The Helpers: Free COVID-19 testing, ACA health insurance, care for caregivers, mental health support, emergency aid for college students

The state of Texas is easing some restrictions, but the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic are deep and lasting across the community.

Many residents have suffered job loss or furloughs, others have been unable to gain immediate physical or mental healthcare access. Others cannot afford to buy food or other basic necessities.

But several area organizations are furnishing a variety of services to help the public. Here are a few:

*Drive-thru COVID-19 testing

Sites are open 9 a.m.-5 p.m. daily at Texas MedClinic, 2530 S.W. Military Drive, and at Walmart, 8923 W. Military Drive. The Texas MedClinic site is free for those without health insurance. Testing at the Walmart site is reserved for those exhibiting symptoms, as well as health care providers and first responders, whether or not they are exhibiting symptoms. To visit the Walmart site, make an appointment via eTrueNorth at www.DoINeedaCOVID19test.com.

*ACA Health Insurance:

If you lost your job, you are eligible to enroll in the Health Care Marketplace. Visit enrollesa.com or call 210-977-7997. Click here to watch a town hall by Sen. Lloyd Doggett and the Center for Public Policy Priorities to get more answers. Get more help in from this CPPP blog post: I just lost my job. How do I get health insurance?

*San Antonio Council on Alcohol and Drug Awareness (SACADA):

Offers online support groups at 2 p.m. weekdays, free of charge. SACADA also provides free online classroom platforms for at-risk youth, online court-mandated classes, and online meetings for community coalitions.

*Be A Champion:

Sponsors free grab-n-go meals for students age 18-under from any local school district 11 a.m.-1 p.m. Mondays and Wednesdays at the R3 Student Outreach, 2555 Castroville Road. Your child(ren) must be present.

*Steven Cohen Military Family Clinic at Endeavors:

Offers confidential therapy sessions for veterans and their families, and families of active-duty service members. Call 210-399-4838 or email SAClinic@endeavors.org for details.

*Children’s Bereavement Center of South Texas:

Has children's counselors on standby 9 a.m.-5 p.m. at 210-736-4847.

*Texas Health and Human Services:

Has a mental health support hotline. Call toll free 833-986-1919 anytime, 24/7.

*Alamo Colleges District Student Emergency Aid:

has established a fund to immediately help students with temporary emergency assistance and resources, including groceries, healthcare expenses, compensation for lost wages, rent, utility bills and technology access. Visit www.alamo.edu for more information.

*Texas Diaper Bank:

Is temporarily offering appointment-based services. Call 210-731-8118, option 1, or visit http://www.texasdiaperbank.org for more.

*Alzheimer’s Association:

Offers support to dementia caregivers. Call the helpline at 800-272-3900 or visit www.alz.org/COVID19 anytime, 24/7.

*Jewish Family Service:

Provides a support group for children and caregivers of aging parents via Zoom at 6:30 p.m. the first Wednesday of each month. There’s a $20 group fee. Call 210-965-2655 for details.