Collin County Politics: Covid, Covid Everywhere

September 14, 2021

Covid Update: Collin County has 117,706 confirmed Covid cases. This is 4,482 more cases than I reported last week and 94 of our Collin residents have died. That’s 25 people who’ve died since my last column. Not good. Given this bad news, you’d think the Collin County commissioners might want people paying attention to negative local trends and taking more precautions. But that would presuppose they care about anything more than their own political fortunes.

In 2020, the commissioners voted against using any data other than hospitalizations on their dashboard. They claimed to be concerned about the state’s backlog of cases but what they really wanted was to falsely lower the numbers in Collin County. They wanted to look good; this hasn’t changed. Our dashboard still only provides information on hospitalizations. There are two problems with this. First, our hospitals are currently over capacity, so the rate of people being hospitalized is artificially low. Second, we need to know the trends in order to make decisions about our health. The CDC is telling people to wear masks in places with high rates of transmission. If we don’t know the true rate of transmission, how can we make good choices for ourselves and our families? By not providing us with all the data, the commissioners are putting us at risk. Typical.

School Boards: This seems to be where most of the action is these days. Instead of using his position to actually benefit Texans (you know, like he’s supposed to), Attorney General Ken Paxton filed a lawsuit against Richardson ISD, following through on his threat to punish school districts that mandate masks and take back local control. Richardson ISD had good reasons for requiring masks. They were forced to close an elementary school due to a Covid spike and a 6th-grade child was admitted into the intensive care unit. Because they care about their students and staff, the Richardson School Board members voted to protect the community rather than inflate Governor Greg Abbott’s ego.

Other school districts also need to prioritize public health over politics. Many already have and more will follow as Covid cases rise. Coppell ISD became the most recent district to implement a mask mandate although they have an opt-out policy for ignorant and selfish parents. The opt-out policies are cringeworthy but they don’t seem to be as bad as originally feared since only a small percentage of parents are using them.

Plano ISD’s mask mandate seems to be mostly working. Around 50 of the 75 Plano ISD facilities saw a drop in COVID cases, 13 stayed steady, and 11 schools saw an increase of just a single case. While there are still pockets of Covid clusters (including a whopping increase of 19 cases at Solomon Adult Transition Center and an additional 17 cases at Brinker Elementary), the masks seem to be keeping more students and staff safe. School districts that haven’t yet implemented mask mandates need to take note!

This is especially true for Allen ISD which is facing a federal lawsuit from a number of families. The lawsuit alleges that Allen ISD and school board members violated students’ constitutional rights by not implementing enough protocols to curb the spread of the coronavirus. Before filing, the law firm representing the families asked AISD to do better but the district absolutely refused to follow CDC protocol mitigation efforts, enact more efficient contact tracing, increase social distancing, and establish a virtual option for K-6 or for immune-compromised families. They’ve been telling concerned parents that they can just leave the district if they don’t like it.

AISD insists their Covid protocols of deep cleaning, social distancing, and encouraging vaccinations are just fine. I’m incredibly tired of pointing out that Covid is a respiratory illness which means that deep cleaning will have minimal effect on contagiousness. And if AISD thinks they’re social distancing, they’re fooling themselves. I’ve seen pictures of their jampacked pep rallies. They’re also remaining mum on anything related to Covid (including that one of their football coaches died of the virus), leaving students to wonder what’s going on. If that isn’t bad enough, AISD officials are attacking members of the class action lawsuit by summoning them to truancy court or refusing to take doctors’ notes for those quarantining due to close contact. There’s a reason why the families chose to remain anonymous to the general public.

I work in Allen and used to think it’s a city that cares about its’ community. Given the last city council election (where known felons and criminals are now leading the city) and the latest actions by the school board, I’ve changed my mind.

I’ve been asked what we can do (besides voting) to make our local politicians listen to us, especially those who don’t share our values. You’re not going to like the answer. Democrats must show up to these meetings ALL THE TIME! We cannot just arrive during times of crisis and expect school boards and city councils to listen to us. They believe that if they ignore us long enough, we’ll go away. Memories are short. Once elections roll around, they’re counting on voters to have either forgotten or for their passion to have waned. They’re not wrong; that’s what usually happens. But we can change that narrative.

If we’re consistently engaged, if we show up to every meeting and interact regularly with our elected officials, they’re much more likely to consider what we have to say because they’ll know us better and realize we’re not going away.

Consistent engagement also allows for finding common ground and developing a solid working relationship. A number of Republican politicians attended and spoke at the celebration of life for strong Democrat and activist Kate Garrison. Kate was a tireless advocate for people with disabilities and regularly showed up at meetings, talking with whoever would listen. As a result, politicians paid attention and were willing to work with her. We need to be more like Kate.

Comments 4

  1. As a retired teacher, I’m so ready or a major change in Texas politics. It’s so hard to fight the idiots in charge. Moving forward and having representatives that will actually listen to us and respond. I won’t believe their lies anymore. It’s time we get to speak up and vote for people who are not liars!

  2. Your observations about Allen no longer being a place that cares about people is a hard truth. I’ve lived here 25 years now and I just don’t know what to make of it. In nov 2020 Allen voted for Biden. And then in May and June, 2021, Allen voted in the right wing extremists with zero background or even college degrees to be city council. How did we fall so far so fast? I just think a lot of people don’t vote in local elections. We need to do some analysis on this voter data to find out who voted for Biden that did not come back an vote on the municipal. We need to go talk to them at their doors and make sure they understand what has happened and motivate them to vote in every election from here forward. I have been quoting you Misty- “local politics is the heartbeat of Democracy”. It’s really true. It may determine your life expectancy too.

    1. Post

      You’re absolutely correct about people not voting in municipal elections. It’s usually less than 15% of the electorate (and that’s a high estimate) and for positions that impact our daily lives far more than any other. We need to spread that message (I’m trying!). I’m so delighted to hear that you’re using that quote. I wish others would as well.

  3. Best sentences: “I’ve been asked what we can do (besides voting) to make our local politicians listen to us, especially those who don’t share our values. You’re not going to like the answer. Democrats must show up to these meetings ALL THE TIME! ”

    And yes, we need to be more like Kate.

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