COVID-19 Information

Revisit this page for updates and additional resources.

Last Updated 5/26


Brothers, Sisters, and Kin of Local 205 are working to collect the most complete and up-to-date information available on the COVID-19 Pandemic, and resources to help manage this time. Together, we will all get through this.

Take a moment to read the Joint Letter: A Message to the Professionals in the Entertainment Industry from our allied unions, associations, and guilds. Please also follow at the Local 205 Facebook Page for additional timely updates.

Local 205 Office & Meetings

Local 205 Officers are currently working from home due to social distancing guidelines from the City of Austin.

Online Etiquette

During this time of collaborating, working, and socializing remotely, it’s more important than ever to be a good net citizen. When interacting in a way that represents your union, please follow the good practices described on the IATSE Communications Guides. And more generally, be mindful of the core concepts of Netiquette.

COVID-19 Information Portals

Free Public COVID-19 Testing in Austin

Prior to the end of April, getting tested for COVID-19 required a doctor’s referral or being extremely sick in the ER. If you have a primary care physician you can consult over the phone/online, that is still a valid way to get tested. But for those that do not, or lack insurance, Austin is now offering an online form to facilitate drive through testing too.

At the time of this edit April 28th, Austin testing still does not include anti-body style tests. There were some at clinics briefly, before the CDC implemented a more rigorous approvals requirement. Stay tuned.

IATSE and Other Resources

Voting and Elections

Voting in the upcoming national elections are more important than it has ever been. Right to vote by mail is protected for some, and at least in Texas, is being battled out in the courts as we speak for the rest of us.

  • Monday, October 5, 2020 is the last day to register to vote in Texas for the November 3rd national election.
  • First Day of in-person Early Voting is Monday, October 19, 2020
  • Vote By Mail applications must be received by Friday, October 23, 2020
  • Last Day of in-person Early Voting is Friday, October 30, 2020
  • Tuesday, November 3rd is ELECTION DAY
    • Not too long ago Texas changed the rules to allow you to vote at ANY polling location on election day.
  • Can I vote by mail? (KUT Article)
    • Mail in ballots must be postmarked by November 3, 2020 (Election Day) at 7:00 p.m. To be counted they must be received by 7pm the following day, November 4, 2020.
    • If you find yourself having procrastinated on sending a mail-in ballot, use “OVERNIGHT” carrier level service to insure it gets counted.

Dates used above are from the Texas Secretary of State office website.

Endorsements

Unemployment Benefits & Stimulus

The most pressing thing right now for our members, subscribers, and area stagehands is to apply for and start receiving the available financial benefits. These include the CARES Act Stimulus $1200 (no application required), Regular Unemployment Benefits, or Pandemic Unemployment Benefits, including the 13 week extension and federal 600$/week. Penalty free withdrawal from retirement plans is an option for some, but should be considered last.

IMPORTANT. If you have a blended income of W2s, 1099s, and/or self-employment, the online system *may* qualify you, but will only approve benefits based on your W2 income. You *may* get initially approved with a lower weekly benefit amount under regular benefits, rather than pandemic unemployment assistance (which starts at $208/week until you provide proof of income). It’s important to include your other income types and estimates when you apply, and then follow recommended steps for providing documentation at a later date. Some in our community with mixed incomes now have an active ‘regular claim’ that is paying less than 100$/week until they resolve with with TWC.

NOTE: There was a period where it seemed special Disaster Unemployment Benefits (DUA) would be applicable to this situation, especially if the other benefits were exhausted. But that appears to be unlikely now. This from the DUA page on the TWC site.

If you were affected by the COVID-19 Pandemic
The rules regarding Disaster Unemployment Assistance (DUA) do NOT always apply to those whose jobs or self-employment were affected by the COVID-19 Pandemic.

CARES Act Stimulus Checks

Returning to the workforce…

Obviously if you are returning to the workforce, or still have an essential job, you should be provided adquate PPE. If your are not, bring your own but demand it be provided.

