Category Archives: COVID-19 Updates

Volunteer Opportunities

The following is from a communication from the office of Texas Congressman Lloyd Doggett:

So many of our neighbors have sought ways to help others as we work together to reach the other side of the COVID-19 pandemic. Being a light for others is certainly a meaningful way to get through these difficult times. Understanding the challenges facing the many with lost jobs or weakened businesses, I include below some ways you can help that do not require contributing money.

Working with so many nonprofits, myself, I know a number, which continue doing so much good, have been forced to cancel fundraising events and suffer reduced donations.  For those still fortunate enough to be able to offer financial support, I have collected some seeking your help here

Food Banks
You have seen the lines of cars waiting for help. With so much demand, more volunteers are needed.

Central Texas Food Bank
Central Texas Food Bank is seeking volunteers. Visit the website here. Volunteer shifts have been adjusted to include fewer people and maximize social distancing and have even implemented a touch-free volunteer check-in system. Additional precautionary hygiene measures are in place to maintain the health and wellness of volunteer workforce as well as those that receive our food. Learn more about their safety measures here.

Hays County Food Bank
Hays County Food Bank has opportunities for people with cars. In order to determine if you can volunteer, you must first answer a few screening questions. Learn more here

Senior Access and Drive a Senior Central Texas
Both programs seek volunteers for their Senior Buddy programs, in an effort to get essential goods and services to senior citizens who are at greater risk from the virus. Senior Access can be reached at its website here. Drive a Senior can be reached at its website here

Aspire to Age
Aspire to Age is in need of volunteers for 20-minute virtual phone check-ins with seniors. Their volunteer form can be found here. You can learn more about Aspire to Age and their services by visiting their website here.

We Are Blood
A blood donation group with ongoing donor centers.

  • The North Lamar Location is located at 4300 N. Lamar Blvd, Austin.
  • The Round Rock Location is located at 2132 N. Mays, Suite 900.
  • The South Austin Location is located at 3100 W. Slaughter Lane.

They can all be reached at (512) 206-1266.

Additionally, they are collecting convalescent plasma donations from fully recovered COVID-19 individuals. This plasma is being used to treat patients currently fighting COVID-19. If you are a fully recovered COVID-19 patient and want to be considered as a convalescent plasma donor, learn more here.

Face Shield Project
This Austin based volunteer organization is building improvised face shields by the thousands in partnership with the City of Austin, UT Dell Medical School and local companies. They provide all the tools, materials, training and a safe, physically distanced and hygienically supervised production space. Learn more about how to volunteer here.

Translators without Borders
If you are fluent in at least one language other than your native language and would like to translate medical texts or translate for crisis response, complete the Translator Application Form here.

Generation Serve 
They have put a list of kid-simple activities for volunteering at home. See more here.

  1. Make birthday cards for Pop-Up Birthday for children and teens in foster care – The cards can be simple or embellished. Write a small message inside and when you’re finished, mail them to Pop-Up Birthday at 101 Westlake Dr. Ste. 210, Austin, TX 78746.
  2. Marbridge Foundation offers safe residential care for adults with cognitive disabilities. The residents typically have very active day-to-day lives and frequent visitors, but they have had to shelter in place without visitors recently. Please write up-lifting cards, filled with jokes and pictures, and send them to the residents of Marbridge, c/o Becca McPherson, PO Box 2250, Manchaca, TX 78652. 

Nextdoor
To help one’s nearby neighbors, an app I have seen recommended is Nextdoor. It has added a feature to help people coordinate offers of help. The Help Map, lets people say where they are and whether they need or can offer help, such as picking up groceries or taking a dog for a walk for an elderly neighbor. Sign up, address verification for Nextdoor’s community security. You can learn more here.

Let me know if you see a local resource missing about which I should be aware.  Also, I continue to update my website coronavirus page website with helpful links, which you can view here.

We will get to the other side of this crisis, together.

Sincerely, 
Lloyd Doggett

Action: Top Priorities for Entertainment Workers in Subsequent COVID-19 Legislation

Letter writing campaign, contact your representatives now. Personalize your letter for better effect. The following goals are from the IATSE C.A.R.E.S. announcement.

Congress has begun to pursue additional federal legislation in response to the coronavirus pandemic. The entertainment industry will continue to be disproportionately impacted by this health crisis and we need to ensure that that subsequent COVID-19 legislation puts workers first. We must act now and urge our representatives to include the following priorities in any subsequent legislation:

· Make sure workers in all states have access to COVID-19 relief by demanding that states ramp up and improve their unemployment claim processing.

· Preserve workers’ healthcare and ensure that no-one loses their benefits by passing a 100 percent COBRA premium subsidy to keep families insured on their job-based healthcare plan and extend eligibility to 36 months.

· Extend the “CARES” Act’s unemployment insurance provisions for as long as the health crisis persists.

· Allow all nonprofits fair access to the government economic support in the Paycheck Protection Program – including labor unions, the staffs of which are providing vital assistance to members around the clock and face the same hardships that small businesses face.

