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COVID-19 Public Policy Update: May 20, 2020

In response to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), the Greater Houston Partnership is providing a weekly update on public policies and other newsworthy items from local, state and national levels of government.

Executive Summary 
All levels of government continue to respond to the economic impacts of COVID-19. At the federal level, work continues on a Phase 4 coronavirus stimulus package. At the state level, Governor Greg Abbott, announced the next phase of reopening Texas on Monday, allowing for the opening of several sectors including childcare, recreational activities, and personal services. At the local level, Harris County Commissioners Court approved the creation of a $30 million COVID-19 Relief Program to aid impacted Harris County residents with basic needs. 

Phase 4 Coronavirus Stimulus Package 

Last week, the U.S. House approved a $3 trillion COVID-19 stimulus package. The package was approved by a vote of 208-199, largely on party lines. 

  • The measures were not a product of bipartisan negotiations and were drafted by the House Democrats. 
  • The package includes funding for state and local governments, testing, and additional direct payments to Americans. 
  • Senate Republicans have stated the bill is “dead on arrival” in the Senate. 


World Health Organization (WHO) Funding 

President Trump has threatened to permanently stop all U.S. funding to the WHO and to “reconsider” U.S. membership in the U.N. organization if it does not commit to substantive improvements in the next month. 

  • The U.S. is the largest donor to the WHO. 
  • President Trump previously put a temporary freeze on the U.S. funding to the WHO. 



Governor Abbott announced the next phase of reopening Texas on Monday and issued Executive Order GA-23, effective through June 3, 2020. The executive order allows for the opening of several sectors including childcare, recreational activities, and personal services. The announcement follows the phased approach to reopening businesses across Texas outlined in the Governor’s  Report to Open Texas, which was initially released on April 27. Learn more here


On Tuesday, Harris County Commissioners Court approved a $30 million agreement with the Greater Houston Community Foundation to administer the Harris County COVID-19 Relief Fund program, which will offer short-term, non-cash, in-kind emergency disaster relief for qualifying applicants’ basic needs such as rent, mortgages, utilities, food, medical, childcare, transportation, and other expenses. 

  • Applicants cannot receive assistance from the City's program for a similar purpose. 
  • Aims to assist 20,000-25,000 households.

Visit the Partnership's COVID-19 Resource page for updates, guidance for employers and more information. And sign up for daily email alerts from the Partnership as the situation develops.