It feels like the only topic of conversation in recent days has been the development and spread of the coronavirus/COVID-19 pandemic.
While the constant stream of information, changes in recommendations, and climbing numbers can be overwhelming, it is extremely important to stay engaged and aware of these developments. While the fatality rate appears to be considerably lower than that of the last comparable world health crisis – the 2003 SARS outbreak – coronavirus (sudden acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2, or SARS-CoV-2) has spread more widely and aggressively, infecting over a quarter of a million people worldwide and counting. This rate of transmission has already resulted in 3 times more fatalities in just 8 weeks than SARS caused over 8 months. As we take drastic measures to #flattenthecurve and practice #socialdistancing, people are dealing with very severe impediments to their ability to stay healthy, safe, employed, and source/pay for the things they need. We are not the first company to make a statement in an attempt to help during this time, nor will we be the last, but we care deeply for the challenges our clients are facing. We stand with our communities through this crisis, and we hope that the following information is valuable in providing needed answers.
Of course, we are here to help our clients with general questions, as well as those related to your specific circumstance or case. Please know that you can reach out anytime 24/7 for assistance to our numerous communication channels, listed for your convenience at the end of this article.
Statements from National and International Institutions
Despite the volume of information on the pandemic, the directives, updates, and information shared by some institutions are more accurate than others. Look to authoritative, reliable sources for the latest updates and recommendations, such as:
World Health Organization (WHO) – Up to the minute rolling updates on the status of the pandemic around the globe, research advancements, and safety recommendations.
Centers for Disease Control (CDC) – Important scientific-based information about how to protect yourself, resources if you believe you have been exposed or infected, industry-specific advice for prevention, and current national status reports.
Food and Drug Administration (FDA) – Advice and guidelines for safe food handling, grocery shopping, and food industry guidance.
Statements from Texas Institutions
State of Texas – Governor Greg Abbott issued an executive order for the following precautionary measures:
- Limiting public gatherings to fewer than 10 people
- Closing schools
- Prohibiting visitors to retirement communities or nursing homes
- Limiting bars and restaurants to take-out only service
These restrictions were put in place through April 3rd and were accompanied by a recommendation for non-essential state employees to work from home. The restrictions are subject to extension based on the recommendations of the CDC.
TxDOT – Earlier this week TxDOT leadership released a statement of critical initiatives and impacts of COVID-19 on operations, including:
- Transportation system improvement projects – work will continue
- Remote and online services and resources remain available, though the 12 travel information center buildings will be closed, employees are working remotely, and public hearings are currently canceled.
- Roadway signage is being updated with messages including “Give Xtra Space, With Each Other, And On The Road” and “Hands Clean, 2 Beat COVID-19, Be on TX Team” in efforts to help public awareness and good practice.
Conditions and guidelines are continuing to evolve as expert researchers, analysts and leaders learn more. Yesterday the Dallas Police Department reported that they have officers with confirmed cases of the virus and are taking steps to protect the public and the rest of the force accordingly. As the pandemic situation progresses, it is important that leaders in our community continue taking a proactive approach to maintaining the health and safety of all members of our community.
Statements from Insurance Providers
State Farm – State Farm has issued a statement from company leadership including responses to the emergency conditions, with contingency plans in place for customers and for their workforce. Claims are currently being handled online and transparency around working practices for their employees is maintained on their advisory page.
Farmers – Farmers Insurance is offering remote claims service and is also willing to work with customers needing in-person visits on an individual basis, taking into consideration the current CDC guidelines. Full–time online account management is ongoing, and they are still operating roadside assistance services should the need arise.
USAA – USAA has shared extensive plans and details on initiatives in response to coronavirus concerns. The company has taken steps in alignment with its Public Health Emergency Plan. The company’s alignment with military values has proven extremely helpful in responding to the crisis by practicing consistent training and preparedness measures. Current statements on updates to policy and procedure from the company include:
- 24/7 phone and digital access to customer support, including a need-based hierarchy of response
- Transparency around departmental delays including: check processing, new claims, vehicle repair, vehicle rental
- Physical office locations are closed to the public and employees are working remotely. Nonessential work activities have been canceled or postponed in favor of supporting critical services at this time.
- Texas organizations have benefited from the USAA’s $1 million dollar donation to relief efforts for vulnerable populations during the coronavirus, such as: San Antonio Food Bank, South Texas Blood & Tissue Center, Meals on Wheels, Haven for Hope, and United Way of San Antonio.
Allstate – Allstate has been less vocal, announcing they are available as a customer resource through customer portals via their website. No specifics were given in regard to changes in daily operations, only a statement that the company is following CDC recommendations. However, in WFAA report this week, a representative of Allstate publicly announced that the company is working with clients on payment plans for bills due at this time. Two premium payments in a row may be skipped without penalty, however any further details require a call or online inquiry to Allstate customer service.
GEICO – GEICO has released perhaps the least information. Their statement directs customers to utilize online account access for questions and service, warning wait times will be extended.
Individual practices among insurance carriers vary widely, but what they have in common is indications of delay in processing and increased digital communication. If you have an outstanding claim, it’s an important time to connect with your legal team to get the answers you need.
What the Current Disruption Means for Your Case
The most important thing that we at Thompson Law wish for our clients is a full recovery. While we are all doing our best to weather this pandemic, our desire for good health and well-being is only increased. That being said, it can feel like a difficult judgment call to decide whether to stay home in quarantine, or go to your scheduled treatment appointments.
If you are recovering from an injury after your accident, it is very important to follow the treatment directives of your healthcare provider. Doctors’ offices, clinics and hospitals are all operating under strict guidelines for best practices of patient care and office sterilization. Speak with your provider about their recommendations for your specific course of treatment at this time, and any concerns you may have regarding COVID-19 and your personal safety.
In addition to in-person medical appointments, there are other facets of treatment that are important to maintain through this disruption. If you are taking prescription medication, be sure that you are continuing to take and refill your prescriptions as directed by your doctor. Major pharmacies like Walgreens and CVS are communicating instructions for pharmacy access, and many are starting to offer home delivery or more drive-thru service.
Many medical practices are allowing telehealth appointments where they can conduct your visit online via webcam, including telemedicine for coronavirus assessments and monitoring. Physical therapists and chiropractors are offering telemedicine appointments right now so that you can continue treatment from your own home. Check with your insurance provider if this service is covered under your plan. Many are expanding or adding these services due to the current COVID-19 outbreak.
With the challenges this time is bringing, there is also greater ingenuity and flexibility among medical institutions to work with you. Be sure to prioritize and continue your treatment and recovery as much as it is safe to do so.
Thompson Law is Here for You
All of us at Thompson Law certainly sympathize with your concerns during this time. Our coworkers, friends and family all share the same top of mind worries while coronavirus dominates the news and impacts our lives. Taking care of our basic needs at present is more difficult for most of us. If you have concerns around the impact to your claim or case during this period, we understand, and we are here for you.
The personal injury attorneys at Thompson Law are available to help answer your questions. If you have specific concerns about the status of your case, please contact us. If you do not have an existing case with Thompson Law but need personal injury legal assistance, our office remains fully functional. While we are not currently accepting in–person appointments, the below channels of communication are available to you. Our staff is practicing safe social distancing while working from home while a few select team members remain on–site in the office location. These efforts are allowing us to continue working hard for our customers while staying safe. It remains our strongest desire to help and take care of you through these challenges.
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