Leading Off

Leading Off (4/23/20)

Skies are clear. Not much else is.

The City of Dallas Extends Emergency Declaration Through May 12. City Council voted yesterday to extend the disaster declaration beyond the end of April, which gives them the ability to prolong the stay-at-home order, which is something a little different. As of Tuesday, Dallas County’s stay-at-home order currently lasts through May 15. The governor’s stay-at-home order expires at the end of April, but Greg Abbott told a couple of radio stations yesterday that he may announce eased restrictions on Monday, allowing hair salons, stores, restaurants, and movie theaters to reopen if they comply with as yet unspecified requirements. Maybe beaches, too. But Dallas County is different from Parker County, so who’s to say what they should each do? It’s all real clear, thanks to Councilwoman Jennifer Staubach Gates’ amendment, which ties the city’s declaration to the state’s — not the county’s — even though the two declarations are in fact different at the moment. Which makes it hard to understand why Mayor Eric Johnson apparently took a shot at the media for failing to report accurately.

Relief Package Includes Aid for Small Businesses and Tenants. Dallas City Council also passed some relief measures to help small businesses, including a $5 million fund to provide up to $10,000 in grants and $50,000 in low-cost loans for those that can show at least a 25 percent drop in revenue due to coronavirus-related restrictions. There’s also $6.1 million now available in rental and mortgage aid, and a new ordinance requires landlords to notify tenants of their eligibility for assistance and to give them at least 21 days to negotiate new payment agreements.

Testimony Continues Today on the Dallas County Jail’s Slow Response to the Outbreak. Nine inmates filed suit in federal court on April 9 alleging an inadequate response to the coronavirus outbreak in the Dallas County jail, and requesting the release of medically vulnerable detainees. As of Tuesday, 80 inmates and 19 jailers had tested positive for COVID-19. So far this week, detention officers have testified that they were advised not to wear masks so as not to “spook” the inmates, and in fact were not issued masks until after the lawsuit was filed. Officers also testified that they did not receive any training about appropriate safety measures, and as many as 64 inmates were sharing a single sink.

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