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Small businesses in Texas can apply for emergency federal loans to help ride out coronavirus pandemic, Abbott announces

Texans can apply online to see if they qualify for a long-term, low-interest loan from the U.S. Small Business Administration.

HOUSTON — *Editor's Note: The above video was originally published March 27, 2020, when KHOU 11 featured a small business in the Houston-area having to change their business model during the COVID-19 pandemic.*

Small businesses battered by the novel coronavirus pandemic sweeping through Texas can apply for long-term, low-interest loans from the U.S. Small Business Administration, Gov. Greg Abbott announced on Friday.

The Economic Injury Disaster Loan is available for small businesses to apply. Questions of eligibility, and how to apply, can be answered on the agency website.

Businesses are seeking relief from the government following economic devastation brought by the new coronavirus, which has led to major event cancelations, school district shut downs and closures of in-person bar and restaurant services. Business owners have not been thrilled with the government’s response.

At the beginning of the week, when business started slowing and some Texas cities required certain sectors close or limit operations, Kevin Richie, who owns a light and installation company in Austin, was looking for government support.

“The president keeps talking about these SBA funds, but I’ve checked their site and it looks like there’s a slew of states that have applied. And Texas hasn’t,” Richie said on Monday. “But even then, whenever Texas does appear eligible, it’s a loan that you need to qualify for.”

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Richie and other small business owners said they need the money quickly. Bob Stein, a professor at Rice University, said the SBA has typically administered funds swiftly.

“Of the 2,500 federal aid programs,” Stein said, “I can’t think of a single federal aid program that can inject money into the system as quickly you can with the SBA.”

Abbott and the SBA have not provided a timeline for the loan program.

This story was originally published at TexasTribune.orgThe Texas Tribune is a nonprofit, nonpartisan media organization that informs Texans — and engages with them — about public policy, politics, government and statewide issues.   

Coronavirus symptoms

The symptoms of coronavirus can be similar to the flu or a bad cold. Symptoms include a fever, cough and shortness of breath, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

Most healthy people will have mild symptoms. A study of more than 72,000 patients by the Centers for Disease Control in China showed 80 percent of the cases there were mild.

But infections can cause pneumonia, severe acute respiratory syndrome, kidney failure and even death, according to the World Health Organization. Older people with underlying health conditions are most at risk.

The CDC believes symptoms may appear anywhere from two to 14 days after being exposed.

Human coronaviruses are usually spread through...

  • The air by coughing or sneezing
  • Close personal contact, such as touching or shaking hands
  • Touching an object or surface with the virus on it, then touching your mouth, nose or eyes before washing your hands.

Help stop the spread of coronavirus

  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Eat and sleep separately from your family members
  • Use different utensils and dishes
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with your arm, not your hand.
  • If you use a tissue, throw it in the trash.

Lower your risk

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
  • If you are 60 or over and have an underlying health condition such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes or respiratory illnesses like asthma or COPD, the World Health Organization advises you to try to avoid crowds or places where you might interact with people who are sick.

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