At a press conference Thursday, Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins requested a 250-bed mobile hospital and help from National Guard doctors and nurses who will help with epidemiological detective work.
This would be a "medical mission" and not law enforcement, Jenkins said.
"I want you to understand they are not coming here to impose martial law," Jenkins said. "They are not coming here for purposes beyond supporting us primarily in a completely non-law enforcement capacity other than security at some of these sites. They are here on a medical mission, so I don’t want people to worry about that.”
Jenkins also said that included in the 56 new cases announced earlier are two more Dallas County jail inmates who were in the same prison pod as the other cases.
"We need help, we need our partners to move faster," he said "We need those in our region who have not moved to scientific advice to do it now. Every day we wait costs lives. I’m getting more blunt with people because every day moves us closer to the day we do not have enough hospital beds and I don’t want us to get there.”
Jenkins added that earlier today he was on a conference call with county judges of the 10-county region and said everyone participated except Collin County.
Top updates for Thursday, March 26
- U.S. jobless claims soared to a record 3.3 million last week as layoffs jumped and emergency orders shut businesses down all across the country. The number is more than quadruple the previous record.
- The Senate unanimously passed a $2.2 trillion coronavirus rescue plan that includes individual payments to Americans. The House is expected to pass it Friday.
- Rural hospitals, many of which are already under financial strain, are struggling to make payroll during the pandemic.
Denton County reports first COVID-19 death
Denton County officials reported the county's first COVID-19 death Thursday. The person was the county's first case of community-transmitted COVID-19. He was a Lewisville resident in his 40s. He died Wednesday night and was not connected with the Denton State Assisted Living Facility, officials said. No other information was given Thursday out of respect for the man's family.
Denton County Judge Andy Eads urged residents to stay home and take the pandemic seriously.
"As your county judge I cannot stress enough the gravity of the situation we face in Denton County, our region and our nation," Eads said. "Your carelessness and cavalier attitude can and will unknowingly result in someone else’s death."
Denton County also reported 13 more cases of COVID-19 Thursday, bringing the county total to 85.
Gov. Abbott orders mandatory quarantine for travelers from New York-area, New Orleans
Gov. Greg Abbott issued a new executive order Thursday afternoon. This order requires a 14-day quarantine for anyone traveling from the New York area which includes New York, New Jersey and Connecticut. The same order applies to visitors from New Orleans.
The mandatory self-quarantine does not apply to anyone traveling by vehicle.
“California or Washington State could be the next ones on the list if the list were to expand,” Abbott said during a news conference.
Abbott said the Texas Department of Safety Troopers will enforce the order.
Anyone who visits from listed locations will be required to fill out a form that provides a designated quarantine location. DPS Troopers will then conduct visits to verify people are complying with the orders.
Individuals are not allowed to have any visitors during the self-quarantine period unless it’s a healthcare provider or physician, Abbott said.
Those who do not follow the order could face up to $1,000 in fines and/or 180 days in jail.
North Texas surpasses 500 cases of novel coronavirus
More than 500 positive cases of COVID-19 have been reported in North Texas, including nine deaths.
Dallas County health officials announced Thursday they had confirmed 56 new cases of COVID-19 and a seventh death from the disease.
A Dallas woman in her 90s had been critically ill in a local hospital from the disease before she died, officials said. She did not have any other high-risk chronic health conditions.
The increase brought the total to 303 positive cases among Dallas County residents.
Most of the region is now under some variation of a "stay at home" order, with Collin, Denton, Ellis, Hunt, Kaufman, Navarro, Rockwall and Tarrant Counties following the lead of Dallas County on Tuesday and issuing their own orders telling residents to stay home.
To see what the official orders are for your town or county, click here.
Seven people have died in Dallas County so far from COVID-19. One person has died in Tarrant County, and one person has died in Collin County, according to health officials.
Gov. Greg Abbott gives update on COVID-19 in Texas
Gov. Greg Abbott is holding a news conference Thursday on efforts in Texas to combat COVID-19. He will be joined by Texas Department of State Health Services Commissioner John Hellerstedt, MD, and Texas Division of Emergency Management Chief Nim Kidd.
Tarrant County has now had 100 cases
Health officials released new numbers Thursday to show Tarrant County had now reached the 100-case mark for COVID-19.
The increase represents a rise of ten from Wednesday. Fort Worth and Arlington currently have the most active cases, with 33 and 16 respectively. The county has a total of 96 active cases.
To see a full breakdown of the case count by town, click here.
15 people have recovered in Collin County
Collin County health officials reported Thursday morning that there are currently a total of 66 cases of COVID-19 in the county.
So far, 15 people have recovered from the novel coronavirus. Six patients are currently hospitalized, and 44 people are in self-isolation at home.
Health experts recommend taking the following preventative actions:
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
- Practice "social distancing" and stay at least 6 feet away from others and avoid large public gatherings
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
- 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 using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.
- Follow CDC’s recommendations for using a facemask.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
- If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. Always wash hands with soap and water if hands are visibly dirty.
- Consult CDC’s travel website for any travel advisories and steps to protect yourself if you plan to travel outside of the U.S.
WFAA digital producer Jake Harris contributed to this report.