Governor Abbott establishes statewide face covering requirement, issues proclamation to limit gatherings

AUSTIN – Governor Greg Abbott today issued an Executive Order requiring all Texans to wear a face covering over the nose and mouth in public spaces in counties with 20 or more positive COVID-19 cases, with few exceptions. The governor also issued a proclamation giving mayors and county judges the ability to impose restrictions on some outdoor gatherings of over 10 people, and making it mandatory that, with certain exceptions, people cannot be in groups larger than ten and must maintain six feet of social distancing from others.

“Wearing a face covering in public is proven to be one of the most effective ways we have to slow the spread of COVID-19,” said Governor Abbott. “We have the ability to keep businesses open and move our economy forward so that Texans can continue to earn a paycheck, but it requires each of us to do our part to protect one another — and that means wearing a face covering in public spaces. Likewise, large gatherings are a clear contributor to the rise in COVID-19 cases. Restricting the size of groups gatherings will strengthen Texas’ ability to corral this virus and keep Texans safe. We all have a responsibility to slow the spread of COVID-19 and keep our communities safe. If Texans commit to wearing face coverings in public spaces and follow the best health and safety practices, we can both slow the spread of COVID-19 and keep Texas open for business. I urge all Texans to wear a face covering in public, not just for their own health, but for the health of their families, friends and for all our fellow Texans.”

Additionally, the governor released a new video message to coincide with his Executive Order, encouraging Texans to do their part to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 and keep their communities safe. The video can be downloaded at this link and can also be viewed on YouTube.

View the Governor’s Executive Order.

View the Governor’s Proclamation.

For questions about the Fort Worth response to COVID-19 and the current guidelines: call 817-392-8478 or email COVID19@fortworthtexas.gov.

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Water saving seminars resume online

In partnership with Texas AgriLife Water University, the city’s Water Saving Seminar series is moving online for the rest of 2020.

These monthly seminars inspire residents to explore water-friendly practices in the landscape, lawn and garden. Water conservation staff will answer questions about the city’s irrigation requirements and programs.

Canceled classes originally scheduled for July have been rescheduled. Monthly class schedule resumes in August. View class dates, seminar descriptions and registration information.

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Progress update: Race and Culture recommendations

Fort Worth continues to make progress on implementing recommendations from the Task Force on Race and Culture.

In December 2018, the City Council approved 22 Race and Culture Task Force recommendations in key areas of criminal justice, economic development, education, governance, health, housing and transportation.

Progress highlights:

Criminal Justice: Civilian oversight of Police Department
The new Police Oversight Monitor-Director of the Office of the Police Oversight Monitor Kim Neal and Assistant Police Oversight Monitor Denise Rodriguez joined the city in March. Since then, the office has conducted initial meetings with multiple community organizations, city leaders and FWPD personnel.

The office created a complaint form and has begun receiving and reviewing complaints, inquiries, commendations, use of force incidents, FWPD policies and procedures including, but not limited to, use of force.

All members of the staff are Criminal Justice Information Services certified and continue to participate in external training opportunities. Office personnel have also received training on the Texas Public Information Act as well as met with the City Attorney’s Office.

Criminal Justice: Police cadet program
The Fort Worth Police Department completed all tasks related to the advertising, interviewing and hiring 20 new cadets.

Criminal Justice: Police Department diversity
Members of the Fort Worth Police Department Training Division met with colleagues in the Fire Department to share ideas on recruiting. A FWFD representative provided information on a targeted social media campaign and “text this number” campaign that allowed them to increase their diversity pool with great success. These ideas were added to recruitment plans for future implementation.

Economic Development: Job training, transportation to jobs, background issues and hiring process
The city partnered with Workforce Solutions to enhance job fairs and training opportunities and is currently working with Workforce Solutions to identify occupations with labor shortages. Municipal Courts expanded its Safe Harbor Initiative warrant forgiveness program and declared February 2020 Warrant Forgiveness Month. Individuals who voluntarily appeared at a court location in February to act on their cases were eligible for community service or a reduction in the fine amount based on their ability to pay. Municipal Court also continued its Court in the Community initiative to bring the mobile court to sites across the city in February. The city is also working with all chambers of commerce on a memorandum of understanding about various employment-related issues, including transportation to work.

