Update: 30 cases of coronavirus in Denton County as Dallas County orders its residents to stay home

Flower Mound Mayor Steve Dixon is set to extend the disaster declaration related to the novel coronavirus March 20. (Photo by Anna Herod/Community Impact Newspaper)
Flower Mound Mayor Steve Dixon is set to extend the disaster declaration related to the novel coronavirus March 20. (Photo by Anna Herod/Community Impact Newspaper)

Flower Mound Mayor Steve Dixon is set to extend the disaster declaration related to the novel coronavirus March 20. (Photo by Anna Herod/Community Impact Newspaper)

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(Courtesy Adobe Stock)
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Here is the latest news on the coronavirus in Denton County. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
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Here is the latest news on the coronavirus in Denton County. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
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Denton County Public Health has confirmed the second travel-related coronavirus case in Denton County, according to a March 17 statement from officials. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
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Denton County Judge Andy Eads signed a disaster declaration in regard to the coronavirus March 13. (Courtesy Denton County)
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Dr. Matt Richardson, director of Denton County Public Health, and Denton County Judge Andy Eads met last week with local municipal officials to inform them of the latest information on the coronavirus. (Courtesy Denton County)
Editor's note: A new blog has been created for the week of March 23. Visit this link for the latest updates.

Updated at 8:50 p.m. March 22

Public health officials in Denton County reported six new confirmed cases of coronavirus. The total number of cases in the county is now 30, with five from Lewisville and one from Flower Mound.

Also on March 22, Dallas County ordered its residents to shelter in their place of residence from 11:59 p.m. March 23 through April 3 in an effort to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

"This order is our best chance to flatten the curve here in Dallas County and save as many lives as possible," Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins said during a news conference. "I know there will be economic hardship and business closures with this order, and it makes me sick that we are at this point."

Jenkins' order applies only to people who live in Dallas County. He said he is hoping his decision will influence some of the surrounding counties.

"There’s 2.7 million people in Dallas County, but there’s 7.6 million people in the metroplex,” Jenkins said. “This is going to spread across the state, and a month from now, ... nobody is going to be saying ‘Thank god I was able to go to work for one extra two weeks.’"

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At the state level, Texas' runoff primary election has been postponed until July 14. The primary was originally scheduled for May 26. Gov. Greg Abbott ordered March 20 that the runoff be moved as part of the state's efforts to reduce the spread of the coronavirus. Among the races on the runoff ballot is the one between MJ Hegar and Royce West. who are vying for the Democratic nomination to challenge U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas.

Updated 7:05 p.m. March 21

Denton County Public Health announced March 21 that nine additional coronavirus cases have been confirmed locally, bringing the county's total to 24.

Five of the 24 people who have been diagnosed with the virus are Lewisville residents. Eight of the county's cases resulted from local transmission, according to officials.

Updated 7:10 p.m. March 20

Denton County Public Health confirmed 6 new cases of the novel coronavirus March 20, bringing the total number of cases in the county to 15.

Four of the 15 people diagnosed with the virus are Lewisville residents, according to officials.

Lewisville City Council unanimously voted at a March 20 special meeting to extend its disaster declaration for a public health emergency.

In an effort to slow the spread of coronavirus, Denton County Transportation Authority announced that it has reduced its transportation services temporarily. Details can be found at the agency’s website.

Qualifying small businesses statewide are now eligible to apply for economic injury disaster loans through the U.S. Small Business Administration, according to a March 20 announcement by Gov. Greg Abbott. For more information on how to apply, visit www.sba.gov/disaster.

Updated 10:10 a.m. March 20

Flower Mound Mayor Steve Dixon is set to extend the town’s disaster declaration related to the novel coronavirus March 20.

The renewed declaration will expire April 20. Until then, the Flower Mound Public Library, Community Activity Center and Senior Center will remain closed.

At a March 19 special meeting, Flower Mound Town Council voted to postpone the May Town Council election to Nov. 3. This vote came after Gov. Greg Abbott encouraged local governments to reschedule upcoming elections in an effort to slow the spread of coronavirus.

Updated 5:40 p.m. March 19

Denton County Public Health officials have confirmed four more coronavirus cases in Denton County, bringing the local number of cases to nine, according to a March 19 news release.

Two patients, a female in her 50s and another in her 20s, are Lewisville residents. One of the cases is from local transmission whereas the other is travel-related. The patient in her 20s is under in-home isolation, and the other is in a local hospital.

The other two patients both have travel-related cases and are under in-home isolation. One is a Denton County resident in his 60s, and the other is a Frisco resident in his 40s.

Updated 10:30 a.m. March 19

Denton County Judge Andy Eads amended the county’s executive order for disaster declaration for public health emergency March 18 to enact more restrictions effective immediately, including the prohibition of dine-in services for restaurants, as local coronavirus cases continue to emerge.

