Denton County officials issued a mandatory, county-wide stay-at-home order Tuesday, asking people to stay home in an attempt to stall the spread of COVID-19.
Denton County Judge Andy Eads said the order would go into effect at 11:59 p.m., March 25 and impacts all 40 cities in the county.
Under the order (which can be read at the bottom of this page), Essential Businesses are allowed to remain open and those working at those businesses are permitted to travel to work in those businesses, but all other businesses are ordered to close. Restaurants offering to go, drive-through or takeout service are permitted to stay open.
People are permitted to leave their residences to perform any Essential Activities, which are tasks related to health and safety or to obtain food and supplies.
Full coverage of the COVID-19 outbreak and how it impacts you
All elective medical, surgical and dental procedures are prohibited in the county so that resources can be redirected to COVID-19 response.
County leaders said they hoped people comply with the declaration and treat the order as a "life and death matter" but that they were prepared to issue citations for people found to be in repeated violation of the order. Jody Gonzalez, director of Denton County Emergency Services said those found to be in violation could face a $1,000 fine or 180 days in jail.
Through Monday, Denton County has confirmed 36 cases of coronavirus and has reported zero deaths.
*Map locations are approximate, central locations for the city and are not meant to indicate where actual infected people live.
Earlier in the week, Denton County health officials announced restrictions to help slow the spread of the virus. The restrictions, which went into effect at 11:59 p.m. Monday, included limiting all gatherings to 10 people or fewer, closed bars, commercial amusement establishments, theaters, gyms and other businesses that do not sell essential household items.
“Today, we are taking further stringent steps to reduce the risk of infection across Denton County as part of a regional approach to reducing the spread of COVID-19,” Eads said on Sunday. “However, we cannot ask our businesses to bear the brunt of these actions and not do our own part. It is incumbent upon all of us to stay at home, if possible, and take common sense steps to limit our interactions with others outside of our respective homes."
“We acknowledge this is a dilemma, and that everything done prior to a pandemic will appear like an overreaction and alarmist," Eads said. "Everything done after will seem inadequate."
The order came after Texas Gov. Greg Abbott opted not to order a statewide "shelter in place" mandate, instead leaving it up to counties to decide how to fight the new coronavirus.
How to Avoid COVID-19 Infection:
The best way to prevent infection is to take precautions to avoid exposure to this virus, which are similar to the precautions you take to avoid the flu. CDC always recommends these everyday actions to help prevent the spread of respiratory viruses, including:
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
- Stay home when you are sick.
- Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
*Information shared from the Office of Texas Gov. Greg Abbott
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