A day before large segments of Texas' economy are set to reopen, Dallas County health officials announced the county's largest-ever single-day tally of new cases of COVID-19.
The county confirmed 179 additional cases of the disease caused by the novel coronavirus and five coronavirus-related deaths Thursday. In a statement posted on Twitter Thursday, Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins said the county's epidemiologists think the sharp uptick stems from a change in guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that allows high-exposure workers in businesses like grocery stores to be tested with no symptoms.
"All of the above information points to the importance of limiting unnecessary shopping trips & avoiding crowds in this worsening situation," Jenkins said. "With the Governor’s order set to open still more businesses tomorrow, your smart decisions to protect you, your family & the community are more important than ever. It’s beautiful weather and we’ve been cooped up for over a month but the underlying advice based on science from the health experts has not changed."
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Thursday's total tops the county's previous highest single-day total of 135 new cases, which was set Tuesday.
On Monday, Gov. Greg Abbott announced he would allow the state's stay-at-home order to expire Friday, replacing it with a new executive order that allows restaurants, movie theaters and shopping malls to reopen at 25% capacity. The order supersedes all municipal and county stay-at-home orders in the state.
During a press conference Monday, Abbott said the statewide order had been effective in slowing the spread of the virus, but it had come at a cost.
"The lives saved are priceless, but the price has been steep," Abbott said. "Just as we united as one state to slow COVID-19, we must also come together to rebuild the lives and the livelihoods" of those affected by COVID-19.