Health

5 Takeaways From Frisco’s Coronavirus Town Hall

As of writing, there have been three confirmed coronavirus cases in Frisco, with a fourth patient being labeled a “presumptive positive.” In response, Frisco Mayor Jeff Cheney declared a state of emergency Monday morning.

Later that evening, Cheney hosted a town hall to address local concerns of the COVID-19 outbreak. He was joined by a panel consisting of Frisco city manager George Purefoy, Frisco ISD superintendent Dr. Mike Waldrip, Frisco medical director Dr. Mark Gamber, Frisco Fire Department chief Mark Piland and the city’s Chief of Police David Shilson. 

In addition to addressing concerns of public health, the panel also answered questions specific to Frisco residents’ daily routine. Below are five takeaways for how this affects the city’s public life.

The City of Frisco is not taking an official position on the closure of private businesses. 

“We are certainly aware of what other cities have done – from Dallas to Fort Worth – [regarding] partial closures or 50% occupancy,” explained Cheney in response to a question on if bars and restaurants will be required to close. “We’ve heard from restaurants and businesses – literally coming to me in tears, saying, ‘If you close me, I may not be able to reopen.’ And so we’re not going to make any decision lightly.”

He continued, “This is going to be a day-to-day evaluation process. Just because you see one city react, that may be specific to their community, and it may be very different from what Frisco needs to do to keep our residents safe.”

Officials recommend watching livestreamed church services if worshipers are capable. 

“I know a lot of [local churches] have closed service[s] – I think it’s smart,” opined Cheney. 

Gamber jumped in. “My family and I watched church on Sunday. We wanted to participate, but as the physician for this city, [I] appreciate the houses of worship that are practicing social distancing.”

Organizations that combat food insecurity are being strained.

Local nonprofits such as Fastpacs, Lovepacs, and Frisco Family Services are in abnormally critical need of resources to assist people facing food insecurity, and as such, panelists have suggested that local volunteers offer their services if they are capable. Some of these existing resources are specifically geared toward Frisco ISD students from low-income households, but according to Waldrip, parents will not need to have students present in order to obtain assistance.

Frisco ISD schools will resume class via eLearning, but STAAR tests are canceled.

With Frisco ISD extending its spring break, the district is resuming class sessions via eLearning starting next week. Waldrip confirmed that these online services will be extended to select special needs students, saying, “We have some students that fall in certain categories that will probably actually come into our facilities and work more directly with our teachers. It will be a mix of direct instruction or eLearning, depending on the needs of the student.”

Waldrip also confirmed that the STAAR exams are canceled for this year, at the request of state legislators and approximately 60 school districts that sent a letter to Texas Education Agency Commissioner Mike Morath and Governor Greg Abbott. 

There will be no curfew.

When asked if the city would enforce a curfew to de-escalate the spread of COVID-19, Shilson replied, “There is not a curfew. Frisco is a safe city – we intend to keep it a safe city. As I mentioned previously, we’ve actually seen a downward trend in our calls for service over the past week, and we hope that that continues.” 

Information and updates on Frisco’s coronavirus response are available at friscotexas.gov/coronavirus.

Garrett Gravley
Garrett Gravley is a Dallas-based writer, journalist and music critic. His work has appeared in the Dallas Observer, D Magazine, and Central Track.

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