By Ferrell Foster
Five Waco civic, health, and school leaders Wednesday encouraged the people of Greater Waco to think of their neighbors and to be careful how they are involved in gatherings and celebrate the Labor Day weekend. They also stressed the importance of getting a flu shot.
With the holiday coming and football season upon us, Mayor Kyle Deaver asked residents to do these activities “smartly and safely” so the community can remain open. “Take care of yourself and take care of each other.” He made the comments during the weekly City of Waco News Conference related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Jerry Maze, executive director for Education Service Center Region 12, noted, “What happens in the community shows up in the schools,” and that can be both good and bad. “If everyone works together and makes good decisions, we get better outcomes.”
Dr. Brian Becker, of Ascension Providence Hospital, called special attention to the holiday weekend, noting that following standard safety procedures is important for our public health and to our neighbors.
Dr. Marc Elieson, of Baylor Scott & White-HIllcrest, also spoke to the importance of wearing face masks, distancing, and proper hand hygiene. ”Be wise,” he said.
A number of questions were asked about schools and Baylor. For students, “it’s so much more about what’s happening off campus,” Mayor Deaver said. “We know this is hard; it’s trying for everyone, … but it’s the way we keep schools open and having football” and other activities.
Dr. Jackson Griggs, of the Family Health Center, praised the efforts of Baylor University to test and then isolate students exposed to COVID-19. “I’m impressed with efforts by Baylor to mitigate the risk.”
Current hospitalizations are down some, but the hospital representatives said their in-patient numbers usually lag behind case counts by about a week. And case counts have been rising in McLennan County.
The current “Effective Reproduction Rate” for McLennan County is 1.07, Mayor Deaver said. Anything above 1 means the disease is expanding, not contracting. The Rt is a measure of contagiousness or how many people one COVID-19 person infects.
In his closing remarks, Dr. Griggs highlighted the importance of bringing down the positivity rate. In recent weeks that rate has hovered just under 15% in McLennan County, which is above the state rate. More testing helps identify people with COVID-19 and also lowers the positivity rate. “Anyone with subtle symptoms needs to come in and be tested,” Dr. Griggs said. The first step is to contact your primary care physician.
The head of Family Health Center also emphasized the importance of flu vaccinations. “We need to keep flu rates down this season,” Dr. Griggs said. There’s a lot we don’t know about flu and COVID-19 infections in the same person. “Flu vaccines are imperative.”
It is especially important to promote the flu vaccines in “communities of color” because they have been particularly hard hit by COVID-19 and have “historically lower vaccination rates.”
The news conference is aired at 1:30 p.m. each Wednesday at WCCC-TV for the public to view.
Ferrell Foster is senior content specialist for care and communication for Prosper Waco. He also serves on the Act Locally Waco Board of Directors and helps the website with blog posts related to health, education, financial security, and equity.
By Mayor Kyle Deaver
The brutal killing of George Floyd on Memorial Day at the hands of Minneapolis police was tragic, despicable, and completely unacceptable to our society. Unfortunately, it is part of a long history of the lack of equity in our nation. Waco has its own sad history of racism, including the lynching of Jesse Washington on May 15, 1916.
We have begun to face this reality in our community, and we must continue to move toward a more racially equitable society. The peaceful protestors and demonstrators who spoke and marched together this past Saturday in Waco were right in their calls for action. We must continue to work toward this future together.
Across the country, peaceful protestors and demonstrators have voiced this same desire. Unfortunately, in many cities, protests have involved looting and vandalism. That’s a terrible situation for many reasons. It is obviously unfair to those whose businesses and property are affected. It puts fellow protesters and police in danger, and it warps the message of the need to end racism in our nation. This jeopardizes that very message that so desperately needs to be heard, and it causes many of the people who need to hear and engage on this important message to, instead, become fearful and angry.
I want to thank the organizers and all who participated in last Saturday’s protests and demonstrations for their thoughtful, genuine approach to the problem of racial inequity and violence by some police officers. It is certainly not all, but it’s also not just “a few bad apples.” I also want to thank the leaders in our communities of color for their wise approach to these difficult times. And I want to thank them for relationships they have built with our police force.
I respect and admire every member of Waco’s Police Department that I have had the opportunity to get to know. I believe that each of them are every bit as sickened by what transpired in Minneapolis as I am. Police brutality anywhere in our nation strains the relationship between our citizens and the police who are doing their important and often dangerous work as they try to protect all of us.
Let’s continue to work together toward healing and racial equity. That will require difficult conversations about next steps. Those conversations have to occur.
Kyle Deaver was elected mayor in 2016 and was unopposed in 2018. He previously served four years on the Waco City Council as the representative for District V. Kyle is an attorney and businessman who is active in the Waco community. Deaver is currently on the board of the Waco Foundation. He has served on the boards of the Cameron Park Zoological Society, Greater Waco Chamber of Commerce, Vanguard College Preparatory School, and St. Paul’s Episcopal Day School. He served six years on the Waco Plan Commission.
March is National Reading Month, a whole month designated to encouraging Americans – and by extension Wacoans – to read! The Act Locally Waco blog is beating the drum for National Reading Month by hosting a blog series throughout the month of March, called “Books Matter.” Every day throughout March we will be sharing a post about a Waco resident and a book that matters to him/her. Thank you to students from the Baylor Department of Journalism, Public Relations and New Media and professor Amber Adamson for help with this fun project. To read all the blog posts so far, click here.
By: Alexis Scott
Modern times have fostered an environment that puts technology at an all-time high. Smartphones, tablets and laptops hold power over kids, teens and adults more and more each day. Snapchat, Instagram and other apps like Twitter have infiltrated the daily lives of people across the globe. With the attention now on screens, activities that maintain essential value, like reading, have been forgotten.
Many people still believe in the power of the written word; one of those people is Waco Mayor Kyle Deaver. Deaver said he thinks reading is an essential part of character development.
“I think it opens your mind to new ideas, in ways that no other medium can,” Deaver said.
Mayor Deaver appreciates the stories that hold true meaning, especially redemption stories. Laura Hillenbrand’s 2010 book Unbroken exemplifies what reading really means to him.
“I just think it’s such an amazing story of the human spirit,” Mayor Deaver said. “I just think that this is the kind of story that young people should be reading, that they should know.”
Reading is not something to be left in the past. It is essential not only for entertainment but allows people to open their minds to stories with meaning and lessons to learn in ways that technology and social media cannot.
“Those things are great, but you get to dive deeply into ideas, I think that’s the main difference,” Deaver said.
Put down the screen and pick up a book and open your mind to new ideas.