Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins is urging business owners and residents "to make really good personal responsibility choices" in the wake of Texas Gov. Greg Abbott's plan to start "reopening" Texas.
At a Tuesday news conference, Jenkins said he had a conversation with Abbott last week and urged him to listen to local health officials regarding what's best for each county.
However, Abbott's plan to reopen businesses did not exclude Dallas County. So, Jenkins issued this piece of advice for residents.
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"With the governor's decree yesterday on the opening up more businesses in Texas, and here in Dallas and North Texas, and without any grace in there for areas like ours that are seeing an increase in cases, it’s up to all of you, both businesses owners and individuals, to make really good personal responsibility choices," said Jenkins.
Abbott made his announcement Monday and outlined how the state's businesses could begin to reopen amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Abbott said beginning Friday, some businesses including retail, restaurants, malls and movie theaters could reopen to the public provided they do not exceed 25% of their capacity. Other businesses, such as bars, tattoo and massage parlors and salons, would have to wait until mid-May to reopen.
To those who would rather have different rules for different counties, Abbott said that plan simply would not work.
"We cannot have a hodgepodge of 254 different sets of rules. We,as a state, must begin to take steps forward," Abbott said.
Jenkins said county leaders would support local businesses who choose to reopen, but he said two weeks of steady decline should be the ultimate sign of a positive trend.
Officials should look for a decline in deaths, overall number of cases and hospital admissions, he said.
Abbott reminded Texas that more than 70% of cases are among those 65 and older. He said a team of doctors and health care professionals advised him that all counties, including Dallas County, could move forward safely.
"Anybody who thinks that we get to the point where there is zero cases of COVID-19, that’s a fictional world, that’s never going to happen," Abbott said. "Tests will continue to be made and we will continue to control the coronavirus as we very slowly, very safely begin to reopen our economy."
Abbott is expected to roll out the second phase of his plan sometime in mid-May.
Tracking COVID-19 Cases in North Texas Counties
NBC 5 is tracking the number of COVID-19 related cases, recoveries and deaths in North Texas counties. Choose a county and click on a city or town to see how the coronavirus pandemic is affecting your area.
Cases are cumulative by day and are subject to change, dependent on each county health department's reporting schedule and methodology. Data may be reported county-wide, by city or town, or not at all. Cases, recoveries and death counts in 'unspecified' categories are used as placeholders and reassigned by their respective counties at a later date.
Data: County Health Departments, NBC 5 Staff