On Wednesday, Republican Dallas County Commissioner J.J. Koch appeared in a live video on Facebook in which he criticized County Judge Clay Jenkins and indicated that a county lockdown is unlikely despite Jenkins’ recent requests for more restrictions.
“I want to let you know that everyone is still very much free,” Koch said. “Judge Jenkins shot off a letter on his own accord to ask the governor for a bunch of new restrictions, and from what I know of the governor, it ain’t happening. I think he’s through listening to Judge Jenkins.”
“There’s no new restrictions coming up. There’s no great closedown coming up any time soon,” he added.
Abbott reportedly said on a radio program in Dallas last week, “We are not going to have any more lockdowns in the State of Texas.”
The governor’s current coronavirus executive order restricts most businesses to 75 percent capacity, but provides that capacity shall be restricted to 50 percent at businesses in a Trauma Service Area (TSA) in which COVID-19 patients exceed 15 percent of hospital capacity for at least seven consecutive days. Bars would have to close entirely in such a case.
As of Wednesday, coronavirus patients were 13.96 percent of the Dallas-Fort Worth area’s hospital capacity.
In a letter on November 13, Jenkins asked Gov. Greg Abbott to either implement “the recommendations of our local health experts” or confer to Jenkins the authority to establish his own restrictions.
Throughout the year, Jenkins has contended that government mandates should be employed to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. The county judge sent a similar letter to Abbott in June requesting a statewide lockdown.
On Sunday, Jenkins admonished the public on social media and urged compliance with his recommendations.
“Now is the time to renew our strength. Each person’s selfish desires must give way to sacrifice for the good of our community,” Jenkins wrote on Twitter. “Trade fear for faith in science. Please stop going to bars/indoor restaurants and having at home get togethers during this spike.”
Restrictions on movement and commerce have become increasingly controversial as more people are hospitalized with COVID-19 and as many Texans resist the specter of bludgeoning the state’s economy with another lockdown.
A shelter-in-place mandate issued by El Paso County Judge Ricardo Samaniego was derailed last week after a Texas appellate court placed the order on hold pending a lawsuit against the county challenging the lockdown.
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Hayden Sparks is a reporter for The Texan in Dallas. During the academic year, he coaches high school competitive speech and debate and has also been involved in community theater and politics. A native Texan, Hayden served as a delegate at the Republican Party of Texas Convention in 2016. He is on track to receive a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Liberty University. In his free time, Hayden is known to take walks around the neighborhood while listening to random music on Spotify.