Dallas County Stay-at-Home Order Extended to April 30—And We Don’t Know How Far the Virus Has Spread| 1 day ago
Editor’s Note: After the meeting, County Judge Clay Jenkins amended the order to extend the shelter-in-place rule only until April 30. Originally, it was set for May 20. The story below has been adjusted.
Dallas County extended its existing disaster declaration until May 20 during its Friday meeting, with its shelter-in-place order lasting through at least April 30. The stay-at-home ruling can be extended if necessary, but County Judge Clay Jenkins wanted Dallas County to work in tandem with the state’s current order, which expires April 30, according to chief of staff Lauren Trimble.
The disaster declaration limits the size of gatherings and the types of businesses that can remain open. Shelter in place requires residents to stay at home except for essential travel.
Yet again, Dallas has established the most stringent rules for its residents of any county in the state of Texas, securing a consensus vote that included Republican County Commissioner J.J. Koch. Expect our neighbors to follow suit, if not the governor. (On Friday, Commissioner John Wiley Price was the only ‘no’ vote, arguing that the economic hardships were hurting his southern Dallas constituents. The Dallas Morning News covered the meeting well.)
Have these measures worked to slow the spread of coronavirus? It’s hard to say. Jenkins hopes it has. At his nightly press conference on Thursday, he noted that the cases confirmed each day—more than 100 on both Wednesday and Thursday, and we learned of another 90 on Friday—are delayed because of the virus’s lengthy incubation time.
“We see the benefit of [staying at home] two weeks later, because the 100 cases that tested positive today, those cases got exposed two weeks ago,” Jenkins said. “So you won’t immediately see the benefit of the whole state being in stay at home and you won’t necessarily see it in a sheer number fashion. The numbers won’t immediately go down. We know we’re at the front of the curve.”
The New York Times published two maps this week that showed the average distance traveled by residents the week of March 23 and tracked the ascending line for total transmissions and death rates. Dallas is indeed at the beginning of the curve, climbing the stairs up to its peak. And who knows where that peak will be?
Jenkins on Thursday night was encouraged by the travel map. North Texas was gray, meaning more people weren’t traveling than in other parts of the state. There are many reasons for this: rural Texans don’t have the luxury of a Kroger at the end of their block or delivery services. They have to move. But Jenkins sees that gray and breathes a bit. He lobbied for extending the shelter-in-place order at the behest of the DFW Hospital Council, which has also advocated for similar statewide policies. They and other experts contend that staying home is the best way not to overrun our hospital systems, giving providers the space to treat all who need it.Read More