Economic Development: Education incentives to achieve wage parity
In partnership with United Way of Tarrant County and the Fort Worth Chamber of Commerce (which has employed staff to provide oversight and technical assistance to FWISD and community GO Centers), Fort Worth ISD currently has 42 active GO Centers operating around Fort Worth. GO Centers are designed to help students see pathways to careers and college. They are physical spaces in schools, libraries, workforce centers and church-affiliated spaces equipped with computers and overseen by school staff. Tarrant County College also hosts a mobile GO Center. Students visit the GO Centers and research career opportunities, college options and financial aid. Students are assisted by mentors from higher education institutions and from the community.

Economic Development: Capacity-building of minority-owned businesses
The Business Equity Division, formerly the Office of Business Diversity, transitioned from the Economic Development Department to the new Department of Diversity and Inclusion, expanding its responsibilities for capacity-building of minority-owned businesses in the process.

The Business Equity Division completed the city’s 2020 Business Equity Disparity Study in June with consultant Colette Holt Advisors. Along with partner organizations, the division completed 77 outreach events for minority businesses to date, and partnered with Beck Construction to launch Beck School of Construction for new or emerging local minority businesses.

Education: Early childhood intervention via quality child care
The city partnered with the Early Learning Alliance to embark on a 10-year movement working to ensure that all children have the foundation they need to succeed in school and in life:

  • Increased Texas Rising Star quality child care by 131%.
  • On-boarded 3,000+ child care professionals on registry.
  • Completed 3,000+ infants and toddler screenings through Ages & Stages Questionnaire.

Education: Service learning and civic engagement
The Rising Stars Leadership Academy has expanded from a 10-week summer program to a year-round experience for youth ages 13-18. Before COVID-19, the goal was to enroll 20 youth in the first year-round class by March 1, 2020. Youth will be selected from economically-challenged communities to participate in the Rising Stars Leadership Academy, which will be held at Martin Luther King Community Center in conjunction with the EnVision Center. The FW@ 6 program sites participated in two service-learning projects — working at the North Texas Area Food Bank, and collecting toys for Cook Children’s Medical Center.

Education: College and career centers
Fort Worth ISD currently has 42 active GO Centers operating around Fort Worth. GO Centers are designed to help students see pathways to careers and college. They are physical spaces in schools, libraries, workforce centers and church-affiliated spaces equipped with computers and managed by school staff. Tarrant County College also hosts a mobile GO Center. Students visit the GO Centers and research career opportunities, college options and financial aid. Students are assisted by mentors from higher education institutions and from the community.

Governance: Redistricting
The 2016 Charter Amendment increased the number of City Councilmembers from 8 plus 1 to 10 plus 1, effective with redistricting after the 2020 Census for the 2023 municipal election.

Governance: Diversity and Inclusion Department
The activities identified related to the creation of the Department of Diversity and Inclusion have all been completed. The Municipal Equity Division has 1.5 staff members, the Business Equity Division has six staff members, and the Civil Rights Enforcement Division has 10 full-time and three part-time staff members and an assistant department director. The new diversity and inclusion director/chief equity officer began work in December 2019 and developed new mission, objectives and measures for the new department. The Business Equity Division, formerly reporting to the Economic Development Department, now reports to the Diversity and Inclusion Department. All divisions are co-located at Hazel Harvey Peace Center for Neighborhoods using a shared-space model to reduce utility costs.

Governance: Diversity training
The Department of Diversity and Inclusion (formerly Human Relations Unit) and the former Performance and Budget Department completed Values Summits on Diversity and Mutual Respect for supervisors in October 2019. The department implemented specialized department inclusion, diversity, equity and access workshops. The city has Diversity and Inclusion educational workshops available online through Employee University.

