DALLAS – Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins issued a Declaration of Local Disaster for Public Health Emergency on March 12, due to novel coronavirus now designated SARS-CoV2, which causes the disease COVID-19.
During a Monday press conference he announced that since coronavirus (COVID-19) is “easily transmitted through person to person contact, especially in group settings, and it is essential that the spread of the virus be slowed to protect the ability of public and private health care providers to handle the influx of new patients and safeguard public health and safety” he was ordering the prohibition of community gatherings of 50 persons or more anywhere in Dallas County. This prohibition was to begin at 11:59 p.m. on March 16. The order will continue until 11 a.m. March 20, at which time it could be extended.
Jenkins strongly urged individuals to cancel, reschedule or not attend social gatherings that could have more than 10 in attendance.
He also advised in the case that gatherings were taking place participants should follow social distancing protocols.
Additionally, restaurants with or without drive-in or drive-through services and microbreweries, micro-distilleries or wineries are only allowed to provide take out, delivery or drive-through services as allowed by law. Bars, lounges, taverns or arcades and private clubs were to be closed. Along with the Dallas County Department of Health and Human Services he said organizations that serve high-risk populations should cancel all gatherings until further notice.
It was noted that an outdoor “Community Gathering” under this order is limited to events in confined outdoor spaces. This means an outdoor space that is enclosed by a fence, physical barrier or other structure where people are present and within six feet of one another for extended periods.
Spaces where 50 or more people are in transit or waiting for transit such as airports, bus stations or terminals were not part of the order, as well as office space, schools, residential buildings, grocery stores, shopping malls or other retail establishments, not including restaurants with and without drive-in or drive-through services, microbreweries, microdistilleries or wineries, bars, lounges, or taverns, and private clubs were not part of the order nor were hospitals and medical facilities.
If someone in a household has tested positive for coronavirus, the household has been ordered to isolate at home. Members of the household cannot go to work, school or any other community function.
Nursing homes, retirement and long-term care facilities were instructed by this order to prohibit non-essential visitors from accessing their facilities unless to provide critical assistance or for end-of-life visitation. Public and private schools and institutions of higher education were instructed to provide a safety plan to Dallas County Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Management 72 hours before students return to a classroom setting.
Jenkins implored the public to do what needs to be done since even though Dallas County and the City of Dallas have put these restrictions in place, surrounding counties have not.
Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson said much of the same during his press conference Monday afternoon.
The City of Dallas regulations were created in accordance with Johnson’s disaster declaration, which was authorized by the Texas Local Government Code.
Philip Huang, Director of Dallas County Health and Human Services, said all individuals should avoid visiting hospitals and medical facilities. He advised to call your health care provider before visiting a hospital or a medical facility.
There were also questions about DART services and the safety of that mode of transportation. Jenkins said he knows “DART is working hard to keep the transportation system clean.”
As of Tuesday, Dallas County had five new cases reported bringing the total to 19. Tarrant County reportedly has a total of six cases including one community spread with Collin County having eight cases and Denton County having one case.