The order will be in effect until 11 a.m. March 25.

“We are taking these mandatory aggressive measures now with the first case demonstrating community spread in Denton County,” Eads stated in a news release.

The new executive order:

  • Restricts all community gatherings across Denton County to 50 people or fewer.

  • Orders the closing of all bars, lounges, taverns, nightclubs, gyms and health clubs, theaters and entertainment or amusement venues. Restaurants, for now, may remain open for drive-thru, delivery, pickup and curbside service only. Dine-in service is prohibited.

  • Encourages landlords to not proceed with evictions.

  • Prohibits nonessential visitors from accessing nursing homes, retirement, short- and long-term unless the visit is to provide critical assistance or for end-of-life visitation.

  • Orders anyone who lives with someone who has tested positive for coronavirus to isolate at home for 14 days. Members of the household cannot go to work, school or any other community function.

  • Removes restrictions on delivery times to or from any entity involved in the selling or distribution of food products, medicine or medical supplies in Denton County for the next 60 days.

The decision to outline new countywide mandates came after three additional cases of the novel coronavirus were confirmed in Denton County March 17, bringing the total to five.

“We do not take these decisions lightly," Eads said. "However, we must act early, act decisively and act aggressively to flatten the curve in the community spread of this disease. These actions are meant to spare lives.”

Residents should contact county offices before visiting in person to schedule a visit or use services available through the county’s website, the release stated.

“I know that these restrictions will impact many of our residents and businesses,” Eads stated. “We want them to know that these measures are not being undertaken lightly and are being enacted solely with the health and well-being of all our residents in mind.”

Updated at 1:20 p.m. March 18

A Lewisville man in his 40s who is in critical condition is among three new people with confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus in Denton County, according to a March 18 news release.

The Lewisville resident is in isolation in a Denton County hospital after a local transmission, according to the release.

Two Frisco residents—a woman in her 50s and a man in his 20s—are both in home isolation after travel-related exposure.

Denton County Public Health is working to identify and contact individuals who may have been exposed by the patients.

“Now that we have evidence of local transmission, it’s even more important to follow social distancing and hygiene recommendations,” said Dr. Matt Richardson, the director of Denton County Public Health, in a statement.

Updated at 12:55 p.m. March 18

Lewisville will close all city facilities at 5 p.m. March 18, according to a news release.

Lewisville Learning Environmental Learning Area will remain open under reduced hours of operation from 9 a.m.-5 p.m.

The city’s police department has enacted temporary operation changes. Officers will continue to respond to public safety calls, but anyone reporting a property crime or a crime not in progress will be asked to do so online. Fingerprint services are suspended for the foreseeable future, and the Lewisville Police Department’s lobby is closed to the public.

The Flower Mound Police Department has adopted the same dispatch protocols and will only respond in person to public safety calls.

Updated at 11:45 a.m. March 18

Elections are encouraged to be suspended until Nov. 3 in Texas according to a proclamation by Gov. Greg Abbott March 18.

"Right now, the state's focus is responding to COVID-19—including social distancing and avoiding large gatherings. By delaying this election, our local election officials can assist in that effort,” Abbott said.

The governor has suspended multiple Texas codes, allowing for political subdivisions to delay their elections.

An election advisory with guidance for postponing elections has also been released by Texas Secretary of State Ruth Hughs.

Updated at 3:20 p.m. March 17

Denton County Public Health has confirmed the second travel-related coronavirus case in Denton County, according to a March 17 statement from officials.

The patient is a female in her 50s who lives in Prosper. She is currently in home isolation.

Health officials stated that epidemiologists are working to identify and contact any individuals who may have been exposed to the virus by the patient.

News of the second case comes after Denton County Commissioners Court formally approved a new disaster declaration at a March 17 meeting. Commissioners recommended the postponement or cancellation of all gatherings of 50 people or more.

“This morning’s newest disaster declaration and executive order provide recommendations to limit the spread of disease,” Denton County Judge Andy Eads stated. “Even more so now, with a second positive case within Denton County, we stress the importance of heeding these recommendations.”

Updated at 2:50 p.m. March 17

Lewisville ISD Superintendent Kevin Rogers announced that district schools will remain closed through April 3 due to the coronavirus.

Rogers stated in the March 17 announcement that families and employees should be prepared for the possibility of the district staying closed beyond that as public health officials continue to issue new guidance on social distancing and other precautionary measures to prevent the spread of the virus.

“The health and safety of our students, staff, and the community members in each of the communities we serve is at the forefront of our minds as we prepare to navigate the uncharted waters ahead,” Rogers stated. “We will continue monitoring COVID-19’s impact on our communities and depend on guidance from local and state health experts as we decide how to move forward.”

