By NICHOLAS SAKELARIS | CoServ
Most North Texas residents are now or soon will be under orders to stay at home to slow the spread of COVID-19. This includes most of CoServ’s service territory. Check back here often to see the latest news regarding the virus and how it could affect you. In addition to providing you with reliable information, CoServ is committed to providing an uninterrupted flow of electricity and natural gas during this outbreak. For more North Texas resources and updates on CoServ’s COVID-19 response, please visit CoServ.com/COVID19.
UPDATED AT 4 P.M. ON 03/30:
State and federal agencies have assembled a wealth of resources for those affected by the COVID-19 outbreak. The unprecedented shelter-in-place orders have disrupted businesses, caused thousands of layoffs and furloughs while also damaging livelihoods and the overall U.S. economy. Here’s a roundup of websites that could help.
The U.S. Small business Association has assembled a list of resources to help businesses get through the unprecedented COVID-19 outbreak. The website helps businesses apply for an Economic Injury Disaster Loan, including a guide and a phone number and email@example.com to reach a specialist.
The Internal Revenue Service has also set up a webpage dedicated to COVID-19 with news regarding the tax deadline extension and online resources to help taxpayers with filing and refunds.
The U.S. Department of Labor has created a resource page with information on stopping the spread of COVID-19 and common issues employers and employees face when responding to the outbreak.
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency provides tips on avoiding cyber scams related to COVID-19.
The Texas Economic Development office has a website dedicated to COVID-19 resources and information for Texas businesses.
The Texas Workforce Commission created a COVID-19 page for employers and job seekers.
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has a resource page with tips for employees, guidance for employers, small business guides and a communications toolkit.
UPDATED AT 2:15 P.M. ON 03/27:
CoServ's cybersecurity experts are warning all employees working remotely to beware of hackers who are trying to steal their passwords.
The hackers will send links or attachments that look like a voicemail, an office document or a file from a legitimate server such as Dropbox or Sharepoint. Joel Scheller, CoServ's Information Security Analyst, said they are seeing an increased risk right now and that CoServ Employees need to be cautious.
If Employees are asked to provide their username and password, they should report it immediately to their respective IT teams.
“For instance, CoServ Client Services WILL NOT call you and ask you for your password or ask you to download software from a website,” Joel said. “If you get a call from your company's 'Tech Support' or 'Client Services' – please hang up and contact the real department through the appropriate channels.”
UPDATED AT 1:30 P.M. ON 03/26:
For most people, their biggest expense is their mortgage or rent payment.
Most of the major mortgage lenders are offering relief from payments and will not report the missed payments to credit bureaus, The Dallas Morning News reported. The hard part will be reaching someone at the mortgage company as they have less manpower than usual and are receiving high call volumes.
Renters got some assistance from the Texas Supreme Court, which issued an order halting all evictions statewide until April 19, The Texas Tribune reported. The only exception would be a renter who is a threat to others or is engaged in criminal activity.
UPDATED AT 1:30 P.M. ON 03/24:
Different counties are handling the stay-at-home orders differently, so please check your county to see how the order applies to you.
The shelter-in-place orders started with Dallas County Monday and have since extended to Tarrant, Collin, Denton, Wise, Cooke and Hunt counties.
Some cities have taken it upon themselves to issue shelter-in-place orders. Frisco, which straddles two counties, issued a more stringent definition of “social gathering.” Flower Mound extended its disaster declaration through April 20. The City of Forney ordered its residents to shelter in place.
At the state level, Gov. Greg Abbott has issued several executive orders in response to COVID-19. He stopped short of issuing a statewide shelter-in-place order because he said there are many rural counties that don’t have any coronavirus cases.
CoServ is considered Essential Critical Infrastructure by the National Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Agency (CISA) so we will continue providing electric and natural gas service without interruption. CoServ Employees who have the ability to work from home have been doing so since March 16.
CoServ also understands that the coronavirus outbreak has created financial difficulties for many of our Electric Members and Gas Customers. We have heard from many of you already, and we are doing what we can to help. This includes suspending disconnections for nonpayment and not imposing late fees or penalties through Monday, April 13.
For more details about requesting a payment extension or seeking financial assistance through one of the social service agencies we partner with, please visit CoServ.com/SmartHub. If we can be of further assistance, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.