COVID-19: Update

TxCDBG 2020 Applications Available
March 10, 2020
Sherman Police Chief Zachary Flores speaks before the Sherman City Council Monday night. The department is seeking to purchase a armored vehicle for the department using drug seizure funds. Photo copyright Herald Democrat / Michael Hutchins
Sherman Police to purchase armored vehicle
March 23, 2020

COVID-19: Update

Dear Community,

Our mission at Texoma Council of Governments has always been to improve quality of life in the region. Because of that, countless citizens rely on the services we provide to help them build better lives. We work with a large senior population, we work with low-income families, we work with community leaders to help develop the region, and we work to ensure continuous and uninterrupted access to critical emergency services like 9-1-1.

We have been closely following the development of the COVID-19 virus in the State of Texas and have been in direct contact with our State and National funding agencies in order to cooperate with directives and guidance passed down for business continuity as well as staff and client care.

CDC Guidance as of 3/15/2020. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in accordance with its guidance for large events and mass gatherings, recommends that for the next 8 weeks, organizers (whether groups or individuals) cancel or postpone in-person events that consist of 50 people or more throughout the United States. Read full recommendation.

Because we work with individuals and entities in Cooke, Fannin and Grayson counties (and beyond), we are cognizant of the regional impact from decisions we make. Out of an abundance of caution and to protect our staff, clients and community, Texoma Council of Governments has suspended all appointments and meetings for Section 8, Utility Assistance, Weatherization Assistance, and Getting Ahead until further notice. Additionally, meetings in the lobby with walk-in clients for the aforementioned programs as well as 2-1-1 and the Aging & Disability Resource Center of Texoma have also been suspended.

We will continue to provide assistance to the community by phone, email, and the US Postal Service. Due to the anticipated increase in call volume, we ask that you leave only one message and allow at least 72 hours for a call back from our staff. Multiple messages will result in a longer-than-average response time.

We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause, but rest assured this decision is made in the best interest of the community at large. As the development unfolds, we will utilize this page to provide subsequent updates. Below is a list of services and phone numbers we offer for programs impacted by this decision:

  1. Utility Assistance / Weatherization
    • Reach us by phone: (903) 893-2161, option 5
    • To request an application, leave your name, mailing address, city, state and zipcode. Applications are mailed out every Friday.
    • Apply online: www.tcog.com/energy/apply
  2. Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher Program
    • Reach us by phone: (903) 893-2161 ext. 3536
    • Need to submit verification? Please utilize drop-off box on wall by the Section 8 office door.
  3. 2-1-1 Program
    • Reach us by phone: Dial 2-1-1 or (877) 541-7905
    • Visit us online: www.211texas.org
  4. Aging & Disability Resource Center
    • Reach us by phone: (855) 937-2372
  5. Area Agency on Aging of Texoma
    • Reach us by phone: (903) 813-3505
Need help and don’t know who to call? Just grab your phone and call 2-1-1.



Recommended everyday actions to help prevent the spread of COVID-19

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick
  • Stay home when you are sick
  • Cover your cough or sneeze
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces
  • Encourage others to protect their personal health.

We hope that you stay healthy, wash your hands, and continue to monitor and follow the advice and guidance provided by the State of Texas, your county’s health department & Office of Emergency Management, and our medical community.

For additional information, visit www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-nCoV or dshs.texas.gov/coronavirus.


Update: March 17, 2020

TCOG’s executive director, Eric Bridges, has instituted an organization-wide work-from-home option for staff effectively through March 31, 2020 April 3, 2020 April 30, 2020. Although our building will remain open, our staff directly impacted by school closures and unable to obtain dependent care, as well as staff at higher-risk of serious illness from COVID-19 due to underlying health conditions as identified by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and local health authorities are eligible to work from home. We are committed to maintaining as a optimal level of productivity and performance as possible during this period.

How does this affect me?

