Denton County Judge Andy Eads on Friday issued a disaster declaration for the county, effective immediately, in response to growing concerns of COVID-19, or the novel coronavirus.

The declaration will remain in effect until March 20 unless extended by the commissioner’s court.

While there are no positive cases of coronavirus in the county, the declaration provides several recommendations to help stop the spread of the virus. Among those is to cancel large public gatherings of more than 250 people.

Eads also encouraged residents to go to their primary care physician or urgent care center if they want to be tested for coronavirus.

“Hospital visits should be reserved for people who are urgently ill,” Eads said.

He asked residents to be conservative when purchasing sanitary items that have been hard to find.

“In light of recent shortages in consumables such as hand sanitizers and other household necessities I’m asking that our Denton County citizens be thoughtful and generous in their consumption activities,” Eads said.

Eads said the declaration was issued because of its adjacency to Dallas County, which announced Thursday it has “community spread” in the county. One resident who has a presumptive case has not traveled, according to Dallas County officials.

Denton County Public Health is monitoring 28 individuals for the coronavirus, according to health officials.

Jennifer Rainey, public information officer for the health department, said these 28 residents have met the guidance for active monitoring based on their recent travels or their known exposure to someone who has a confirmed case of coronavirus.

Rainey said there have not been any confirmed cases of the coronavirus in Denton County.

Rainey said there is a distinction between active monitoring and self-monitoring. Active monitoring includes symptom screening and regular communication with DCPH.

Rainey said the department does not have a breakdown of what cities the active-monitored individuals live in.

In addition, Rainey said, there are likely others in the county who voluntarily decided to self-monitor or self-quarantine either because they traveled to a region with a known coronavirus outbreak or have been exposed to someone with a confirmed case.

“Self-monitoring allows for you to readily identify symptoms and self-isolate if symptoms develop,” Rainey said. “Symptoms of COVID-19 include fever, cough and difficulty breathing. Should you develop symptoms and be concerned regarding exposure to COVID-19, DCPH encourages you to call your doctor before presenting to the office for testing, as this will allow the facility to prepare to minimize exposures.”

Thursday, Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins said coronavirus is now a "community spread" in Dallas County and enacted an emergency order that prohibits community gatherings of 500 people or more in the county beginning 11 a.m. Friday and extending until 11 a.m. March 20.

This is in response to five more presumptive positive cases of coronavirus being reported in the county.

Jenkins also filed a declaration of local disaster for public health emergency.

Jenkins said the five cases are in addition to the three presumptive cases that were previously announced. He said four of the individuals live in the city of Dallas, and one lives in Balch Springs.

He said the cases involve a woman in her 70s, a man in his 40s, a man in his 50s, a man in his 60s and a woman in her 60s.

Jenkins said one of the patients had no travel history, domestic or international.

“This indicates that we have community spread of COVID-19 in Dallas County,” Jenkins said.

Jenkins said two of the five are hospitalized, and three are quarantined at home.

Jenkins said he, county officials and health officials encourage following social distancing protocols such as avoiding, canceling or rescheduling gatherings of 250 people or more. They also encourage people considered high risk to avoid, cancel or reschedule events that will have 10 or more people.

Friday, the fifth case of coronavirus was reported in Collin County. Tuesday three Frisco residents – a father, his wife and one of their four children – had the first confirmed cases in North Texas.

The father, in his 30s, was believed to have been exposed to the virus during a business trip to California in late February, did not show any symptoms while flying home, and officials said he did not pose a risk to others who were on the same plane. Health officials confirmed that both of the family’s school-age children did not have symptoms and were not contagious at any time while they attended school.

Tuesday, Dallas County Health and Human Services (DCHHS) reported its first presumptive positive case of the coronavirus, a 77-year-old man. DCHHS stated the man is an out-of-state traveler with extensive travel history and is being treated at a Dallas-area hospital.

By Wednesday two more presumptive cases in the county had been reported.

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