McAllen announced that city playgrounds would close until further notice. Open spaces at city parks and hike-and-bike trails remain open. The city's announcement read:
Earlier today, McAllen Parks & Recreation Director Mike Hernandez announced that playground equipment at all McAllen parks are now closed to the public.
Parks’ open spaces and all hike and bike trails remain open.
While the parks had become a great place for children to exercise and get fresh air, orders regarding social distancing and limiting the groups to less than 10 were being disregarded.
In order to comply with rules and for the safety of the entire community, all playground equipment in McAllen parks are off-limits until further notice. Families are encouraged to enjoy parks’ open spaces and hike and bike trails, while still maintaining social distancing and limiting the groups to less than 10.
McAllen Municipal Court
On March 26, the city of McAllen announced that McAllen Municipal Court hearings and appointments had been canceled. According to the city:
In light of Hidalgo County’s Emergency Order to Shelter In Place, the McAllen Municipal Court encourages all persons who have received and owe tickets to stay home and contact the court by email at MCALLENMUNICIPALCOURT@MCALLEN.NET or by phone at (956) 681-2900 from 7:30 a.m. until 5:30 p.m., Monday through Friday. McAllen Municipal Court will be able to give residents more time to handle citations if they make contact and arrangements by email or phone. Please stay home and stay safe.
Hearings or appointments scheduled with the McAllen Municipal Court have been cancelled. Please contact McAllen Municipal Court to make alternate arrangements.
For those with court hearing scheduled on a case involving Family Violence, please come in for those hearings. Please contact the court to confirm the hearing before coming in.
Chick-fil-A announced that it would temporarily close dining rooms. In a statement, the company said:
"Our highest priority continues to be the health and well-being of everyone who comes into our restaurants. As we navigate the evolving impact of coronavirus on our communities, we are temporarily closing our dining room seating to help limit person-to-person contact. Some of our restaurants may only offer service through our drive-thrus, while others may be able to offer takeout, delivery or mobile order options. Thanks for your patience. We know these are challenging times, but we’ll continue to do our best to serve you."
City of Mercedes
The city of Mercedes announced several steps designed to comply with U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines for limiting the spread of COVID-19:
* Mercedes Municipal Court proceeding are canceled for six weeks.
* The city Easter event is canceled.
* The city will stop disconnecting water customers for non-payment.
* The Little Nashville event is canceled.
* The Mercedes Chamber of Commerce awards banquet is canceled.
Wings Over South Texas Air Show
Naval Air Station Kingsville canceled the 2020 Wings Over South Texas air show, which had been scheduled for April 4 and April 5.
According to a statement released by the naval air station:
The potential for spreading the coronavirus, COVID-19, prompted base leadership, in consultation with Navy Region Southeast, and U.S. Fleet Forces Command to cancel the event.
“Given the restrictions being imposed to control the spread of the coronavirus, we have cancelled Wings Over South Texas 2020,” said Capt. Erik Spitzer, NAS Kingsville Commanding Officer. “I sincerely appreciate all of the hard work and planning that has taken place but the safety and good health of our base personnel and our friends and partners in the community is paramount.”
Morale Welfare and Recreation (MWR) Director Mr. Danny Calhan said his staff will contact customers who purchased upgraded seating or chalets tickets to arrange a refund.
Texas Onion Festival
The Weslaco Chamber of Commerce & Visitors Center announced Friday that the Texas Onion Festival — which had been scheduled for March 28 — has been postponed until further notice.
"It was a difficult decision to postpone this event, however we feel it is the best way to move forward at this time," according to a statement released by the chamber. "We urge our community to continue to follow directives and guidelines from local public health officials."
Starr County Jail
Starr County Sheriff Rene "Orta" Fuentes announced Monday that all inmate visitation at the Starr County jail had been suspended effective immediately.
"The suspension is to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 also known as corona virus," according to the statement. "This suspension is being taken as a precautionary measure and to follow and comply with the recommendation of the Texas Commission on Jail Standards and only applies to public visitations."
Bath & Body Works
Bath & Body Works announced it would temporarily close all stores in the U.S. and Canada.
"With breaking news about COVID-19 constantly developing, our goal has been to make products available to help care for your families and friends to prevent the spread of COVID19/Coronavirus as much as we can. But based on the information we have today, we have made the extremely difficult decision to temporarily close all of our stores in the U.S. and Canada."
