Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson Press Conference 3/16/2020
As you might be aware, we have another case of community spread of coronavirus in Dallas County. We have to expect that in the days ahead, we will have more such cases.
We must take action.
Accordingly, about an hour ago, I signed a new set of emergency regulations, which will become effective at midnight tonight, to help us slow the spread of coronavirus in Dallas.
Under these regulations, community gatherings in Dallas will be restricted to no more than 50 people.
The City of Dallas is also ordering the closing of all bars, lounges, taverns, night clubs, gyms and health clubs, theaters, and entertainment or amusement venues such as arcades and billiard halls.
Restaurants, for now, may remain open for drive-through, delivery, and take-out service. Dine-in service, however, will be prohibited.
Our city manager, T.C. Broadnax, will explain more of the intricacies momentarily. But what all this means is that, as of right now, Dallas has the most aggressive rules of all the major cities in Texas for minimizing and slowing the spread of COVID-19.
We are taking these actions now because our core responsibility as a government is to ensure the health, safety, and welfare of our residents.
And public health has been at the core of our discussions over the last 24 hours.
We made this decision in consultation with healthcare professionals. We received advice from the leaders of our hospitals and from Dr. Huang at Dallas County Health and Human Services, which is the city’s contracted public health authority.
In addition, we have looked to national experts and have received new guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The message we have heard has been consistent: Act early. Act aggressively. Act in the interest of public health first. Flatten the curve of this spread, and lives will be spared.
I want to be clear: While most cases of the coronavirus are mild, what we have seen across the world is that this disease is more lethal than the seasonal flu.
When I took the step last week of issuing a disaster declaration, I told you all that the economic consequences of this action were not lost on me. These further restrictions weighed heavily on me, as well. I understand the pain this decision will create.
Dallas has a robust and diverse economy that has grown in recent years. We have world-class event venues, theaters, and entertainment options. I love to tell people from out of town that Dallas is the reigning Bon Appetit Restaurant City of the Year.
We are proud of our service industry and our vibrant, diverse economy. But this is the time when we have to focus on the greatest asset we have: our people and our communities.
Your city government is taking the steps it deems necessary to flatten the curve of this global pandemic and save lives. And we are going to get through this because the people of Dallas are strong.
Take individual responsibility for ensuring we make it through this difficult time. As I have said repeatedly, practice good hygiene and social distancing. Wash your hands regularly with soap for 20 seconds. Cover your sneezes and coughs. Avoid crowds of any size, if at all possible. Quit shaking hands. Stay at home when you are sick.
Check in on your neighbors. Exchange contact information in your neighborhoods. If you know someone who is vulnerable, find ways to help them.
You might feel anxious that coronavirus seems to be out of your control, and you might feel resigned to it.
I understand. The fight against this disease will require some sacrifice. But what I know about this city, which I have called home for my entire life, is that Dallas does not bow to fear. Ever.
This is a city that, when faced with a challenge, comes together and shows the world we have the compassion, the resolve, the grit, and the grace to get through difficult times.
We all have parts to play in this fight. Today, we are playing our part by issuing these regulations. Now it is time for you to play yours. Be responsible. Be patient. Be generous. Be good to one another. And be bigger than yourself.
Thank you very much.
Summary Of Order From Judge Clay Jenkins
The virus that causes 2019 Coronavirus Disease (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. Because of the risk of the rapid spread of the virus, and the need to protect the most vulnerable members of the community, this Order prohibits community gatherings, of 50 persons or more anywhere in Dallas County beginning at 11:59 p.m. on March 16, 2020, and continuing through 11:00 a.m. on March 20, 2020, as defined by Section 3 herein. For all other gatherings, the Office of the Dallas County Judge and the Health Authority strongly recommends following the social distancing protocols attached to this Order, including canceling, rescheduling, or not attending events with more than 50 persons. The Office of the Dallas County Judge and the Health Authority also strongly urges individuals to cancel, reschedule, or not attend social gatherings that will have or will likely have 10 or more people. Additionally, the Office of the Dallas County Judge and the Health Authority urges in the strongest terms possible high-risk individuals, as defined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), to cancel, reschedule, or not attend any event.