McLennan County Leadership Response Team formed to respond to COVID-19

Press Release – The Waco-McLennan County Public Health District, Ascension Providence, Baylor Scott & White, and the Family Health Center have formed the McLennan County Leadership Response Team to work and plan together on a local response to reports on the COVID-19 outbreak in the country.  Meeting weekly as a group, we are actively monitoring patients for risk factors and working to ensure our local health care system is prepared to respond to the situation as it unfolds.

There has been a lot of information in the news about COVID-19. If you are healthy, your risk is relatively low and recovery is high.  The good news is that the same steps you can take to stay healthy during the flu season will protect you from many viruses, including the flu and COVID-19. The Response Team has prepared a list of important facts to help people understand the current situation.  This is a rapidly evolving situation and the Response Team will provide updated information as it becomes available.

Risk

  • There are NO diagnosed COVID-19 cases in McLennan County. 
  • At this time, if you have not traveled to an effected area or have not had contact with someone with COVID-19, your risk is low.   Any respiratory symptoms you might have are more likely to be flu or another respiratory illness.
  • Most cases of COVID-19 are not severe. People with a greater risk of developing serious symptoms are Older adults; People with chronic conditions; and People with compromised immune systems.

Symptoms

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Difficulty Breathing

Facemasks

  • Facemasks are NOT recommended for people who are well.  The use of facemasks are crucial for health care workers and other people who are taking care of someone infected with COVID-19 in close settings (at home or in a health care facility).
  • You should only wear a facemask if a healthcare professional recommends it.

Protection

There is currently no vaccine to prevent COVID-19 infection. The best way to prevent infection is to avoid being exposed to this virus. The Waco-McLennan County Public Health District (PHD) encourages everyone to follow preventive actions to help prevent the spread of respiratory viruses, including:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with 60%-95% alcohol.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in a lined trash can.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces with regular household products.

Isolation and Quarantine

  • Your healthcare provider or the Public Health District may ask you to stay at home in order to slow the spread of the virus.  Please follow the instructions given to you.

Questions

People with questions can call the Public Health Information line at 254-750-1890 which is available Monday through Friday from 8am – 5pm.

Information

This is an rapidly evolving situation and Public Health District will provide updated information as it becomes available.  The most trustworthy sources for information are:

  • Waco-McLennan County Public Health District;
  • Texas Department of State Health Services;
  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; and
  • World Health Organization.

Books Matter: Alfred Solano

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 Mariah Bennett

 “Our greatness is our diversity. The best thing about life is diversity,” Alfred Solano said.

 Alfred Solano is the president and CEO of the Cen-Tex Hispanic Chamber of Commerce (CTHCC). According to Solano, the CTHCC is about leadership and Latinx representation in the community.

Solano was first introduced to activism and representation work by his father, a Chicano activist in the Alliance of Mexican Americans in Waco. He truly understood representation’s importance at 11 years old when he found a book in his father’s massive literature collection, “I am Joaquin, Yo Soy Joaquin,” an epic poem by Rodolfo Gonzales.

 In the poem the narrator Joaquin describes his struggles as a Mexican American born to Mexican born parents. What makes the poem special, besides its connection to the Chicano movement, is its structure. The poem is split in two columns on every page. On one column there is poetry written in Spanish and the other column there is an English translation. To a young Solano, “I am Joaquin, Yo Soy Joaquin,” made him feel recognized, he said.

 Solano, like many Mexican Americans, was not taught Spanish growing up. With the book, Solano could learn the language thanks to the structure.

 “I remember thinking at the time…that’s really cool I can go from one [column] to another and learn,” Solano said.

 Solano said he was also able to learn from “I Am Joaquin, Yo Soy Joaquin” about how the Aztecs invented the concept of zero. Growing up, Solano had a love for math and said he felt connected to the Aztecs because of this. 

 “I’m part of this group that invented the concept of zeros … It really gave me a sense of power,” Solano said.

 “I am Joaquin, Yo Soy Joaquin” is a piece of literature that mattered to Solano as a child and still matters. The poem made Solano feel recognized as a Mexican American, which is the type of work Solano does today for the Latinx community. The CTHCC helps those in the community be recognized, represented and come into positions of leadership. “I am Joaquin, Yo Soy Joaquin” has shaped movements, cities and individual worlds like the ones of Alfred Solano.

Books Matter: Amy Sassatelli

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 Megan Messer

For some people, reading books is a way to escape reality. For others, it’s a way of life. Amy Sassatelli, library assistant for Waco-McLennan County Library, reads about 100 books each year. Her favorite is a nonfiction book called The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg.

“It’s one of my main books. When people want recommendations I recommend this one. It’s one most people come back to me and say, ‘That was such a good book,’” Sassatelli said. “I like it because it’s more than it sounds. It sounds like the power of habits and you would think it would be just that, but it’s about so much more than just habits.”

Sassatelli said Duhigg’s book, which made the New York Times bestseller list in 2012, helps readers understand how their habits affect their work life and personal life.

“Humans are weird and complex creatures, and this book explains how we tend to make things more complicated in our minds than they really need to be,” Sassatelli said. “For example, making our beds. If you don’t do anything else, make your bed when you get out of it in the morning, and incrementally all of the little everyday things will sprout from there.”

The book touches on a variety of tasks people do in everyday life, and how different habits form out of the smaller things people do every day, even if they aren’t thinking about it.

 “It kind of explains why your brain does certain things and why it makes those connections. It makes one tiny thing affect your life in so many different ways,” Sassatelli said. “So, learning small changes that you can make to make your life better, why would you not do that?”

Even though she said she does not normally re-read books, Sassatelli has returned to The Power of Habit many times to give advice to her husband, sister-in-law and colleagues at work.

