Dallas County Ordered to Shelter in Place, Beginning Monday Night

Dallas County reported its first coronavirus-related death on Thursday, March 19.
Dallas County reported its first coronavirus-related death on Thursday, March 19. KTSDESIGN/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins has ordered all county residents to shelter in place until at least April 3. All nonessential business in the county must close at 11:59 p.m. Monday.

"It makes me sick that we are at this point." — Clay Jenkins

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"It makes me sick that we are at this point," Jenkins said. "God-willing, (shelter-at-home) and the mass production of ventilators will keep us from having to ration care."

According to Jenkins' order, Dallas County residents can only leave the house in order to seek medical care, pick up essential items like food — for either humans or pets — or household supplies, participate in solitary outdoor recreational activities or to work at an essential business.

"The goal of this order is never to exceed our hospital capacity," Jenkins said. "The simple truth is that the numbers tell me that we must act swiftly. We are headed to a point of no return if we continue to dawdle."

Essential business includes retailers like grocery stores, gas stations and convenience stores, in addition to healthcare providers, news outlets and restaurants providing takeout, delivery and drive-thru services. Essential infrastructure providers, like local governments, trash collection and telecommunication systems providers can also remain open. Charity organizations that provide help to those in need and child care providers are also exempted from the order.

Churches are limited to remote services, with a maximum of 10 staff members participating in the planning and execution of services.

"I need you to police yourselves," Jenkins said. "Let us focus on life-saving enforcement and keeping the peace from violent crimes."

As of Sunday morning, Dallas County has reported 131 positive tests for the novel coronavirus. At least two people have died in the county after their positive tests.
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Stephen Young has written about Dallas news for the Observer since 2014. He's a Dallas native and a graduate of the University of North Texas.
Contact: Stephen Young