District officials are developing a framework so that education and instruction for students can continue through online sources and guided lessons, according to the announcement. More information is expected to be provided on those details by March 24.

Meals will be available for pickup for families who need them, Rogers stated in the announcement. Details about times and locations for pickup are still to be determined.

“I know we are in uncertain times, and many questions remain,” Rogers stated. “But in the face of that uncertainty, I am confident Lewisville ISD and the communities it serves will rise together to meet the needs of our students. I appreciate your support of our schools, our students, and our staff.”

Updated at 5 p.m. March 16

Highland Village Mayor Charlotte Wilcox signed a disaster declaration March 16 in response to public health concerns about the coronavirus.

The declaration, which will be in effect until March 23, formally prohibits public or private community gatherings of 250 people or more. Additionally, the city requested that residents cancel or postpone any gathering of 50 people or more.

Highland Village offices will remain open, but officials encourage residents to use city services online rather than in person.

The Robert & Lee DuVall Center is closed to the public until the disaster declaration expires, and all community programs are canceled, according to Highland Village officials. Refunds will be provided to those who have already signed up to participate.

Though a new date has not yet been determined, the city’s Kids Kastle Community Build has been postponed along with all other city recreation programs, classes, events and activities.

Updated at 12:35 p.m. March 16

Lewisville and Flower Mound have joined Denton County in moving forward with disaster declarations after the first presumptive positive, travel-related case of the novel coronavirus was identified in Denton County March 15.

Flower Mound’s declaration will last until March 22, though officials said it could be extended depending on how the situation develops. The declaration formally prohibits community gatherings of 250 people or more.

The Flower Mound Public Library, senior center and Community Activity Center closed March 14 and will remain closed while the declaration is in effect. Currently, no Flower Mound residents have been diagnosed with coronavirus, and none are presently being monitored or quarantined, according to officials.

“Since the public visits several town of Flower Mound facilities, town officials respectfully request anyone who has recently visited the countries with widespread, sustained transmission to not patronize town facilities for 14 days after their return,” the town stated in a written update. “Furthermore, if they recently have visited these countries, they should self-quarantine at their home for 14 days, according to the CDC recommendations.”

The city of Lewisville’s disaster declaration will be in effect until March 21, unless it is renewed.

Although Lewisville has not had any confirmed cases of coronavirus, out of caution, the city has closed the Senior Activity Center and canceled senior-focused recreational activities until March 30.

All Lewisville Public Library programs are canceled through March 21, but the library will remain open. City officials have recommended that residents postpone or cancel gatherings of 250 people or more until March 21.

“Even though no local cases of COVID-19 infection have been confirmed, these facility and program closures are recommended by public health officials as a way to slow the spread of this disease outbreak,” the city stated in a written update.

Lewisville ISD’s spring break began March 16 and will continue through March 20.

Amanda Brim, Lewisville ISD’s chief communication officer, said the district has not finalized any plans to extend spring break. However, district leaders are set to meet this week to make a final determination about the school’s schedule moving forward.

Parents and students can expect an update on that information on or before March 19, according to the district. All schools and buses are set to be cleaned during the break according to CDC recommendations.

According to a district update, extracurricular events, overnight trips and field trips scheduled for the school day are canceled through April 3.

District officials have asked students and employees who travel to China, Iran, Italy, South Korea or Japan over spring break to stay home for 14 days after they return. This also goes for any students or employees who go on a cruise over the break or any other countries added to the CDC’s Level 2 and 3 Travel Notice lists.

“LISD will work with each family or staff member impacted during this extended absence period to resolve any attendance issues,” the district stated in an update. “We will continue closely monitoring this situation, and will keep you informed with timely updates should anything change. The well-being of our students, families, staff and the communities we serve are always at the forefront of our decision-making process.”

Denton County Public Health launched a new call center March 16 for residents who need more information about the coronavirus. Residents can call the center at 940-349-2585 on weekdays from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Updated at 5:45 p.m. March 15

Denton County Public Health has identified the first presumptive positive, travel-related case of the novel Coronavirus in Denton County, according to a March 15 statement.

The patient is not a resident of Denton County, but is temporarily under home-isolation in a residence in Double Oak. According to the statement, officials are identifying and contacting individuals who may have been exposed by the patient, who is in his thirties.

The test result is considered a presumptive positive until the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirms the results.

“We strongly encourage community members to adhere to social distancing recommendations and practice routine preventive actions,” stated Dr. Matt Richardson, director of Denton County Public Health. “DCPH will continue to monitor and investigate COVID-19 within Denton County.”

Updated at 5:50 p.m. March 13

Denton County Judge Andy Eads signed a disaster declaration March 13 as a “proactive response” and “mitigation reaction” to COVID-19, or the novel coronavirus.

