Denton County Public Health announced 15,402 county residents were currently infected with the coronavirus Monday.
That broke the countywide record for the entire pandemic, the previous record of 15,387 having been set on Jan. 29, 2021.
DCPH on Monday also confirmed another six locals had died of COVID-19, which raised the countywide total to 684. The department released the following information about them:
One staffed adult intensive care unit bed was unoccupied across all of Denton County Monday afternoon, according to DCPH. Roughly 64% of beds were occupied by somebody with COVID-19.
Data included in the chart below is from Denton County Public Health. Data for the rolling average chart below comes from DCPH and an analysis from the Denton Record-Chronicle.
In a return to the roots of its COVID-19 response, DCPH has resumed free COVID-19 testing, beginning with Tuesday’s testing clinic at the Denton County Morse Street Facility parking lot, 3900 Morse St. Interested residents must register in advance at DentonCounty.gov/COVID19testing, and eligibility is limited to people who have at least one symptom of the virus, including:
DCPH will be administering PCR tests, for which a clinician will use a swab to collect a specimen from the nose. About 48 hours after the test is taken, the results will be viewable online. The department has not yet announced any future testing clinics.
Hundreds of family members, friends and co-workers gathered at First Baptist Church in Lewisville Monday afternoon for the funeral service of Denton County Fire Marshal Roland Asebedo, who died last week of complications from COVID-19.
Born in 1965 in Lockney, Asebedo graduated from Silverton High School in 1983. He would go on to spend over 30 years in emergency services, earning certifications for firefighter master, arson investigator master and inspector master from the Texas Commission on Fire Protection.
Asebedo worked in several emergency service capacities and with several different agencies, including in Plainview, Highland Village, Coppell and, starting in 2004, Denton County. He was first hired as an emergency management intern before being promoted to emergency management planner. Since 2005, he’d been the county’s assistant director of emergency services before being promoted last October to fire marshal and director of development and emergency services.
Asebedo, 56, was highly regarded by his county co-workers for his work ethic and positive demeanor. At last week’s Commissioners Court meeting, after his death was announced, Denton County Public Health Director Matt Richardson recalled one of his attempts to beat Asebedo to an early-morning vaccination clinic — which ended in failure despite setting his alarm for 3:55 a.m.
County Judge Andy Eads, speaking Monday at Asebedo’s funeral, had many of his own stories to share. Whether it was his response to a loose elephant at a circus or a co-worker who needed to get in the office after midnight, each story had something in common.
“Roland Asebedo is a man like no other — a man with humility, yet a sense of higher purpose to protect and care for others,” Eads said. “A man who always put everyone first before himself, any time, anywhere.”
Able Asebedo, Roland’s brother, said they talked every day, whether for a minute or for 20. He said he remembers Roland as “the best brother in the world,” — as well as for his public service and the way he always treated others with respect, regardless of their status.
“He loved helping people and there were one or two instances in Silverton when we had some bad fires, and it bothered him, but it didn’t keep him from going on,” Able Asebedo said in a phone interview. “It didn’t matter what promotion he got, he could see the lowest person on the street and he would visit with them.”
Able had a lesson, too, that people should take from Roland’s life and career.
“Whatever field you’re in, just push it as much as you can and try to do the best you can,” Able Asebedo said. “And don’t forget the people that are your friends. Treat them right.”
Roland Asebedo is survived by his wife, Michele “Mickey” Asebedo of Sanger; daughter, Lorrin Asebedo of Denton; son, Jordan Asebedo of The Colony; mother, Mary Asebedo of Silverton; brother, Able Asebedo of Silverton; sister, Marilyn Leal of Pottsboro, and several aunts, uncles, nephews, nieces and cousins. He was preceded in death by his father, Johnny Asebedo, and sister, Venita Howell.
At least one local school was left without soap dispensers after a TikTok trend swept across the campus this past week.
The trend shows students committing “devious licks” — minor but difficult thefts — on school property.
Many videos show people having stolen soap dispensers, paper towel dispensers and other school items, mostly from bathrooms. Other videos show bathroom stall walls missing or intentionally clogged toilets.
The national trend, which began sometime around Sept. 1, found its way to Denton County over the past couple of weeks. An email from Denton ISD officials to Navo Middle School families on Sept. 13 asked that parents speak to their children about how serious theft is.
“We encourage all parents to send their students to school with soap to wash their hands starting tomorrow, as our bathrooms are now void of soap dispensers, paper towels and the majority of them continue to be vandalized on a daily basis,” the Navo email to parents continued.
