Now that we’re past the second weekend of economic re-openings, Dallas County’s health officials decided the public needed an easy-to-understand guide to figure out what is safe to do and what is not. They have turned to colors.
Judge Clay Jenkins revealed the guidance during a press conference Monday afternoon, following the announcement of another high of 253 cases. A panel of doctors selected by Dallas hospitals came up with the guidance, which includes recommendations for how to live your lives outside the home. Right now, we’re firmly in the red zone of “stay home, stay safe,” where there is a high community risk for transmission of COVID-19.
The county doesn’t think dining in a restaurant is safe. It doesn’t think getting a haircut is safe. It recommends limiting trips to once a week or as necessary. It wants you to consider waiting to purchase anything nonessential and avoid group settings. You won’t see the other colors—orange for a moderate risk, yellow for a low risk, and green for the new normal—until there is a two-week, sustained drop in hospital and ICU admissions as well as deaths.
“People are attacking test numbers and saying there are more tests out there than we know about, but ICU admissions, hospital admissions, and deaths, these are things that are really not disputed. And the hospitals can track these numbers,” Jenkins said. “Unfortunately we are at a point where we have not seen any decline. We’ve seen an increase in these numbers.”
Dr. Philip Huang, the head of Dallas County Health and Human Services, said that testing reports are “incomplete.” Jenkins said the federal government wants to remove by May 31 the 1,000 daily drive-thru tests that can be performed at the American Airlines Center and the Ellis Davis Field House. He said he’s still negotiating, and that more testing capacity is coming online through Kroger and Walmart. In the meantime, Jenkins will use hospital and death data to inform his guidance.
The judge is hopeful that we’re currently living in the peak of our COVID-19 cases, noting that the numbers have hung around 250 for the last seven or so days. But there are nerves, considering the governor opened up the economy before the sustained drop that many health experts recommend.
“Those things can change but there are a lot of people out there who want to know not just what can I do but what should I do?” Jenkins said. “It’s your decision, right?”
Make the right one. You can reference the guidance right here.