Whataburger announced that it would temporarily close dining rooms. In a statement, the company said:
"By 3 p.m. Tuesday, March 17, we will temporarily close dining rooms at all Whataburger restaurants. These closures will begin in select markets March 16 and will continue until further notice. During the time our dining rooms are closed, we are proud to continue to staff our drive-thru – offering a full menu for guests at all of our restaurants 24 hours a day, 7 days a week."
Sephora announced that it would temporarily close all retail stores in the U.S. and Canada. In a statement the company said:
"We have always taken our responsibility to protect the well-being of our people and community seriously. It was with that responsibility in mind that we made this decision."
Macy's, Inc. announced Tuesday that it would temporarily close all stored by the end of the business day through March 31.
“The health and safety of our customers, colleagues and communities is our utmost priority. As a result of the recent COVID-19 developments, we have decided to temporarily close our stores."
Flea Markets in Alamo and Mercedes
The flea markets are not expected to reopen until March 31. Mercadome said in a statement:
"We strongly encourage our fellow customers to avoid large crowd gatherings and other businesses in our community that attract large crowds to do the same.
We also recognize the hardships this decision may have on our customers and vendors and assure you that this decision has not been taken lightly."
Gladys Porter Zoo
Gladys Porter Zoo announced Tuesday, effective immediately, it would remain closed to the public until further notice. In a statement, the zoo said:
"The decision to close the Zoo was a difficult one, however, the health and safety of our guests, staff, and animals is our top priority. Even though there have not been any recorded cases of COVID-19 in Brownsville, it is the Zoo’s responsibility to do what we can to help reduce the spread of the virus."
AMC Theatres announced Tuesday, all U.S. locations would be closed for up to 12 weeks beginning March 17 until further notice as a precaution to slow the spread of COVID-19. In a statement, the company said:
"Today, the federal government recommended no public gatherings take place that are larger than 10 people, making movie theatre operations essentially impossible. Throughout the past several weeks, AMC has complied with all CDC guidelines and governmental mandates.
As a result of the temporary theatre closures, AMC will automatically pause all A-List memberships for the time that AMC theatres are closed, with no billing or payments occurring."
Cinemark Theatres also are closing their doors starting Wednesday, March 18. In a statement, CEO Mark Zoradi said:
"Each of our theatres will be temporarily closed beginning Wednesday, March 18, until we believe it is safe to once again welcome moviegoers to our auditoriums.
We appreciate your many concerns during these truly unprecedented times, and we want to relieve any uncertainties that you may have about your loyalty membership with Cinemark."
City of La Villa
City officials in La Villa are suspending permits for large special events. The city is also postponing public commission and committee meetings up until March 24; other services are still availble to residents.
Texas State Parks
Texas State Parks announced Thursday that they will be limiting park programming and closing public access to park headquarters, visitor centers and park stores starting at 12 p.m. Thursday, March 19.
“Our main priority has always been the health and wellbeing of our visitors and staff, and in order to maintain this standard to the best of our abilities TPWD facilities will be modifying operations as a precautionary step towards protecting public health.”
Frost Bank announced Mar. 20 it will be temporarily closing their lobbies. In a statement, representatives said:
"Frost’s 104 motor banks around Texas will be fully staffed and will offer expanded services during their usual business hours for the duration of the lobby shutdowns. In addition, customers always have the option of banking online at frostbank.com, via the Frost app, at any of the bank’s network of 1,200 ATMs around the state, or over the phone at (800) 513-7678."
Wells Fargo Bank
Wells Fargo Bank on March 26 announced changes to branch operating hours:
Wells Fargo continues to evaluate the steps necessary to ensure it can best serve customers, protect team members and minimize the spread of COVID-19.
Beginning this week, Wells Fargo adjusted standard branch operating hours across the nation. Most branches will be open from 9:30 a.m. – 4 p.m., Monday through Friday. Branches with Saturday hours will be open from 9 a.m. – noon.
For the most up-to-date information, customers can check Wells Fargo’s branch locator for ATM locations and the status of branches.
Many branches are offering drive-up services with lobbies open for appointments only. Customers can also bank with us from almost anywhere 24 hours a day, 7 days a week using our online and mobile banking features, which include depositing checks, paying bills, transferring money, setting and receiving alerts, and sending and receiving money through Zelle®.
For more information on what Wells Fargo is doing to help its customers and other information, please visit https://www.wellsfargo.com/jump/enterprise/coronavirus-response.
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