As of this morning, Dallas County reported another 21 new cases of COVID-19, bringing the total reported cases in the county to 95.
According to Dallas County Health and Human Services (DCHHS), of the cases reported to date, over 40 percent now have no history of recent travel outside of Texas or no known close contact with a confirmed case, indicating community transmission locally.
“Community spread is accelerating rapidly but not as fast as it would without the way this community is stepping up,” said Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins. “The responsible actions of the people of Dallas County are helping to slow the spread of the virus. That’s critical for the healthcare supply chain and vaccination work to catch up and for our healthcare system to not be overwhelmed with patients. #StayCalmStayHome #FlattenTheCurve.”
Dallas County officials held a press conference earlier this evening to go over more amendments to its emergency declaration orders, which goes into effect at 11:59 p.m. tonight.
In summary, the March 21 amended order changes prohibit public or private recreational and community gatherings anywhere in Dallas County.
Restaurants with or without drive-in or drive-through services and microbreweries, micro-distilleries, or wineries may only provide take out, delivery, or drive-through services as allowed by law.
Bars, lounges, taverns, private clubs, arcades, bowling alleys, theaters, gyms, fitness centers, gymnastics studios, and martial arts studios shall close.
Massage parlors, nail salons, hair salons, barber shops, beauty salons, hair removal services, spas, tattoo and piercing parlors, and all other non-medical, personal care services that cannot be provided while maintaining six feet of distance shall close.
Dallas County Tax Offices and passport offices shall close for in-person services.
All elective medical, surgical, and dental procedures are prohibited anywhere in Dallas County. Hospitals, ambulatory surgery centers, dental offices, and other medical facilities are directed to identify procedures that are deemed "elective" by assessing which procedures can be postponed or cancelled based on patient risk considering the emergency need for redirection of resources to COVID-19 response.
The order also places a limit on the sale of toilet paper. All sales of toilet paper occurring in Dallas County are limited to the greater of 12 rolls per purchase or one package per purchase.
“This was done in direct consultation with the Retailers Association because some of us have not moved from selfishness to sacrifice,” said Judge Jenkins.
He noted that some people are still hoarding toilet paper and reselling them on Ebay, so manufacturers have moved to making six-packs because it’s the fastest they can make.
“There’s not a supply chain problem with the toilet paper, folks, we are the problem with the toilet paper,” he said. “Shoppers are the problems with the toilet paper. The hope of this is that we’ll do this for about two weeks and then we can relax that.”
Jenkins also said that if people need to use something other than toilet paper to dispose of it other than flushing, because those products were not made to be flushed and will clog pipes.
The order also requires individuals using shared outdoor spaces, such as public parks or trails, to maintain at least six feet of space from any other person at all times.
Jenkins said people might be ticketed if they don’t keep at least six feet of space between them and any other person.
“The goal of the order, the goal of the social distancing are really to slow the spread of this and one of the key things we’re trying to do is to protect the healthcare system,” said Dr. Philip Huang, director DCHHS, in a Wednesday press conference.
During the Wednesday, March 18, press conference, Jenkins stated he asked the Justice of the Peace to suspend all evictions of any type and all writs of possession for at least the next 60 days to prevent renters from being displaced and to prevent the potential spread of COVID-19.
“We can ill afford to have people couch surfing or homeless at a time when the safest way to keep us all safe is for people to limit their trips out of their homes, and to do that they have to have a home,” he said.
During tonight’s press conference he stated Dallas County is working with utility companies to make sure no one’s service is disrupted and have asked the governor and Public Utility Commission to stop utility cut-off.
On a more positive note, Jenkins stated that a North Texas distillery has shifted to making hand sanitizers.
“We will receive our first shipment tomorrow (March 22) from BENDT Distilling of Lewisville,” he said. “BENDT Distilling is the first of what I hope will be many distilleries who have stopped making liquor and started making hand sanitizer for first responders.”
Jenkins also made a callout to the business community.
“We cannot wait any longer for the retooling of manufacturing to build more PPEs and more ventilators,” he said. “North Texas, you are amazing, our business community is amazing; together you can do anything. We have to have garment manufacturers step up, retool and make PPEs for our first responders and our healthcare heroes. If those folks get sick there’s nobody to take care of the rest of you when you get sick. So we’ve got to protect them.”
This order will continue through April 3, or until it is either rescinded, superseded, or amended pursuant to applicable law.