There was a meeting of the minds in Dallas Wednesday as Mayor Eric Johnson convened a meeting of dozens of stakeholders to talk about how they’ll react when the coronavirus hits North Texas.
“I believe it’s not a matter of if, it’s when. We all believe it’s a matter of when,” said Director of Emergency Management Rocky Vaz.
Vaz said the closed-door meeting included city and county leaders along with representatives from DFW Airport, the area’s major hospital, local school districts, universities and the Dallas Regional Chamber.
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“We are looking at continuity of operation plans of how we would provide essential services to residents and what that looks like if we start losing some of our workforce temporarily,” said Vaz.
He said they’re prepared for up to half of departments like the police force or sanitation department to have to remain home at any one time.
Area school districts talked through potential closures like those seen in other parts of the country.
"We impact the workforce a lot. Because if kids can't go to school, then people can't go to work. We’re going to handle that on a case by case basis. If we’re told a school or two need to be shut down, then we’ll shut a school or two down, not necessarily the whole district unless we get directives from Dallas County Health or the Centers for Disease Control,” said Dallas ISD Superintendent Michael Hinojosa.
Hinojosa went on to say some districts who expect students and families to travel internationally over upcoming spring breaks have discouraged travel. Others plan to screen students returning. Still, Hinojosa said his district is moving forward business as usual.
Dallas Fort Worth Hospital Council President Steve Love, which represents medical facilities across 16 counties, said all hospitals are prepared for possible patients.
“We have not identified any specific hospitals we think would have more cases than others. I think as you look at some of the patterns you’ve seen in Washington State and other places, it’s really hard to predict where it would be. Therefore, all hospitals all prepared,” said Steve Love.
City leaders say it's a focus on prevention rather than fear.