Jeff Russell, area superintendent over the zone that includes Navo, said some students, especially younger kids, think the theft and vandalism is funny and not serious.
“Just because this is on social media does not mean this is socially acceptable,” Russell said Friday.
Russell and Julie Zwahr, a Denton ISD spokesperson, said the thefts and vandalism aren’t confined to Navo, but they did not specify how many campuses had experienced the effects of the devious licks trend, though Russell said elementary, middle and high schools had been affected.
“I think it’s fair to say we’ve had incidences — a handful of incidences — on campuses across the district,” Zwahr said Friday.
An Argyle ISD spokesperson emailed a prepared statement in response to interview requests on Friday.
Included were comments from Superintendent Telena Wright urging parents to help the district stamp out the trend.
Also included was a message sent to Argyle ISD parents.
“Argyle Middle School and Argyle High School students have been involved in this destructive behavior and future actions of this nature will result in school or legal consequences,” the message read. “Some of these student actions include destroying soap dispensers, intentionally clogging toilets, taking clocks from walls and removing items from classrooms/hallways.”
These sorts of disruptive shenanigans edging into the realm of illegality aren’t new to American public schools. The difference is the self-incrimination.
“The difference here is filming it,” Russell said.
TikTok this past week took down many references to the devious licks trend, but videos continue to circulate widely on other social media platforms.
“Students are not only filming themselves and others [taking parts in this trend], we have security footage on all the campuses,” Zwahr said.
District officials have so far kept punishments for the acts in-house instead of involving law enforcement. Investigations into culprits have been fairly straightforward so far, Zwahr and Russell said.
Students typically film and upload videos of their crimes, and hallway cameras typically capture their getaway. Plus, Zwahr said, it’s easy to know when to be on the lookout “when you hear a loud noise of a soap dispenser being ripped off a wall and see a kid running out.”
Russell said punishments laid out in the student code of conduct vary from detention to alternative school placements based upon the level of damage caused.
As of Friday, Zwahr said Denton ISD’s Deputy Superintendent Scott Niven hadn’t been contacted with damage estimates.
Denton residents will have a chance to host neighborhood parties for community members to meet with Denton Fire and Police Department staff as well as other departments on National Night Out on Oct. 5.
The nationwide community-building event typically takes place on the first Tuesday in August, but Texas and a few other states hold out until October. The local event was canceled last year because of COVID-19 but will pick right up on Thursday with a kickoff event.
“It’s all about community,” said Amy Cunningham, a spokesperson for the Police Department. “We encourage folks to gather with their neighbors and get to know those around them on this night. It’s also a good opportunity for residents to know the first responders who serve their communities. A lot of times you only see firefighters and police officers on your worst day, so this is a positive opportunity to get to know the people who are actively in your area serving.”
Texas waits until fall for National Night Out events because the weather is a little cooler, Cunningham said.
Justin Harmon, the city’s public affairs communications manager, said the kickoff party at the Denton Civic Center is an opportunity for residents to meet with city staff and other neighbors. City spokesperson Ryan Adams added the event on Thursday is also an opportunity for people who don’t live in participating neighborhoods to still get the National Night Out experience.
“We will have some carnival games set up, inflatables, hot dogs, face paintings,” said Jennifer Eusse, the special events supervisor for the Parks and Recreation Department.
Between 16 and 20 department booths will be set up, she said, and department vehicles, such as fire trucks and solid waste hazmat trucks, will be parked for people to tour, as well.
On Oct. 5, from 6-9 p.m., Texas neighborhoods will host their community gatherings, which Cunningham said can range from barbecues to basketball games at local parks.
“It’s really up to the neighborhoods how they want to celebrate National Night Out,” Cunningham said. “We encourage everyone to register at cityofdenton.com/nno by Friday. The registration deadline is so we know where to send staff and fire trucks because we want enough time to adequately schedule everybody out.”
When registering, Cunningham said interested residents can select which city departments they want represented at their local gathering.
“Folks can select what department they want to come out to their event so we don’t limit it just to police and fire,” she said.
The city wants this year’s event to resemble the inaugural event from 2019 as much as possible, Adams said. The main thing that will be different is this year’s event will be held outside the Denton Civic Center and at Quakertown Park rather than indoors to address COVID-19 concerns.
“Our goal was to make sure we could still kind of capture that family-friendly-embodying atmosphere,” Adams said.
The kickoff event Thursday is open to the public from 5-8 p.m at the Denton Civic Center, 321 E. McKinney St.