· Protect the healthy pension plans and earned pension checks of entertainment workers by allowing multiemployer plans to implement policies that safeguarded pensions after the Great Recession, such as freezing zone status, smoothing investment losses, and doing no harm to healthy pension plans.

· Update the Qualified Performing Artist tax deduction, allowing creative professionals to keep more of our hard-earned money by deducting necessary business expenses from their taxes, now due in July.

· Provide direct economic support for organizations in the arts, entertainment, and media industries with appropriate workforce restoration requirements to get people back to work when it is safe to do so.

· And finally, we must protect entertainment workers still performing essential work in news media and converting facilities into temporary field hospitals by requiring the Occupational Safety and Health Administration to issue an Emergency Temporary Standard.

Start writing your letter.

COVID-19 Public Testing in Austin!

Brothers and Sisters, 

Austin Public Health has launched an online Enrollment Form for COVID-19 testing. The new public testing form will allow people to take an assessment to determine eligibility and schedule testing without a referral from a healthcare provider. The enrollment form is available at AustinTexas.gov/COVID19.  

To access the form, click on the “Take Self-Assessment” button to create an account and complete a questionnaire listing your symptoms. If you meet the criteria you will be referred to testing. Completion of the online assessment will not guarantee referral to testing. Austin Public Health will continue to prioritize healthcare workers, first responders and people at higher risk for developing severe symptoms. Testing continues to be by appointment-only and tests at the APH testing sites are FREE. At first, the enrollment form will be available in English and Spanish with additional languages coming later.

How the Online Form Works:

  • Individuals must create an account at AustinTexas.gov/COVID19.
  • The form asks several questions to determine the patient’s eligibility for a test. A person can fill out the form for someone who cannot do it themselves. This information is HIPAA-protected.
  • If an individual is approved for a test, the portal will allow them to schedule the location, date and time for their drive-through testing appointment. Patients will only be seen in a vehicle.
  • The patient will receive a confirmation via phone, email or text with a QR code and instructions for the testing site within the same day. They will need to present an ID or the confirmation at testing.
  • If the patient does not meet testing criteria, they will be able to complete the form at any time to try again (e.g. if their symptoms change the following days).
  • Results will be available online in 3-4 days.

Those Who Have Difficulty Accessing or Completing the Form:

  • Have another trusted person fill out the form.
  • Those who do not have computer or internet access can call the nursing hotline at 512-972-5560 for assistance.

Those Who Don’t Have Transportation:

  • The public testing sites are set up for drive-through only. People without access to personal transportation should contact the nursing hotline at 512-972-5560 for assistance.

Additional Resources for Testing from Community Partners:

  • CommUnityCare has additional testing resources in eastern Travis County. You can call their hotline at 512-978-8775.

Please share with others. All flyers and information to share in Spanish are attached. Thank you for your support and cooperation.  

-Austin Public Health 

Rachel Magee, 
President.

PSA, Avoid Postal and Email Scams!

The following from a USPS PSA on the subject:

Although most Americans are sheltering at home to avoid the Coronavirus, staying home won’t insulate them from being targets of scammers.

Take some time to browse the USPS’s list of common scams being seen in the wild amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

They released these two PSA videos to address the topic too.

Information about scams.
Information about Stimulus Check deliveries.

April Membership Meeting via Zoom the 27th

Brothers and Sisters,

To allow us to conduct business safely during the Covid-19 pandemic, International President Loeb has granted Local 205 permission to conduct membership meetings by video conference while social distancing mandates remain in effect.

Therefore, please join me for our first ever virtual membership meeting,
WHAT: APRIL REGULAR MEETING
WHEN: MONDAY, APRIL 27, 2020 AT 7:30 PM
WHERE: YOUR COUCH

This meeting will be conducted via Zoom. Please familiarize yourself with this platform. You may have received an invitation from Zoom to sign up for a user account. This is optional; you do not need a user account to participate in a meeting you are invited to, you can simply click the links provided to you. 

Note only a phone is required to join the meeting. Computer, zoom app and webcam etc are all optional. If you do dial into the meeting, Zoom also has two over-the-phone codes:
*6 to mute or un-mute
*9 to raise your hand.

To ensure security, you will need to register in advance for this meeting, check your email for an announce message containing the registration link. After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting. When you join the meeting, expect to be held in a virtual waiting room to be admitted, so join a few minutes before 7:30 PM. Also, the meeting will be recorded for the purpose of obtaining accurate minutes. Once the minutes of the meeting are drafted, the recording will be disposed of.

As this will be our first virtual meeting, please be patient and expect challenges. I will post a meeting agenda in due course. I intend to keep it light, but if you have a particular item of business you wish to discuss, please email Secretary Twenter or myself ASAP to have it added to the agenda.

We will not hold the election for Vice-President or nominations for Treasurer at this meeting. These items are on hold until I have received advice from International. I suspect that we will be able to hold nominations virtually with proper notice, but that elections will have to wait until we can meet in person.

In Solidarity,
Rachel Magee, 
President.


