Council discusses COVID-19 changes

The Rowlett city council discussed new COVID-19 strategies to be implemented for council meetings as well as the course of the vaccine rollout.

During the recent Rowlett City Council meeting, the council discussed options to move forward with in-person public meetings.

The city of Rowlett has remained at high risk level along with North Texas. In June, Rowlett had 5,854 confirmed and probable cases. The most recent record is from December and Rowlett had 12, 512 cases. The three options for public meetings included in-person, virtual, or a hybrid which would be for the council to meet in-person and the public audience to be remote.

“We do still have limited capacity in the Council Chambers, and we are in the process of installing Plexiglass for the dais and staff sitting area,” Deputy City Manager Angie Smith said.

It was recommended by the city that the council move to an in-person or hybrid public meeting for the next city council meeting. Along with a resolution to meeting discussion, the council also recommended COVID-19 be discussed.

“As long as the statistics are sitting where they are now and we are in a code red stay at home, I think it is prudent and responsible to stay home until the vaccine is made available and we can meet,” Councilwoman Martha Brown said. “I know we all are waiting to get back to business as usual, but we need to set the example for safety in our city, and we are being able to conduct business through our Zoom meetings and stay informed and would agree to continue that.”

The majority of the council moved to stay at home for another month or until the entire council has been given the vaccine. Along with discussion about the council meeting in person, the emergency management team presented strategies.

“Everyone understands that the availability of the vaccine will be limited for a while. As we bring more vaccines into the market, that will ease the pressure,” Assistant Emergency Management Coordinator Ed Balderas said. “As for us, we’ve been planning for the vaccination rollout for several months. The challenge has been that the federal government has decided to dissolve responsibility for coordinating this after distribution from the suppliers to the state and locals.”

In addition, the state has changed the strategy for the vaccine rollout to fall into a private sector. Instead, it has focused on a public sector and moved through the phases, which were established previously. In regard to local longer term facilities, emergency management has provided vaccine rollouts without issues. Those included in the first phases can register to get the vaccine.

“Patience is the best approach. There is limited control of what we have in ensuring that not only providers have the vaccine but also go through Garland Health and other amenities,” Balderas said. “We are publishing information on where they can go to look for providers. There is a map the state has provided and how many vaccines they have received.”

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