Dallas

Experts Warn Precautions Should Continue to Avoid Coronavirus Surge

Code enforcement actions Friday demonstrate efforts by the city of Dallas to educate residents about expert concerns

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A UT Southwestern expert warned Dallas city council members Thursday that precautions must continue to avoid a surge in COVID-19.

“This is going to be the new normal,” Dr. Trish Purl said.

In a video conference meeting, Dr. Purl shared graphics that show how many more cases of coronavirus there would have been without measures that limited the spread and how quickly there could be a new surge in cases without continued measures like facial covering to keep disease carriers from transmitting illness to others.

“We're not going to say it's not a pain in the neck. It is. But it makes a difference. And it is important,” Dr. Purl said.

The warning came as city authorities visited an estate sale that attracted a crowd of customers Thursday.

The appearance of police and code enforcement officers at the sale in Oak Cliff seemed extreme to some estate sale regulars, including Joe Eggleston.

“It seems to me that everybody is compliant. They're wearing masks. They're keeping six feet way. They're going in just a few at a time, so it takes a lot longer than it usually would,” Eggleston said.

Cell phone video recorded by neighbor Michael Fritz before the authorities arrived showed people crowding very close together, many without masks, all of them coming and going from the sale through the same front door of the house. 

Fritz called the city to complain.

“I just thought it was a public health issue,” Fritz said. “One of the nursing homes a block and a half away had like 32 cases, and I was just disappointed and worried that people in this neighborhood weren’t all wearing masks.”

Stardust Estate Sales is conducting the multi-day sale at a private home.

Ricky Lambert with Stardust said he followed the Governor’s rules for getting back in business.

“We're providing a service. We're a small business. This is how I make my living,” Lambert said.

The sale went on, even though Lambert said code enforcement officers told him he should have had a permit.

“You can have your estate sale, but you still need to register with the City of Dallas,” Code Compliance Officer Kelley Trice said.

A City spokesperson confirmed a citation was written.

Trice and other officers visited bars and restaurants along Lower Greenville Thursday. They were there to talk with owners about the Governor’s 25% capacity limit for bars reopening Friday. Restaurants will be allowed to transition up to 50% of capacity.

“We’re here to provide education in the community and work with you rather than against you,” Trice said.

Dallas Code Enforcement has conducted more than 19,000 COVID-19 inspections but issued only 34 citations according to another briefing document shared Thursday.

City Council Members listening to the information Thursday were divided on the approach experts have prescribed.

Several members supported the call for promoting social distancing and masks.

Councilman David Blewett took issue with plans to greatly expand testing and contract tracing. He said other data is still lacking.

“I don’t see where we’re going with this,” Blewett said. “We don’t get good numbers on recovery and we’re still focused on testing.”

Blewett said he does not think the overall economy should have been shut down as long as it was.

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