Tutorial for joining a meeting:

Tutorial for joining and configuring your audio/video sources:

Actors Fund Grant Process

As you may know, IATSE has partnered with the Actors Fund to assist members who find themselves in financial need due to being out of work during the pandemic.  This morning I spoke with a very helpful contact named Barbara Davis over at the Actors Fund who walked me through the application process and documentation requirements.

The application takes about two weeks to process. She says that they’ve also recently partnered with Netflix and have funds available for crew members who need help.

Members who are not able to make ends meet for the next month or two, are encouraged to begin the application process asap to see if you qualify for a grant. On *average*,  the grant amount is a one time issue of up to $1000. This is not an income replacement program, it is a financial grant to assist IATSE members help with meeting basic needs such as rent and utility bills.

If you’ve found that you require more assistance than you are able to receive through TWC unemployment benefits, visit the link below to get your application started with Actors Fund. The Actors Fund grant is to supplement, not replace your unemployment benefits. 

If you’re having difficulty providing the required documentation (work history up to five years, proof of up to $6500 per year earned in stagecraft, etc) contact me for help. Miss Davis said that we can provide proof of work history if you do not have access to your W2s.  Work history is archived on Call Steward or available through your employers HR departments. I am eager to assist those of you who find you need help navigating this process. Please reach out and ask. 

Visit the link below to begin the Actors Fund application process: 
https://actorsfund.org/help-our-entertainment-communiity-covid-19-emergency-relief

If you are fortunate enough to be in such a position, you can donate to this fund.

Miss Davis also mentioned the Live Nation / Crew Nation has resources available to those who work in live music concert industry so I am looking into that and will send information on the application process as it becomes available. 

In Solidarity, 
Nikki Combs
Business Agent

FREE Training Opportunities to consider during Self-Isolation

Brother Joe Martin writes, “I hope this finds everyone safe and well. During these trying times, the downtime we have recently acquired is shocking. With a lack of public places to go, Im sure a lot of us are going a little bit stir crazy. While this crisis is keeping the public at home, many companies across the industry are offering their online training programs, free of charge!

“Lets all take advantage of these services, and make good use of the downtime we have. Included below is a link that lists all the free services available to entertainment professionals during COVID-19. Free and training aren’t two words you see together often, so lets jump on it! I hope the classes offered will be to the benefit of everyone, and we can come back stronger than ever once all this madness blows over.”

Link: http://www.magnumco.com/learning/every-free-event-technology-training-class-tutorial-and-workshop-being-offered-during-covid-19-updating/

Join the IATSE 205 Mutual Aid Discord Channel!

Brother Liam Dolan-Henderson writes, “Hello, everyone! We now have a Discord! This will be more of a space for socializing and simply keeping each other company during this time of social distancing.” The invite link is in the 205 Mutual Aid FB Group. If you do not have facebook you can request an invite via .

If you are unfamiliar with how Discord works, here is a how-to guide from wiki-how: https://www.wikihow.com/Get-Started-with-Discord. Discord was created to support gaming communities initially, but has expanded vastly from there with features such as multi-channel voice calls, video calling, and screen sharing. You don’t have to use those features. At its core, Discord is a chat room.

You can simply use Discord in the browser, but there are also client apps you can install on your device.

IOS app is here:
https://apps.apple.com/us/app/discord/id985746746
Android here:
https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.discord…
Desktop versions here:
https://discordapp.com/download

Delivery available for Members In Need

From the IA:

Sisters, Brothers, Kin—

As you know, the COVID-19 virus poses a significant risk to many of our members who are older, disabled, or immunocompromised. Additionally, many of our members are caretakers of others who fall into the at-risk category, and they simply cannot risk going to the store to get what they need.

If that sounds like you, we wanted to let you know that we’ve created a system to have trusted IATSE volunteers help get you what you need, like groceries or prescriptions.

The service is free, but is available on an as-needed, as available basis for members. That means that we need to confirm one of our 2,000 volunteers is in your area. Still, our goal is to successfully respond to each member in need request within 72 hours.

If you are a member in need, please click here to learn more about the IATSE C.A.R.E.S. delivery service.

Additionally, we encourage everyone to help make members who are less internet-savvy aware of this program, and even input requests for them on the iatsecares.org website IF ASKED TO DO SO.

In solidarity,
The IATSE C.A.R.E.S. Task Force

TO VOLUNTEER, click this link: https://iatsecares.org/volunteer/

Provide payment information to the IRS to receive your stimulus faster

Want your stimulus check faster? Didn’t have a refund or direct deposit setup for the IRS in 2018? Didn’t file in some of the previous years? If you want your stimulus check faster you need to provide payment information to the IRS!! Use their new portal to enter your info, otherwise be stuck waiting for printed paper checks to be mailed.

Main Portal for tracking Stimulus:
https://www.irs.gov/coronavirus/economic-impact-payments

Groups not required to file taxes should provide payment method here:
https://www.irs.gov/coronavirus/non-filers-enter-payment-info-here