“I read a lot, so I definitely put thought into this book as one of my favorites,” Sassatelli said. “I think the good thing about this book is it makes you think that even if you better yourself in a small way, your brain still expects a reward of some type. If you read this book, you’ll pick up on things like that that will really surprise you.”

Books Matter: Allison Frenzel

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 Lucy Ruscitto

 Allison Frenzel, co-owner of the Fabled Book Shop & Cafe says books are “the best way to experience a life you might never experience… allow[ing] the imagination to hope outside its boundaries of regular life.”

The next novel Frenzel believes that Wacoans should dedicate their time to is The Which Way Tree. Frenzel said she listened to Elizabeth Crook’s novel on audio and became “enraptured in the magic of it.”

“It’s a Western. I love a strong woman and adventure,” Frenzel said. “I recommend this book to all Wacoans because it’s a story that has a little bit of magic. As a piece of art, it was so beautiful.”

Frenzel’s understanding of the importance of literacy contributed to her drive to open a book store with Kimberly Batson.

“This is a town full of readers,” Frenzel said. “What if we had this place that could be a hub?”

Frenzel said when researching what the store’s name should be, she and Batson, co-owner of both Fabled and Common Grounds,  intentionally deliberated.

“We love the aspect Texas is known for, which is the tall-tale,” Frenzel said. “[Fabled] celebrates the nostalgia of fairytales and magic.”

Frenzel said the opening of the shop was “ironic” for her, as her son was diagnosed with dyslexia as the launch occurred. At first, she said she struggled knowing he would battle with something that often came naturally to other children his age.

“It really is a disability,” Frenzel said. “But then, we realized there’s so many strengths people with dyslexia have.”

Frenzel said that this was her motivation for opening Fabled.

“We better have really good books… that he feels are worth muscling through. Because of it, he loves to read. He just knows it’s hard work,” Frenzel said.

Frenzel acknowledges the diverse Waco community in their book inventory with the “shelf that celebrates brains that are different,” meant for children just like her son and others who feel excluded from reading.

“I want kids to come in and see books [and] say, ‘Hey! That person on the cover looks like me!’” she said. “Reading is for everybody.”

Books Matter: Alan Bond

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 Kate Nelson

Alan Bond, Baylor University’s Student Government External Vice President, explained how the autobiographical Holocaust book, Night by Elie Wiesel, had an impact on his worldview and his perspective on leadership. 

Night describes Wiesel’s experience in the Holocaust, where he was interned in the concentration camp Auschwitz from 1944 to 1945. 

“Seeing it in the perspective of the Jewish man, Elie Wiesel, I was able to see first hand, from a first person point of view, what the people went through, all the hardships. I could just see what people are pushed to and who follows who,” Bond said. 

Bond was not only shocked at the crimes committed during the Holocaust, but also how truly influential a leader can be.

“It shows me a lot about leadership. With Hitler, everything he did for people who followed him is crazy to me. How can someone follow someone like him and do these terrible acts?” Bond asked. 

 Bond also gained understanding about the effect leaders can have over people, despite how bad that leader may be.

“Reading a book like that is shock treatment. It brings you into the harshness of society and the things that can happen to you, and the people around you, and how leaders can influence a great many people, for the better or for the worse,” Bond said.

While Night had a clear impact on Bond and his worldview, he went on to explain why literacy is important in a broader context. 

“Books matter especially in a university setting. You’ll learn about not only the society you are in, the history about yourself, the history about the world, but it’s also more contemplative … you learn a lot more about yourself,” Bond said. 

Bond’s comments on Night show the importance of literacy in developing an understanding of the world, its history and the role people play in it.

Act Locally Waco “Books Matter” Project to Promote Reading In Waco Community

Press ReleaseMarch is National Reading Month, a whole month designated to encouraging Americans – and by extension Wacoans – to read! 

The Act Locally Waco blog and on-line newsletter are beating the drum for National Reading Month by hosting a blog series throughout the month of March, called “Books Matter.” The purpose of the blog series is to spark the urge to read by sharing stories about books that matter to Waco residents.  “We hope to share a story a day every day throughout National Reading Month,” says Act Locally Waco founder and blog editor, Ashley Bean Thornton.  “I can’t tell you how much I love this project!  I have edited 23 of the posts so far, and every single one of them is a beautiful tribute to reading.” 

Thornton worked with Amber Adamson from the Baylor Department of Journalism, Public Relations and New Media to create the blog series.  Journalism students from Professor Adamson’s classes interviewed a wide variety of Wacoans about books that have mattered to them. “The students did a fantastic job,” says Thornton.  “Some of the posts are quite moving.”

The list of interviewees ranges from Mayor Kyle Deaver, and County Commissioner Patricia Chisolm-Miller, to WISD Teacher of the Year Ashley Toscano, and legendary Baylor football coach, Grant Teaff, among many others.  From children’s books to self-published books, each post explores the interviewee’s personal story of why books matter.

“It was an effective way to pull together a list of powerful books read by influential people in our community,” Professor Amber Adamson, who helped coordinate the series, says. “How cool is it to know what’s on the mayor’s bookshelf, or to know what our local nonprofit leaders read to inspire them?”

“To take people around the community and say, ‘This person loves this book and you might love it too’ puts a really nice personal connection to a specific title,” Community Services Supervisor at the Waco-McLennan County Library, Jessica Emmett, says. “For a lot of people, especially in a smaller town, it’s a great way for them to explore the world.”

The blog posts will start being released on March 1 and will continue until the end of the month. Visit ActLocallyWaco.org to read the posts, and visit Waco-McLennan County Library or Fabled Bookshop & Café to read the books.