Early guidance for the event and production industry, if you have encountered other guidance please share.

The individual’s decision to return to work amid staged re-opening is a difficult one. The governor’s office has offered this guidance to the TWC.

While the claims about “flexibility” in the TWC’s decisions is likely true, it also requires the employees or claimants make their own cases. If you or a household member are in a vulnerable population, arming yourself with things like a Doctor’s Note testifying that vulnerability is encouraged.

It seems unlikely at this time that the TWC will honor claims for people who quit or refused to return to their jobs due to “fear” alone, or even more justified concerns about inadequate protections in the workplace. If we hear otherwise we’ll update this article.

Volunteering

Donating Blood or Convalescent Plasma

We Are Blood, A blood donation group with ongoing donor centers. All donors and staff are required to wear face masks or coverings at any of their centers. Every piece of equipment is wiped down and cleaned after each donor’s use. You can learn more about their safety measures during Shelter-In-Place here

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.

Masks and PPE (yourself and others)

Groceries, Meals, and Pharmacies

Specifically we are listing resources for essential workers, seniors, high risk individuals, and low-income situations.

Wheatsville Co-Op updated their senior/high-risk hours on May 8th:
Hours of Operation
Effective Monday, May 11, 2020

SOUTH LAMAR
4001 S. LAMAR BLVD AUSTIN, TEXAS 78704
8:30 AM TO 10 PM 7 DAYS A WEEK
SENIOR AND HIGH RISK SHOPPING HOUR 7:30- 830 AM
DELI: 7:30AM TO 7 PM

GUADALUPE
3101 GUADALUPE ST AUSTIN, TEXAS 78705
8:30 AM TO 9 PM 7 DAYS A WEEK
SENIOR AND HIGH RISK SHOPPING HOUR 7:30- 830 AM
DELI: 7:30AM TO 3 PM

Financial Aid

2019 Tax Filing (and prior)

Deadline to submit tax payments for individual returns to IRS has been extended from April 15, 2020 to July 15, 2020. Taxpayers do not need to file any additional documents for this extension, as the IRS has automatically applied the extension to all taxpayers. Please visit the IRS’ website for more information.

  • Austin Foundation Communities Prosper Centers are partnering with GetMyRefund.org to offer tax filing help for 2018 or 2019 taxes.

Housing, Rent, Mortgage Assistance

Need help paying your rent or utilities? Local programs are providing temporary, emergency financial assistance in the form of grants or loans for utilities and rental expenses.

Renters seeking financial assistance may visit COA’s Housing Resource page. The Austin Tenants Council offers counseling and educational services. Call 512-474-7006 to learn more.

Renters in Austin may qualify for rental assistance money in the lottery program that is accepting applicants May 4th-6th, apply at atxrenthelp.org.

Homeowners who need help with mortgage assistance and property taxes, visit COA’s Avoiding Forclosure page. The Hope Preservation Foundation has a 24/7 HOPE hotline to provide personalized advice from housing counseling agencies. Call 888-995-HOPE (4673).

For utility bill relief information, visit Austin Energy’s bill relief page.

This information and more can also be found at AustinTexas.gov/COVID19.

Eviction Defense Resources

Domestic Violence

Sheltering in place is a worst-case scenario for victims of domestic violence. If you or anyone you know is being abused, call the national domestic violence hotline: 1-800-799-SAFE (7233).

Mental Health

Health Insurance – Getting/Continuing Coverage

Remember, inpatient or ICU treatment for COVID-19 would be financially disastrous without coverage.

Cobra Coverage Option

Typically the MOST expensive approach. If you recently lost healthcare coverage, one option available is to extend your coverage using COBRA, this effectively continues whatever coverage you had previously for up to 18 months paying monthly, and you normally activate it retroactively up to 60 days after losing your original plan (COVID-19 has caused some additional deadline extensions). If you did not get a COBRA election notice from your provider contact them!