Health: Health education and outreach
Fort Worth’s overall 2018 Well-Being Index score rose to 62.5, a gain of nearly four points since 2014. Gallup Sharecare Well-Being Index has not released new reports for 2019 or 2020 to date.

Health: Active lifestyles
The city opened Hillside Community Center fitness center in February 2020. The city has finalized Silver Sneakers and Active Renew agreements and implemented new programs to increase older adult use of fitness classes and facilities through existing health care providers at community centers.

In order to encourage active lifestyles in neighborhoods, the city began installing 6,800 feet of sidewalk improvement and 1,000 streetlights using existing bond and PayGo funds. To date, the city has 7,230 linear feet of sidewalks planned in NPAs, and 1,200 linear feet or 20% completed. The city has also focused efforts on streetlight maintenance to encourage walkability in neighborhoods. To date, 860 lights have been improved and converted to LED in NPAs since Jan. 1, 2020 (86%). The city’s Active Transportation Plan (ATP) was adopted by council April 2019 and is currently used as a guide to prioritize sidewalk gap implementation and 2022 Bond project identification.

Health: Healthy foods
With the approval of the Farmer’s Market Ordinance by City Council, the city approved residential food carts that can sell packaged fresh fruit cups in Fort Worth neighborhoods. This was accomplished through a standing partnership with Blue Zones, a local food cart operator (Gabriel Velazquez) and the Code Compliance Department. To ensure access to healthy foods in neighborhoods designated healthy food deserts, the amendment reduces and or eliminates permit fees, updates and eases requirements for new pop-up farmers markets in the city.

Health: Access to providers
The city identified funds to establish the Near Southside Medical District ZIPZONE. The Trinity Metro ZIPZONE program is the agency’s “first mile/last mile” solution for users of public transportation. Riders can travel their “first mile” and their “last mile” from the nearest bus stop via on-demand rideshare service. The city paid its first installment invoice to Trinity Metro of the total cost of $250,000 for Near Southside.

Housing: Affordable housing incentives policy
The city’s Five-Year Consolidated Plan marks the city as achieving 43% of its goal to promote affordable housing for renters and owners through four funding streams — Community Development Block Grants, HOME Investment Partnerships, Emergency Solutions Grants and Housing Opportunities for Persons with AIDS.

While some policy, procedure and plan development tasks for affordable housing goals are currently on hold due to extensive staff time dedicated to COVID-19 pandemic-related issues, the city responded with the creation of emergency rental assistance program through new CARES Act funding.

Housing: Homebuyer assistance
The city’s Homebuyer Assistance Program provides up to $20,000 in mortgage assistance for income-eligible, first-time homebuyers within Fort Worth city limits. To date, the program reported 80% minority participation. Currently, the policy, procedure and plan development tasks for housing goals are currently on hold due to extensive staff time dedicated to COVID-19 pandemic-related issues.

Housing: Resident awareness of housing resources
The city has completed a brochure summarizing information on all city housing programs. This information will also be used on the new city website. The workshops and public meetings originally scheduled for 2020 have been postponed because of COVID-19. Staff is continuing to work on the new presentation and will roll it out when public meetings resume.

Transportation: Equity policy and five-year action plan
The Transportation and Public Works (TPW) Department will be the pilot department for the process establishing the City Equity Plan for Municipal Service Delivery. The city is finalizing a consultant contract in June 2020, to partner with Diversity and Inclusion, and Planning and Data Analytics, to create the framework that will include the City Transportation Equity Policy and Five-Year-Plan with public input.

Transportation: Funding criteria
The city has actively incorporated equity as a criteria for project evaluation in the preparation of the transportation projects considered in the 2022 Bond Program.

Transportation: After-action reviews of pedestrian and bicycle crashes
TPW collected and monitored bicycle and pedestrian crash data, observing a reduction in crashes and fatalities for both bicyclists and pedestrians between 2018 and 2019. TPW prepared a biannual report documenting trends and comparisons among peer cities.

