Ellis County Judge Todd Little hosted an "Open Texas" event with a crowd of more than 50 people on Aug. 24.
"We’re happy to open up our courthouse this afternoon for a very important message...We’ve got an order of service today and an order of the agenda," Little said. "We proclaim today the same message which securely binds the past to the present and the present to the future and binds all Texans together in sacred covenant. The Earth upon which we rest is Liberty and the air we breathe is freedom."
Little stated that he was heavily involved in meetings and consultations with the doctors and medical staff of the leading medical facilities in Ellis County when COVID-19 first presented itself. They were unprepared during the initial stages of COVID-19, but followed the orders of executive leaders.
"We followed the lead of our president, our governor and our CDC officials and sought through our emergency declaration to flatten the curve by mitigating the spread of the virus, thereby allowing the doctors, nurses and healthcare facilities during those critical early days of the pandemic to swiftly scale with medical equipment, ventilators and protective gear for the members of our healthcare teams and first responders," Little said. "We worked with school administrators and city officials, as thousands of students and families were returning from spring break. With the help of some of our most experienced, talented and hardest working people in our community, I am proud to report our battlefield plan worked. The curve was flattened, the viral spread was mitigated and untold numbers of lives were saved. Now the conditions in the field have changed. Our plan must be revised...Through the herculean mitigation effort of many, the virus is contained and the risk is manageable."
Before passing off the microphone, Little shared his perspective on fully opening the state, "As a small business owner, I know our businesses have sacrificed way too much during the past few months. Businesses must resume, parents must go back to work, students must have access back to the classrooms, traded commerce must flow and restaurants must open to full capacity. How can we ask an owner to give up his profit while remaining at 50% capacity? Our schools must get back to allowing young men and women to participate in sports, band and numerous extracurricular activities."
Dr. Richard Bartlett, who has practiced medicine for more than 20 years, shared medical statistics. Bartlett was also elected by then-Gov. Rick Perry years ago to join a health disparity task force with a goal of exploring how to make health care available to all Texans.
"Many decisions during this crisis have been negatively affected and they’re based on fear. American health care has been the best in the world because of early treatment. Today we present facts not fear," Bartlett began. "Eight months ago, we didn’t have this but now we have scientific facts that are reproducible by independent sources and new data that is still forthcoming."
Bartlett shared different statistics from sources on COVID-19. He quoted Nature magazine, stating that children are less susceptible to COVID-19 compared to the regular flu.
"Children are prolific spreaders of the flu every year..but we have never closed school or canceled organized sports for the flu, which is far more deadly for children. So why should we close schools for COVID?" Bartlett said.
He then stated that extended school closures are harmful to children, and the crowd replied in agreement by shouting "Open Texas."
Cindy Burch, president of the Downtown Merchants Association and owner of the Doves Nest, spoke on the small businesses in Waxahachie and importance of opening restaurants to full capacity.
"I’ve been a merchant on this beautiful town square for 26 years. My mother started across the way over 30 years ago. My husband and I took over in the original hardware store one block over. We’re only the third owners of that building and we live in a loft above it. We’ve been on this square. We have watched it grow over the years, it means so much to us. I’m really a Dallas city kid and so grateful that I got to Ellis County and be a part of this community in Waxahachie, there is nothing like it," Burch said. "Our restaurants are dying if we do not get back open. We have been so fortunate here in Ellis County. We reinvented ourselves when all of this happened, we started curbside pick-up immediately. We started family dinners on the weekend. We made it. We were able to pay our employees, keep everybody on staff through all of this but at 50% occupancy with restaurants across our state, it cannot continue. We are fortunate because we own our building and we live in our building but if we were down here like so many of my other merchants...we’re not gonna make it much longer."
Waxahachie resident Ann Martin came to the event with a group called Texas Caregivers for Compromise to support the opening of Texas.
"We’re asking the governor to allow essential caregivers in to see our loved ones. We haven’t been able to see them for almost six months now and he did just recently just make provision that if the facility has no COVID case then they can apply and you can go see your loved one through a Plexiglass for an hour. But my mom has dementia and so I need to be able to touch her and talk to her and she needs to be able to see me," Martin said with tear-filled eyes. "And I have two friends whose parents have died in assisted living. They didn’t get to see them the last few days before they died. We are just asking that they would declare one person in the family as essential so that we could get in and just be with our loved ones. If caregivers can go in and out, why can’t one family member?"
The event ended with Little sharing a printed resolution to open the state of Texas and restore the civil liberties of Texans.
"Let’s open Texas now," Little concluded.
Representatives and attendees then gathered around to sign their names to a resolution.