April 01, 2020
By Susan M. Redford, TAC Executive Director
As I write this, Texas counties are facing an unprecedented crisis with the advance of COVID-19. Many were under their own disaster declarations before Gov. Greg Abbott issued a statewide order March 19. Conditions are changing rapidly, which means any information I add to this report could be out of date before County magazine can be printed and delivered.
What remains constant is that Texas' 254 counties are working hard to protect their citizens from this pandemic, providing vital emergency services to Texans all over the state. State elected officials and President Donald Trump have acknowledged the role counties play in the health and safety of a nation under siege from an invisible and deadly foe.
At the National Association of Counties' (NACo) Legislative Conference in early March President Trump recognized county health officials for their "frontline role in battling public health threats."
"No one understands the needs of their communities like local officials," President Trump said.
At the time, the President was referring to the work county officials have done to stem the spread of the opioid addiction epidemic. But his remarks were on point, considering how quickly the coronavirus pandemic crisis unfolded across the nation.
"As long as I am president, the federal government is on your side 100%," Trump told NACo members at the conference March 4. "You will always have a very important seat at the table, and you will always find an open door at the White House."
Congress made good on President Trump's promise to local government on March 27 with the passage of a $2 trillion economic rescue plan that included a $150 billion relief fund for state and local government. President Trump's major disaster declaration for Texas also provides federal assistance for Texas counties.
While we practice social distancing to slow the spread of the virus, TAC has cancelled and postponed upcoming conferences to keep our members safe. We are continuously reviewing conference schedules to determine if more cancellations or postponements are warranted.
We have also extended the deadline to nominate your county's program or service for a County Best Practices Award to May 15, 2020. Counties have a lot on their plates now in responding to the COVID-19 pandemic. We want to give you extra time to work on your nomination so that we can acknowledge your innovative work.
As the pandemic runs its course, TAC is posting multiple resources at county.org/coronavirus for counties to use in combatting the crisis as well as daily highlights of COVID-19 news and information.
In this historic time, the employees at TAC remain dedicated to providing you unbelievable customer service. Please reach out to us at any time. We do not know for sure when it will end, but when it does, we will remain 254 strong. We are here for you, and we are all in this together.