To learn more about progress on all 22 improvement efforts, contact Chief Equity Officer and Director of the Diversity and Inclusion Department Christina Brooks by email or at 817-392-8988.

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Fort Worth Public Library to expand curbside service locations on June 30

On Tuesday, June 30, seven additional Fort Worth Public Library locations will begin offering curbside service 10:30 a.m.-6:30 p.m. Tuesday-Friday, and noon-5 p.m. Saturday.

New curbside service will be available at the Central Library, East Berry, Meadowbrook (formerly eSkills), Northside, Riverside, Ella Mae Shamblee and Wedgwood locations. Learn how curbside service works.

Seven other locations are already reopened to offer curbside service and also limited walk-in service during the times listed above. They are Diamond Hill/Jarvis, East Regional, Northwest, Ridglea, Seminary South, Southwest Regional and Summerglen.

See times and location addresses. Learn more about the services the Library is currently offering.

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Governor limits certain businesses and services with direct link to COVID-19 infections

Gov. Greg Abbott issued an executive order limiting certain businesses and services as part of the state’s efforts to contain the spread of COVID-19.

This decision comes as the number of people testing positive for COVID-19 and the number of hospitalizations have increased and the positivity rate in Texas increased above 10%, which Abbott previously said would lead to further preventative action. The directives in the executive order are based on links between certain types of businesses and services and the recent rise in positive cases throughout the state.

The order includes:

  • All bars and similar establishments that receive more than 51% of their gross receipts from the sale of alcoholic beverages are required to close at noon June 26. These businesses may remain open for delivery and take-out, including for alcoholic beverages, as authorized by the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission.
  • Restaurants may remain open for dine-in service, but at a capacity not to exceed 50% of total listed indoor occupancy, beginning June 29.
  • Rafting and tubing businesses must close.
  • Outdoor gatherings of 100 or more people must be approved by local governments, with certain exceptions.

“As I said from the start, if the positivity rate rose above 10%, the State of Texas would take further action to mitigate the spread of COVID-19,” Abbott said. “At this time, it is clear that the rise in cases is largely driven by certain types of activities, including Texans congregating in bars. The actions in this executive order are essential to our mission to swiftly contain this virus and enhance public health.

“We want this to be as limited in duration as possible. However, we can only slow the spread if everyone in Texas does their part,” Abbott said. “Every Texan has a responsibility to themselves and their loved ones to wear a mask, wash their hands, stay six feet apart from others in public, and stay home if they can.”

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City Council proclaims June 26 Sister Cities Day in Fort Worth

It’s Sister Cities Day in Fort Worth.

The City Council declared the honor as part of the organization’s 35th anniversary.

Established 35 years ago, Fort Worth Sister Cities has brought international attention to Fort Worth through its nine sister city relationships in China, Eswatini, France, Germany, Hungary, Indonesia, Italy, Japan and Mexico in an effort to create respect of and better understanding between cultures.

With a major focus on youth programming, Sister Cities serves a diverse group of students creating culturally-competent youth who are prepared for the challenges of a global community. These programs help decrease violence, racism and stereotypes in Fort Worth and abroad. They focus on international understanding and leadership training and can change the trajectory of a student’s life.

As the 13th-largest city in the United States, and one of the fastest-growing, Fort Worth must expand its global perspective to sustain success. Forming international relationships, fostering new business connections and promoting tourism and cultural understanding are vital to seizing opportunities and overcoming challenges in this global era.

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Face coverings required onboard all Trinity Metro vehicles

To align with city and county directives requiring face coverings in all businesses, Trinity Metro requires all employees and customers to wear facemasks, covering their nose and mouth, to help prevent the spread of COVID-19, beginning at 6 p.m. Friday, June 26.

Trinity Metro customers in need of facemasks should see the customer care representatives at the ticket sales kiosk at Fort Worth Central Station. Staff will also be available throughout the system for those in need of facemasks.