IATSE National Benefits Fund (NBF) Plans

Due to state and federal guidelines regarding the COVID-19 crisis, the Fund Office is following such guidelines and is currently closed. During the COVID-19 crisis, communicating with the Fund Office via the website or through email will temporarily be the only way that we can respond to you until such time that we reopen.  Please check our the NBF website, for updates.

The IATSE NBF has continued coverage for 2nd Q participants of Plan C that were slated to lose that coverage. Read their statement waiving out of pocket costs for 2nd Q and some of 3rd Q, or visit their COVID-19 News.

Marketplace Plans

If you have healthcare through the marketplace, a member has shared an important tip. You should update your income data, this may result in a reduced cost or NO COST, FREE COVERAGE.

Marketplace open enrollment was Nov 1st – Dec. 18th, but pay attention to the rules and windows for joining the marketplace for healthcare. “Life Changes” such as losing coverage, are often qualifying events for special enrollment periods. Additionally many states added an enrollment period for COVID-19 response (Not Texas yet).

Other Healthcare Resources

Austin’s HAAM (Health Alliance for Austin Musicians) has expanded their range of services during COVID-19. Working musicians, teachers, DJs and many affiliated roles all qualify for HAAM, see their documentation requirements.

Other Covid-19 Updates...

  • Gov Abbot Announces Phase 2 Texas enters Phase-2 Re-opening, for better or worse. (5/19/2020) - Yesterday, on May 18th Gov. Abbott issued the Executive Order moving Texas into Phase 2 of the staggered re-opening. Phase 1 re-opening had occurred almost precisely 3 weeks prior. The primary arguments used in favor of doing so revolve around restoring jobs, hospitalization rates remaining somewhat steady, and percentage positive confirmed tests. They provided state-wide… ...CONTINUE READING
  • Deadlines, Claims, and COBRA from the IATSE-NBF (5/15/2020) - The following is from an email notice via the IATSE National Benefits Fund Office. Important Information Regarding Extensions of Deadlines Related to Benefit Claims and Appeals, Special Enrollment and COBRA Due to the various challenges that individuals are facing as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the U.S Department of Labor (DOL) and Internal Revenue… ...CONTINUE READING
  • Austin Rental Assistance, Apply May 4th-6th (5/1/2020) - Neighborhood Housing Department Issues $1.2M in Rental Assistance to Be Administered by Austin Housing AuthorityFri, 05/01/2020 - 09:56 Applicants must apply 9:00 a.m. May 4th through 11:59 p.m. May 6th The City of Austin Neighborhood Housing and Community Development Department (NHCD) is providing $1.2 million in emergency rental assistance to Austinites affected by the COVID-19 outbreak to… ...CONTINUE READING
  • Volunteer Opportunities (5/1/2020) - 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… ...CONTINUE READING
  • 2020 Census (4/30/2020) - Good afternoon,  If you’ve not yet filled out your 2020 CENSUS please do so today! You can find the census at by following this link: https://2020census.gov In Solidarity,  Nikki CombsBusiness Agent  ...CONTINUE READING
  • Action: Top Priorities for Entertainment Workers in Subsequent COVID-19 Legislation (4/29/2020) - 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… ...CONTINUE READING
  • COVID-19 Public Testing in Austin! (4/28/2020) - 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… ...CONTINUE READING
  • PSA, Avoid Postal and Email Scams! (4/25/2020) - 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. COVID-19 Relief Stimulus ScamsIndividuals and businesses selling… ...CONTINUE READING
  • April Membership Meeting via Zoom the 27th (4/23/2020) - 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 MEETINGWHEN: MONDAY, APRIL 27, 2020 AT 7:30 PMWHERE:… ...CONTINUE READING
  • Actors Fund Grant Process (4/21/2020) - 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… ...CONTINUE READING
  • FREE Training Opportunities to consider during Self-Isolation (4/17/2020) - 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… ...CONTINUE READING
