A Tale Of Two Counties In A Pandemic
WAXAHACHIE – Ellis County Judge Todd Little and Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins are in the exact positions in bordering counties. The two judges could not see things more differently though when it comes to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Jenkins is supporting Governor Abbott’s latest mandate to limit gatherings to 10 or less and fine businesses who do not require patrons to wear masks. Also, as hospitalizations in Dallas County continue rising, Jenkins is asking Abbott for more restrictions.
However, Judge Little said he considers an individual’s personal liberty and just will not make the same mandates.
Last Friday, Judge Little signed a proclamation overriding Abbott’s amended order stating Ellis County would allow gatherings of 10 or more.
Faith In the Residents of Ellis County
“It is the responsibility of Ellis County to come together during these unprecedented times and take precautionary action to protect the health of our community,” Judge Little said. “I have good faith in the Ellis County citizens to exercise wisdom and sound judgement while celebrating their liberties and independence as Texans this Fourth of July weekend.”
While everyone in the county and beyond recommends residents practice physical distancing while in public, wear a mask, and sanitize to help mitigate the risks of COVID-19, Judge Little said he does not see himself mandating masks and limiting gatherings in the county anytime soon.
“I think as a judge you can’t make pre-judgements,” he said. “I would put my feet on the ground and say I am probably not going to change my mind though. Obviously, intelligence means you remain flexible and listen to the professionals and you watch citizens and use wisdom in your decisions. However, at this point I am leaning toward not changing my mind as county judge.”
While there is currently no end date to the recent order by Governor Abbott mandating groups of 10 or less and other minor changes since Texas COVID numbers are so high, Little concluded “We [in Ellis County] will utilize and renew as much as we need to as to the Governor’s Order and we will correlate it accordingly.”
Ellis County Has Room In Their Hospitals
And, while according to reports, hospitals are filling up around the state. Judge Little said that is not the case in Ellis County.
“Right now, our capacity is very well with ICU beds with negative pressure rooms and what I would call intensive care level beds,” he explained. “Our capacity has been below 50% for many weeks. Now that could change overnight if Dallas and Baylor start filling up and they start transferring patients to Baylor Waxahachie.”
Little said he supports personal liberties. He will always side on not wearing masks or not mandating wearing masks for his residents.
“Even though I am married to an RN she believes that is going too far as well,” he added. “Yes, we do have to use wisdom and precautions. And yes, we must be intelligent like Ellis County citizens are and we must do what is best for our families, loved ones and neighbors.”
In the case of an Order coming down from the President, Judge Little said in that case, orders could change.
“The question is whether I would have the ability to not follow the president’s order since county government is below federal government. I think we would have to look at the rule of law there as to what my ability is as county judge would be.”
Ellis County Commissioner Paul Perry said he wants an attorney to challenge Abbott
Ellis County Commissioner, Precinct 3 Paul Perry said last week on his Facebook page regarding Abbott’s Order that “Any attorney willing to think about a challenge to the Governor’s face covering edict please contact me privately.”
Later he said that it could still easily take up to six months to get something like that together, but there are other things residents can do.
As well, he said regarding personal responsibility “If you think you are ill stay home. You should keep your distance from folks and especially folks who are not part of your normal circle. And you should get on with your life because life is here to be lived and we should not be operating like we are under siege. People can only handle so much of that and I think it is time to give people a break. Celebrate life and enjoy the fact that we have been given that gift.”
Perry went on to say “We do not have good statistics on how many people have been infected with COVID-19. The CDC recently did a study where they surveyed our blood banks and they determined that 20 to 26 million Americans have already been infected so we really don’t know what works as far as preventing an infection.”
Perry said he believes people need to realize that COVID-19 appears to be losing its lethality.
“There are still serious cases and people are going to have problems,” he added “but the statistics do not support being overly scared or concerned even if you do contract the virus. If you do contract the virus you need to isolate yourself and take the appropriate steps not to involve others. At the same time, this virus is not as deadly for whatever reason as it appeared to be at first.”
And the show went on in Midlothian for the 4th of July too
Midlothian Mayor Richard Reno also overrode the Governor’s Order. Midlothian allowed the city’s Independence Day Parade and Fireworks show to be held over the weekend. There were a few notable parade modifications. The city also reminded residents to minimize contact with others. And to follow social distancing requirements for healthy and safety reasons.
Glenn Heights Mayor Pro Tem said think of others during the pandemic
Glenn Heights Mayor Pro Tem Sonja A. Brown said on Friday before the July 4th holiday that she recommends residents wear a mask in public. She also donned a mask herself during our interview.
Brown said it is certainly a matter of health and safety. She says it’s also about protecting others that could be nearby. Wearing a mask protects others who do have health issues that could be compromised if exposed to COVID-19.