All Trinity Metro customers must comply by wearing facemasks when traveling onboard vehicles including fixed route buses, Trinity Metro TEXRail, Trinity Metro ACCESS, Trinity Metro ZIPZONE and while on Trinity Metro property. Failure to comply with this policy by Trinity Metro customers will lead to refusal of services and/or communication with security or law enforcement officers.

A face covering is not required if covering the nose and mouth poses a significant mental or physical health risk to the individual.

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Free tax filing help now available curbside

The Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program, known as VITA, will offer free curbside service at three locations June 29-July 15 for Fort Worth residents who need help preparing their tax returns.

Curbside VITA to Go! is for taxpayers who make less than $58,000 per year and need to file or amend returns for 2019, 2018, 2017 and 2016.

Taxpayers must call 817-392-5698 for a drop-off appointment at one of these locations:

  • Mansfield Mission Center, 777 N. Walnut Creek Drive, Mansfield.
  • Community Enrichment Center, 6250 N.E. Loop 820, North Richland Hills.
  • Opening Doors for Women in Need, 3600 Horne St., Fort Worth.

Taxpayers must remain in their vehicles. Staff will copy documents, return the originals and contact taxpayers by phone when returns are ready to pick up later the same day.

The federal government has extended the IRS tax filing deadline to July 15 because of COVID-19.

VITA is an IRS-supported, free income tax preparation program for low- to moderate-income individuals and families.

View more information in English and Spanish or visit the VITA webpage.

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Learn how Google tools can enhance a job search

Join Google and the Fort Worth Public Library to learn how to discover new job opportunities using Google Search and organize a job search experience using G Suite tools.

The webinar will be at 11 a.m. July 22. Register online.

In this one-hour workshop, participants will learn new strategies to improve a resume, tips to help communicate effectively online, hone virtual interview skills and find other resources to aid in a job search.

To learn more, email Jana Hill.

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School and business leaders to discuss Fort Worth’s future at June 25 virtual summit

Fort Worth ISD Superintendent Kent P. Scribner, Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price and TCC Chancellor Eugene Giovannini will join business and industry leaders at the June 25 virtual summit, “Fort Worth: Where the Best Begins.”

The summit is part of a partnership between the Fort Worth ISD, Tarrant County College and the Fort Worth Chamber of Commerce to better understand how education and industry can work together to meet the workforce needs in a post-COVID 19 world.

Scribner, Price and Giovannini will be panel headliners at the summit. Joining them will be:

  • Fort Worth Metropolitan Black Chamber of Commerce President and CEO DeVoyd Jennings.
  • Lockheed Martin Director for HR Economic Opportunities & Resources Jon Gustafson.
  • Medical City Fort Worth Chief Medical Officer Dr. Terry Loftus.
  • Fort Worth Chamber of Commerce CEO Brandom Gengelbach.
  • Dig Contracting Owner Dante Williams.
  • Cisneros Restaurants Inc. President Vicki Cisneros.
  • Fort Worth Hispanic Chamber of Commerce President/CEO Anette Landeros.
  • Bell Director of Workforce Planning and Strategy Cara Lundquist.

This citywide summit comes on the heels of eight industry-focused virtual discussions – or mini-summits – held June 2-4 that became the foundation for this culminating event. The individual sessions focused on aviation and aerospace; transportation, both distribution and logistics; hospitality and culinary; IT and cybersecurity business; small businesses: the construction industry: general business; and health care.

Organizers from the FWISD, TCC and the Chamber listened as business leaders shared stories of how this pandemic has impacted their businesses. As participants listened to each other, it became evident that now is the time to strengthen existing partnerships and create new ones to ensure a successful future for Fort Worth.

“We did our homework, and we will incorporate the ideas and feedback from industry leaders,” Scribner said. “We are eager to continue this conversation toward developing a dynamic and prepared Fort Worth workforce that is homegrown.”

The “Fort Worth: Where the Best Begins” virtual summit will take place at 1:30 p.m. June 25. Register online. The summit can be viewed on the FWISD’s YouTube channel and Spectrum Channel 192.

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