With a reduction of on-site staff, we strongly encourage you to call before coming. Many of the services we provide can be delivered without a physical appointment/visit. Our main phone number is (903) 893-2161. A full directory with a list of extensions can be found online by visiting our Staff Directory page. Additionally, you can always send us messages through the Staff Directory page as well.


Update: March 20, 2020

Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher Program. Staff in our Section 8 program will begin operating in the office on a rotating schedule beginning Monday, March 23rd. We will have two (2) staff members in that program office each day in order to continue delivering critical rental assistance to our clients. As a reminder, all appointments and meetings have been suspended.

Utility Assistance. The Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs has advised all agencies administering the Comprehensive Energy Assistance Program (CEAP) to cancel all face-to-face appointments. We are still accepting applications by mail, online, and drop-off at each of our locations in Sherman, McKinney and Denton. Learn more by visiting our Energy Services page. All staff members have access to the necessary tools to perform their jobs and process applications remotely at this time.

Weatherization Assistance. All initial inspections and final inspections have been suspended until further notice. Due to the nature of this program, we suspended the release of work orders to our subcontractors.

9-1-1 Program. The Texas Commission on State Emergency Communications has advised our staff to refrain from traveling to our Public Safety Answering Points for site visits unless there is an essential need. 9-1-1 Services remain operational and will continue to do so. We have been in constant contact with our maintenance technicians and are continuing to monitor the situation.

Senior Corps. Currently due to school closures all 42 Foster Grandparents are at home. The Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) has granted a temporary allowance per request, for programs who are not able to function normally due to the COVID-19 pandemic. What this means is we can can continue to pay FGP participants the stipend they would normally receive temporarily through April 3rd. We are required to give updates at minimum every fourteen (14) days or as the situation change that may require an extension of allowance. The stipend payments will continue to be made biweekly as scheduled. We have notified the FGP participants that these payments are all being transitioned to ACH (direct deposit) and have provided participants with a deadline to submit the requisite information to complete this task. The Retired & Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP) has been impacted. Many senior volunteers typically deliver meals and/or work in area hospitals. Because they fall into a higher-risk category due to their age, their suspension of these activities is critical. We are developing a solution to keep these 500+ volunteers connected through outreach. Blossoms of H.O.P.E. knitting group has been suspended until further notice. Our annual Retired & Senior Volunteer Program Appreciation Banquet has been temporarily been placed on hold. Although this event isn’t scheduled until April 30, we are postponing the distribution of invitations and announcements as we monitor the COVID-19 situation.

Mental Health, Anxiety, & COVID-19. The Texoma Behavioral Health Leadership Team has published a COVID-19 page with numerous resources and tips to help manage anxiety and stress during the COVID-19 pandemic. Check out their resources.

Update: March 25, 2020

TCOG’s executive director, Eric Bridges, has extended the organization-wide work-from-home option for staff through April 3, 2020. Although our building will remain open, our staff directly impacted by school closures and unable to obtain dependent care, as well as staff at higher-risk of serious illness from COVID-19 due to underlying health conditions as identified by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and local health authorities are eligible to work from home. We are committed to maintaining as a optimal level of productivity and performance as possible during this period.


Update: March 20, 2020

TCOG’s executive director, Eric Bridges, has extended the organization-wide work-from-home option for staff through April 30, 2020.


Update: April 30, 2020

TCOG’s executive director, Eric Bridges, has extended the organization-wide work-from-home protocol for staff through close of business on Friday, May 15th. At that time we will embark on a deliberate process to assess our preparedness and readiness to cautiously and methodically pursue a path leading to the eventual restart of programs and activities that have ceased or been placed on hiatus as a result of COVID-19 precautions. Before any relaunch, we will make sure we have and can distribute appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) and other risk-reducing measures to the staff associated with those activities. We have already begun the process to secure that equipment.

We are committed to building better lives in Texoma. We are not going to rush into any situation that jeopardizes the health and safety of our staff, our clients, or our community and are building a comprehensive strategy that works for all.