Dallas County judge asks residents to carefully weigh risks tied to Gov. Greg Abbott's eased business restrictions

Public health officials have indicated that it is not yet safe to lift safer-at-home orders, Jenkins said. (Screenshot courtesy FOX 4 News)
Public health officials have indicated that it is not yet safe to lift safer-at-home orders, Jenkins said. (Screenshot courtesy FOX 4 News)

Public health officials have indicated that it is not yet safe to lift safer-at-home orders, Jenkins said. (Screenshot courtesy FOX 4 News)

During an April 28 press briefing, Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins warned residents of the risks associated with the loosened business restrictions approved April 27 by Gov. Greg Abbott.

Following a week where the virus appeared to be on the decline, the county announced 135 new cases April 28, which is the county's highest daily case count thus far, Jenkins said.

Gov. Abbott's order does not allow leaders of areas with evidence of considerable community spread to decide what is best for their own communities, he added.

“Without any grace in [the order] for areas like ours that are seeing increasing cases, it’s up to all of you ... to make really good personal responsibility choices,” he said.

Once businesses open back up, it is likely that the virus will spread among asymptomatic carriers, Jenkins said. Those who choose to stay at home will be at greater risk of becoming infected by those who choose to go out, he added.


“If we don't choose to go to a crowded movie house, but our neighbor does, that has an impact on all of us,” he said.

Jenkins advised county residents to follow guidance from medical health authorities, such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which have said that individuals should shelter in place until there is a two-week decline in cases as well as an adequate amount of testing. Neither of those criteria has been met in Dallas County, he said.

“It’s not about what we are allowed to do. It’s what [Dallas County] Public Health and [the] CDC tell us we should do,” he said. “If enough of us follow that, that’s enough to get our economy moving.”

Texas ranks 49th in total COVID-19 testing, Jenkins said. The county has put in requests with state and federal partners for more kits but still has only a third or a fourth of the tests it needs to curb the virus, he said.

“We are well below where we need to be, according to our local health doctors,” Jenkins said.

So far this week, the average daily number of cases is 110, which is the highest daily average the county has seen thus far, Jenkins said. Thirteen deaths have been reported since April 26, 10 of which were confirmed April 28. Deceased patients ranged from a teenage girl to a man in his 90s.

“The week is not over,” Jenkins said. “God willing, we have a great week going forward with less deaths and less cases.”

Jenkins said the county will work with businesses that plan to reopen to ensure the rollout is as safe as possible, but residents should carefully weigh the consequences of resuming normal life.

“I’m not telling you to second-guess the governor,” he said. “I’m telling you this because now, it is up to you to make good decisions and to decide what you want to do as a business owner and resident.”
By Olivia Lueckemeyer
Olivia Lueckemeyer graduated in 2013 from Loyola University New Orleans with a degree in journalism. She joined Community Impact Newspaper in October 2016 as reporter for the Southwest Austin edition before her promotion to editor in March 2017. In July 2018 she returned home to the Dallas area and became editor of the Richardson edition.