Texas Judge Asks Abbott to Consider COVID Measures as Daily Cases Expected to Reach 2,000 by Thanksgiving

Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins sent a letter to Texas Governor Greg Abbott on Friday urging him to consider more COVID-19 restrictions in the North Texas region as cases continue to rise there.

North Texas is centered on the Dallas-Forth Worth metroplex and includes many rural counties. Jenkins said that COVID-19 cases in the area are increasing and the region is "staring down the barrel of a medical model that indicates without drastic change we'll be above 2,000 cases per day on average before Thanksgiving."

There were 767 new positive COVID tests reported in Dallas County on Friday, bringing the total number of active cases there to an estimated 12,671, according to CBS DFW.

The state also reported 1,992 in the North Texas region admitted to hospital with the virus.

There are 14,000 people hospitalized in the region, which only has 16,684 staffed beds.

"The rate of community spread has our local health authority and our regional hospital administrators concerned that we are quickly approaching caseloads that will be unbearable for our facilities and personally catastrophic for our families," Jenkins wrote.

He also sent Abbott a copy of a letter from the county's public health committee with recommendations on how to curb the spread of the disease.

Jenkins said that hospitals in the Dallas-Fort Worth were now at 94 percent of the peak hospital census, which the region hit in July during the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to NBC 5 Dallas-Forth Worth.

"Please consider implementing the recommendations of our local health experts or confirming that local county judges have the legal authority to take such action," Jenkins said.

#NEW @JudgeClayJ has sent a letter to @GovAbbott asking him to consider the recommendations by the Dallas Co. Public Health Committee. New Covid-19 cases & hospitalizations have been rising in N. #Texas but haven’t met the Governor’s threshold to scale back openings here. @CBSDFW pic.twitter.com/imYKiAbEse

— Jack Fink (@cbs11jack) November 14, 2020

Those recommendations include a stronger mask order for Dallas County, keeping bars closed, closing loopholes that allow bars to stay open if they serve food and stopping dine-in restaurants. Dining outside would be permitted if people were six feet apart.

Abbott's executive order on virus restrictions states that re-openings have to be scaled back when a region's hospital capacity reaches 15 percent COVID patients for seven days in a row.

At that point, business that have been operating at 75 percent capacity must drop to 50 percent, while bars where alcohol sales make up 51 percent or more of gross revenue aren't allowed to offer on-site service.

The percentage of COVID patients compared to total hospital capacity in North Texas was 11.9 percent on Friday, according to the Texas Department of State Health Services. The previous high was 14.2 percent on July 26, though this would also not meet the threshold laid out in the governor's order.

"Let me point out that time is of the essence. We cannot afford to wait until we're in a situation that El Paso got into," Jenkins said on Thursday, referring to a recent surge in cases there.

Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins
Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins, flanked by (L-R) Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings and Dallas County Health and Human Services Director Zachary Thompson, answers questions at a press conference concerning the second health care worker to contract Ebola, at the Dallas County Commissioners Court on October 15, 2014 in Dallas. Jenkins has asked Governor Greg Abbott to consider more COVID-19 restrictions for North Texas. Stewart F. House/Getty Images