  • Join the IATSE 205 Mutual Aid Discord Channel! (4/17/2020) - 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… ...CONTINUE READING
  • Delivery available for Members In Need (4/17/2020) - 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… ...CONTINUE READING
  • Provide payment information to the IRS to receive your stimulus faster (4/14/2020) - 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… ...CONTINUE READING
  • Health Insurance and Healthcare Links (4/14/2020) - IATSE-NBF has waived out of pocket costs to keep participants covered for 2nd Q and 3rd Q 2020 in Plan C (read linked PDF file for more details)https://www.iatsenbf.org/assets/IMPROVEMENTS-TO-HEALTH-ELIGIBILITY-COVID-003.pdf IATSE NBF Statement about COVID-19 Response in a PDF filehttps://www.iatsenbf.org/assets/Uploads/2020Docs/IATSE-COVID19-EBCBS-.pdf IATSE NBF ‘in-network’ Tele-Health Provider ‘LiveHealth Online’ Sitehttps://livehealthonline.com/ Health Alliance for Austin Musicians has expanded its range… ...CONTINUE READING
  • Texas Workforce Commission CARES Act Flowchart (4/14/2020) - This is a flow chart published by the Texas Workforce Commission to help navigate what types of benefits you should be applying for and receiving. Some new information from the TWC...1. Call in windows are implemented to attempt to relieve strain on the phone system:https://www.twc.texas.gov/twc-implement-staggered-access-unemployment-benefit-services-portal-ensure-more-texans-can-file-ui-claims 2. Some new information is posted regarding "non-traditional" applicants. It's… ...CONTINUE READING
  • Changes made by the CARES Act for the IATSE Annuity Fund (4/14/2020) - The CARES Act has clarified the hardship provisions for hardship withdrawals from The I.A.T.S.E. Annuity Fund as well as the tax relief provisions.  Please click here for a full description of the Act in PDF format.  ...CONTINUE READING
  • Announce: Shelter-in-place extended to May 8 (4/13/2020) - The following was sent to the membership via the announce mechanism on April 13th 2020 via the office of the president: Brothers and Sisters, The City of Austin and Travis County have extended the shelter-in-place order until May 8. The new ordinance also calls on residents to wear facial coverings when out in public. <https://www.statesman.com/news/20200413/coronavirus-in-austin-facial-coverings-required-in-new-stay-at-home-orders?nocache=1&utm_source=SFMC&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Austin%20American-Statesman%20austin-breaking-news%202020-04-1322:25:27&utm_content=GCOX_AUS&utm_term=041320>… ...CONTINUE READING
  • Announce: Secretary Treasurer (4/9/2020) - The following was sent to the membership via the announce mechanism April 9th 2020 from the office of the recording secretary: Dear 205 family, Brother Michael Danburg has resigned as Secretary-Treasurer. Unfortunately, the Covid-19 pandemic has prompted the need for Brother Danburg to travel a different path from the one he originally planned. Although the… ...CONTINUE READING
  • Announce: Message from IATSE Political Department (3/31/2020) - The following was sent to members via the announce mechanism on Mar. 31st 2020 via the office of the president: Dear Members, The following is a communication from our union’s Political Department: In this challenging time, the IATSE Political Department is pleased to highlight this press release regarding the successful passage of the Coronavirus Aid,… ...CONTINUE READING
  • Announce: March Membership Meeting / VP Election (3/27/2020) - The following was sent to the membership via the announce mechanism on Mar. 27th 2020 via the office of the recording secretary: Dear 205 Family, I hope this message finds you well. Earlier this week, Mayor Adler signed a Stay Home - Work Safe Order <https://www.austintexas.gov/sites/default/files/2020-03/Order%2020200324-007%20-%20Stay%20Home%20-%20Work%20Safe%20%28OCR%20v2%29.pdf> to prevent the spread of Covid-19. Because of this… ...CONTINUE READING
