Dallas County Expands Coronavirus Response

Mar 18, 2020

From Texas Standard:

On Wednesday morning, Dallas County reported 35 cases of COVID-19. Those infected range in age from teens to 70s. Three patients have been hospitalized.

Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins says his county continues to face a shortage of coronavirus testing kits. That is likely causing a five-to-seven-day lag in the number of reported cases matching the number of actual cases, he says.

"We have more testing capacity here than any other metro area, but even so, we're testing hundreds a day, not thousands a day at this point," Jenkins says. 

The number of so-called community spread cases is rising in the county. Those are cases unrelated to travel or to close contact with a family member or other  persons known to be infected who live in the same home. 

"We can't determine where they got it from. They got it somewhere out in the community," he says.

Jenkins says community spread of COVID-19 requires aggressive action by government, and by individuals. Dallas County recently ordered all bars to close, and limited restaurants to takeout orders only. He doesn't say whether the county plans for more drastic actions to limit residents' freedom of movement.

"At this point, we're not going to stop people from taking walks or going outside," Jenkins says.

Jenkins says he is considering changing curfew rules in Dallas County, as well as issuing orders that would prevent evictions and writs of possession during the next 60 days. 

Jenkins says payments to individuals or small businesses to help cover any financial losses from the pandemic would have to come from the federal government, not Dallas County. He says he hopes that kind of relief comes soon. 

"I'm a first-time elected official with this job, but I own small businesses," Jenkins says. "Everyone is hurting."

Written by Shelly Brisbin.