By ROBYN H. JIMENEZ
The Dallas Examiner
County Judge Clay Jenkins issued a “Stay Home Stay Safe” order, also known as a shelter in place order, due to the rapid spread of the 2019 novel coronavirus, during a Sunday evening news conference. The order went into effect Monday at 11:59 p.m. and will continue through April 3. The order is expected to be extended.
The order mandated that everyone living in Dallas County maintain safety and shelter in their place of residence, and leave only for essential activities, to provide or perform essential governmental functions or to operate essential businesses.
The purpose of the order is to slow the spread of COVID-19 in order to protect the ability of public and private health care providers to handle the influx of new patients and safeguard public health and safety.
“The goal of this order is never to exceed our hospital capacity, and to minimize the catastrophic outcome we’re seeing in other countries because they waited too long,” Jenkins explained. The simple truth is that the numbers tell me that we must act swiftly. We’re headed to a point of no return if we continue to doddle. While I know what we must do, the powers at my disposal can’t do it without all of you.”
Jenkins noted that there were several business owners who expressed great concern about being shut down for an unknown period of time, calling it an over-reaction.
“I’ve found plenty of business owners that feel that way, and I respect you and I hate this. But I haven’t been able to find a doctor – you know, you can usually find an expert on each side of everything. But at least the doctors that work in the five major hospitals in North Texas are pretty clear on what we need to do.”
He then countered with the consequences of not issuing the order.
“We are the largest metro area in Texas. We have the largest number of cases in Texas. We have the largest amount of community spread in Texas. And we have the largest amount of uninsured people of any metro area in the United States,” he explained. “A quarter of a million people in Dallas County work for a living, but can’t afford health insurance, and don’t have that afforded to them by the state of Texas like they do in California, Oregon and New York, because Texas didn’t take our share of the federal money for Medicaid Expansion. Those folks aren’t going to the doctor and if we don’t do something, it’s going to be very, very, very bad here.”
Mayor Eric Johnson agreed with the urgency of the order, putting lives ahead of economics.
“While this approach likely means our city will experience economic difficulties, our top priority is public health,” he expressed. “And it’s vitally important that we take the steps necessary to save lives and prevent strain on our health care system.”
Jenkins went on to explain the urgency of everyone’s full compliance.
“If you don’t do everything you can do to make smart decisions – if those of you that don’t have health care don’t find some way, we’re going to move heaven and earth to help you to get these tests,” he trailed off then digressed. “When you’re sick, if you don’t take care of yourself and you don’t keep social distance, then its going to be very, very bad here.”
The county judge paused shortly to inform the public that, with school and business closings, the county has seen a spike in child abuse due to the financial stress and stress of being in close quarters brought on the pandemic. He stated that children would be a first priority during this critical time, and warned that this would be the worse time to hurt a child.
The order outlined businesses that meet that exception to include the following:
Essential health care operations
Hospitals, clinics, dentists, pharmacies, pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies, other health care facilities, health care suppliers, mental health providers, substance abuse service providers, blood banks, medical research, laboratory services, or any related and/or ancillary health care services.
Essential government functions
All services provided by local governments needed to ensure the continuing operation of the government agencies to provide for the health, safety and welfare of the public.
Essential critical infrastructure
Work necessary to the operations and maintenance of the 16 critical infrastructure sectors as identified by the National Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Agency including public works construction, residential and commercial construction, airport operations, water, sewer, gas, electrical, oil refining, roads and highways, public transportation, solid waste collection and removal, internet, and telecommunications systems, financial institutions, defense and national security-related operations, essential manufacturing operations provided that they carry out those services or that work in compliance with social distancing requirements of 6-feet, to the extent possible.
Grocery stores, warehouse stores, big-box stores, bodegas, liquor stores, gas stations, convenience stores, farmers’ markets that sell food products and household staples.
Providers of basic necessities to economically disadvantaged populations
Businesses that provide food, shelter, and social services, and other necessities of life for economically disadvantaged or otherwise needy individuals.
Essential services necessary to maintain essential operations of residences or other essential businesses
Trash and recycling collection, processing and disposal, mail and shipping services, building cleaning and maintenance, warehouse/distribution and fulfillment, storage for essential businesses, funeral homes, crematoriums and cemeteries. Plumbers, electricians, exterminators, and other service providers who provide services that are necessary to maintaining the safety, sanitation, and essential operations of residences and Essential Businesses. Professional services, such as legal or accounting services, when necessary to assist in compliance with legally mandated activities. Businesses that supply other essential businesses with the support of supplies needed to operate
Newspapers, television, radio, and other media services.
Childcare facilities providing services that enable employees exempted in this order to work as permitted.
Dallas Area Rapid Transit, taxis and ride shares.
Businesses closed during the order:
All elective medical, surgical, and dental procedures are prohibited anywhere in Dallas County. Hospitals, ambulatory surgery centers, dental offices, and other medical facilities are directed to identify procedures that are deemed “elective” by assessing which procedures can be postponed or cancelled based on patient risk considering the emergency need for redirection of resources to COVID-19 response.
All other businesses operating within Dallas County are expected to cease activities.
The entire can be found at https://www.dallasexaminer.com – click on Coronavirus Local, State and National Updates.
You can also click on https://dallasexaminer.com/coronavirus/county-judge-clay-jenkins-issues-stay-home-stay-safe-for-all-dallas-county-residents.