  • Announce: Keep in touch, share resources and don’t forget to file… (3/25/2020) - The following was sent to the membership via the announce mechanism on Mar. 25th 2020 from the office of the president: Brothers and Sisters. During the City of Austin’s mandatory shelter in place order <http://www.mayoradler.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/Order-20200324-007-Stay-Home-Work-Safe.pdf>, please do the following 4 things, Join IATSE Local 205’s Mutual Aid FaceBook Group <https://www.facebook.com/groups/3791903320850075/blocked/> to converse with members and… ...CONTINUE READING
  • Announce: City Council Resolution Re. Event Cancellations (3/24/2020) - The following was sent to the membership via the announce mechanism on Mar. 24th via the office of the president: Brothers and Sisters, The City of Austin meeting agenda for Wednesday, March 25 includes item 55, a resolution to assist those impacted by COVID-19 related cancellations <http://assets.austintexas.gov/austincouncilforum/81-20200319101401.pdf> of major events, including SXSW: 55. Approve a… ...CONTINUE READING
  • Announce: COVID-19: Sharing Our Story (3/23/2020) - The following was sent to the membership via the announce mechanism on Mar. 23rd 2020 via the office of the president: Brothers and Sisters, Sharing our story can help us leverage support and resources during these trying times. The collective effort to get Congress to recognize our plight is showing signs of success. So far,… ...CONTINUE READING
  • Announce: SA Employee COVID-19 Test Result is Negative (3/23/2020) - The following was shared with the membership via the announce mechanism on Mar. 23rd via the office of the president: Brothers and Sisters, Stage Alliance has just released the following statement: Attention all SA employees, The results of the test for the Stage Alliance employee who worked on Aladdin has come back NEGITIVE for Covid… ...CONTINUE READING
  • Announce: COVID-19: Resources for surviving closures and cancellations (3/13/2020) - The following was sent to members via the announce mechanism on Mar. 13th 2020 from the office of the president: Dear Brothers and Sisters, This has been an unprecedented week and painful week for all of us. Unfortunately, it seems there are more event cancelations and venue closures to come. The financial impact is daunting.… ...CONTINUE READING
  • Announce: COVID-19 IATSE Update (3/11/2020) - The following was forwarded to the membership from the International via the announce mechanism on Mar. 11th 2020: > Sisters, Brothers, Kin— > > With regards to the COVID-19 virus, the safety and well-being of our members and their families is our number one priority. > > The International’s Disaster Response Committee is closely following… ...CONTINUE READING
  • Announce: SXSW Cancellation News: Press Conference & Fundraisers (3/9/2020) - The following was sent to the membership via the announce mechanism on Mar. 9th 2020 from the office of the president: Brothers and Sisters, Tomorrow, Tuesday 10 March at 10AM the Texas AFL-CIO is holding a press conference at their offices to highlight the voice of labor following the cancellation of this year’s SXSW. If… ...CONTINUE READING
  • Announce: SXSW Cancellations, Freeman 3/8-3/21 (3/6/2020) - The following was sent to the membership via the announce mechanism on Mar. 6th 2020 from the office of the Business Agent: Brothers and Sisters, I am disheartened to report that SXSW was officially canceled today by the City of Austin. All scheduled labor for TOMORROW Saturday 3/7 will remain as scheduled. I repeat if… ...CONTINUE READING
  • Announce: Support Working People During COVID-19! (3/1/2020) - The following was sent to the membership via the announce mechanism on Mar 31st 2020 from the office of the president: Brothers and Sisters, Please tune in to this Important message from TX AFL-CIO <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v7MUzCsWov8&feature=youtu.be> and afterwards, please visit the TX AFL-CIO website <https://www.texasaflcio.org/> Thank you! Rachel Magee, President. ...CONTINUE READING
  • Announce: Coronavirus Update (2/29/2020) - The following was sent to the membership via the announce mechanism on Feb. 28th 2020, forwarded from IATSE International. > Sisters, Brothers, Kin— > > As news coverage of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) continues, we want to update you with guidance and reassurance. > > While there is a potential public health threat posed by… ...CONTINUE READING