By David Sedeño
The Texas Catholic
Dallas County residents were ordered to “shelter in place” beginning the evening of March 23 through April 3 in an effort to combat the spread of COVID-19, Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins announced March 22.
Dallas County has recorded approximately 100 confirmed cases of the coronavirus and three deaths. On March 21 and 22, two mobile facilities to administer tests to mostly first responders were opened. Globally, there have been more than 360,000 confirmed cases and more than 14,000 deaths, mostly in China and Italy.
Several states already have “shelter in place” orders, but not Texas, and no other counties have issued such an order.
The Dallas County order calls for all residents working in non-essential businesses or operations to remain in their homes, with the exception of going to doctor’s appointments, pharmacies or to shop for groceries or food, among a few other key exemptions, such as going on walks, but must stay at least 6 feet apart and not congregate with each other.
Weddings have been ordered canceled through 11:59 p.m. on April 3 and worship services may only be broadcast and the staff to coordinate that effort is limited to 10. Several parishes and the Cathedral Shrine of the Virgin of Guadalupe in downtown Dallas continue to record and broadcast Masses.
The order allows for funeral to continue, but with restrictions on social distancing. Elective medical and dental procedures have been suspended as part of the order.
Businesses exempt from closure include hospital and other medical facilities, pharmacies, grocery stores, restaurants operating on a carry-out basis, among other key industries, including news operations.
“This order is our best chance to flatten the curve here in Dallas County and save as many lives as possible,” Jenkins told reporters. “I know there will be economic hardships and business closures with this order and it makes me sick that we are at this point.”
Jenkins said he hoped that other area local officials would follow suit as he said that would be the best way to limit the spread of COVID-19 that already has killed more than 14,000 worldwide and nearly 400 in the United States.
Editor’s note: This story will be updated as warranted by news events.