There have been no positive cases of coronavirus in Denton County, but there have been at least 26 residents who have been or are still being monitored at home, according to officials.

The disaster declaration will take effect immediately and will expire in seven days unless it is renewed by the county. The declaration recommends that events of 250 people or more be canceled or postponed.

Eads said the county encourages faith-based congregations to temporarily congregate online versus in person if at all possible. He also recommended that any residents who need to use county or state services should do so online if at all possible.

Eads said the county decided to make the disaster declaration because of the presence of community spread in the metroplex.

“We believe this is the most prudent action to take,” Eads said.

He added that those who are urgently ill should go to their primary care physician or an urgent care to get tested.

“Be thoughtful and considerate of your fellow citizens,” Eads said.

Updated at 12:55 p.m. March 13

The town of Flower Mound will waive any cancellation or refund fees for camps, classes or rentals related to concerns about the coronavirus, according to officials. Those looking to make a cancellation or to get a refund should reach out to the parks and recreation department.

As a precaution, the town has also cancelled its biweekly lunches at the Senior Center until further notice. Officials said that since some seniors rely on the meal, they are working with Meals on Wheels to see if seniors might be able to pick up the meal and take it to their homes.

Updated at 12:30 p.m. March 13

While Denton County Transportation Authority is still providing service, the agency said in a March 13 statement that it is taking extra precautions to help prevent the spread of novel coronavirus.

“Along with daily cleanings, we are using a medical-grade disinfecting spray on all DCTA buses, trains and Downtown Denton Transit Center,” the statement read. “Additional attention is being placed on high touch point areas such as door handles, countertops and steering wheels; and we continue to evaluate our cleaning processes as needed.”

The agency has added a page to its website to keep employees and riders informed.

According to public health officials, there are 26 residents who either have been or are still being monitored in their homes.

Published March 9

Though there have not been any cases of novel coronavirus detected in Denton County, 25 residents either have been or are still being monitored in their homes, according to county officials.

“Those who have met qualifying criteria to be at-risk for developing COVID-19 were asked to stay home,” said Jennifer Rainey, Denton County Public Health’s public information officer. “Those community members fall into a risk category that qualifies them for epidemiological monitoring, including quarantine and screening for symptoms, based on the CDC’s guidelines at the time. Since those guidelines for monitoring for COVID-19 have changed and expanded rapidly, each situation can be different in qualifications met.”

Rainey said that coronavirus test kits are available at commercial laboratories in the county.

A Highland Village resident has been placed under quarantine with other passengers who were aboard the Grand Princess cruise ship, according to city officials.

Passengers of the ship, which docked in California on March 9, will face at least a 14-day quarantine in various locations after suspected cases of coronavirus were reported onboard, according to a statement from the California Office of Emergency Services.

Gov. Greg Abbott said in a statement Sunday the approximately 90 Texan passengers who are on the ship will be transported to Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio for testing.

Laurie Mullens, Highland Village’s director of communications, said the city has added an emergency item to the March 10 City Council agenda so that council members can talk about prevention strategies for upcoming community events.

Mullens said the city is communicating daily with state and county health officials and that cleaning crews have been instructed to clean more frequently in city facilities.

Denton County Public Health officials have asked residents to assist with prevention efforts. Rainey said the department asks that residents wash their hands often, avoid touching their faces, cover their mouths when coughing or sneezing, and stay home if they are sick.

“Denton County is doing everything we can here locally to follow all the best practices across America,” Denton County Judge Andy Eads said at a March 2 meeting.

Eads and director of Denton County Public Health Dr. Matt Richardson met last week with local municipal officials to provide an overview of health department processes and to inform them of the latest information on the coronavirus.

“This was simply an informational meeting designed to meet with one or two representatives from each of our 40 communities to help them understand how our health department works as well as provide the latest information about COVID-19,” Eads said. “We are committed to also keeping the public informed.”

As the virus spreads globally, officials said they will continue to monitor the situation locally and follow routine protocols as set by nationally recognized standards.

Molly Fox, Flower Mound’s director of communications, said the town’s emergency management officials have been gathering information about the virus since early January.

Fox said the town has been in close communication with Denton County Public Health as well as state and regional partners. At this time, no Flower Mound resident has been diagnosed with coronavirus and no residents are currently being monitored.

“Based on the early reports, staff has been able to take stock of personal protective equipment and continued to follow procedures in place regarding contagious illnesses on medical calls,” Fox said. “We should remember that the flu is still very active and almost 3,000 Texans have died from that since Oct. 1. A lot of the preventative measures for the flu are the same for COVID-19.”

So far, the town has not had to cancel any upcoming events or change its cleaning routines, she said.

“The town uses ultraviolet wands and ultraviolet air filters for an extra layer of cleanliness,” Fox said.

This story will be updated as new information becomes available.