Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins began his March 31 press conference by applauding the governor for the statewide executive order issued earlier in the day that limits social interaction and clarifies the definition of “essential services.”

“All of North Texas and all of the state is now aligned, and you’re a lot safer than you have been the last 10 days since Dallas County first implemented its order,” Jenkins said.

One key difference between Dallas County's order and Gov. Greg Abbott's order is the rule around religious services, Jenkins said. Abbott’s order permits congregations without virtual capabilities to continue holding services.

“Last thing we need are little churches without the ability to broadcast online meetings [bringing] 30 people [together] in a small home,” Jenkins said.

Leaders of area congregations quickly volunteered to open their facilities to churches lacking video conference technology, he said.

“Every faith community in Dallas County will now have access to do remote services,” he said.

Jenkins also noted the county’s “critically short” supply of personal protective equipment. He said he is working with North Texas congressional leaders to get more gear to health care workers.

“We need masks on nurses at all times,” he said.

The county is also requesting a reversal of a federal decision that will cut off funding for the county’s two drive-thru testing sites on April 10. Dallas County is also seeking 400 more tests per day at both sites, Jenkins said.

In order to relieve hospitals, the county is also proposing a “COVID step-down unit,” a facility that would house patients who are recovering but not yet healthy enough to return home. The county is working with the Department of Defense to make this happen, Jenkins said.

Effective at midnight, all public and private commercial labs conducting coronavirus testing in Dallas County must report by 5 p.m. each day the number of tests performed as well as the number of tests that were positive. Additionally, all system and county hospitals must provide daily reports on the total number of beds versus the number of beds occupied, Jenkins said.