Dallas County unveils color coded system

Thursday’s Dallas County coronavirus case number at 235 makes it the 12th day since May 3 that reported cases were over 200.

During Monday’s briefing, Dallas County Jude Clay Jenkins unveiled a color coded system prepared by medical experts from area hospitals to help residents decide what activities they should do base on risk, despite what Gov. Greg Abbott’s orders say people can do.

“We unveiled a color coded system prepared by medical experts at area hospitals to help residents make choices about engaging in activities,” Jenkins said in a press release. “The document is called Dallas County COVID-19 Health Guidance for the Public. Our current status is red, which means residents should avoid crowds, maintain 6 feet of distance, wear a cloth covering at businesses or on public transportation as well as practice good hygiene. #StayHomeSaveLives is the best way to #FlattenTheCurve.”

The red is defined as “stay home, stay safe.” From there the system goes to orange – extreme caution; yellow – proceed carefully; and green – the new normal until there’s a vaccine.

The Dallas County COVID-19 Health Guidance for the Public color coded system helps people decide what activities they should do by categorizing businesses/activities base on risk of community transmission. Since Dallas County is currently in the red, this means there’s a high risk of community transmission, and it’s advised that people limit their trips to the grocery stores and avoid crowds.

With a 14-day decline, the county could move into the orange/moderate community risk for transmission and this opens up other activities with precautions. From there, yellow is low community risk for transmission and green is the new normal risk for transmission.

During Thursday’s briefing, Jenkins unveiled the Stay Safe Business program, something he worked on with the business community and is voluntary.

He stated that there are two steps to it. The first is businesses taking the pledge to take safety precautions to protect their employees, and the second is to receive a recommendation from local health authorities. That recommendation is based on the type of activity/service their business offers and the risk of community spread that activity may pose (color coded system). 

As an example, Jenkins stated that public health authorities recommend not taking vacations until the risk is in the yellow; therefore businesses in travel/tourism would fall into this category and it would be safer for people to travel when the county is in the yellow (low risk of transmission/proceed carefully).

Dr. Philip Huang, director of Dallas County Health and Human Services, stated that for the county to move from red to orange they would need to see a decline in emergency room visits for suspected COVID-19; new ICU admissions for suspected COVID-19; suspected COVID-19 Medsurg admissions; lab confirmed COVID-19 Medsurg hospitalization; and lab confirmed COVID-19 ICU hospitalizations.

“What we’re looking for is 14 days of decline in these indicators and then we can move to the next level – orange, but thus far we have not seen that,” he said.

The color coded system can be found at dallascountycovid.org.

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