DALLAS — He only gave his first name. But the mask he wore even while waiting curbside to be picked up after his flight from Austin to Dallas Love Field Airport Thursday afternoon told us all we needed to know about his concern for COVID-19.
“Pretty much so, yes,” the young man named Kingsley said about wearing the mask every time he flies.
But if he’d flown to Texas from New York or New Orleans, our conversation would have been followed by a trip to a self-imposed quarantine, per the most recent order from Texas Governor Greg Abbott.
And he’s OK with that.
“I think it’s very important just to make sure everyone’s safe,” the frequent flyer said, his speech muffled by that protective mask. “The whole community social distancing, I mean it’s real so it’s important that’s done."
Abbott made the announcement earlier Thursday based on medical advice from his own team and advice from medical experts in New York, one of the locations in the United States that is reeling the most from COVID-19 infections. And with neighboring Louisiana’s cases on the rise too, the order also includes anyone traveling to Texas from New Orleans.
“The New York tri-state area is the center of the coronavirus pandemic in the U.S.,” Abbott said. “Dr. Birx urged everyone traveling from the New York metro area to self-quarantine for 14 days before exposing themselves to the public to make sure they prevent the spread of COVID-19." Dr. Deborah Birx is the response coordinator for the White House Coronavirus Task Force.
Abbott said travelers from those locations will be required to register with the Texas Department of Public Safety. That's so that some measure of confirmation can be maintained over whether people abide by the quarantine's guidelines: Confine themselves at home or in a hotel for 14 days or until they leave the state, whichever comes first.
“DPS troopers will conduct visits to those designated quarantine locations to verify compliance with this order. Failure to comply is a criminal offense punishable by $1,000 fine or 180 days in jail or both,” Abbott said.
Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins said he agreed with Abbott furing a Thursday night press conference. Jenkins also said during that conference that the county confirmed 56 new cases for a total of 303 in the county. He also detailed his request to the state for a 250-bed mobile hospital to help ease the potential strain on local hospital resources.
“We just need to follow the science,” Jenkins said. “If Dr. Fauci says it’s a good idea, it’s a good idea,’ he said in reference to Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and member of the White House Coronavirus Task Force.
“And if he doesn’t…I’m with Dr. Fauci,” said Jenkins.
“I think it’s a great idea,” said Plano Mayor Harry Rosiiere, reached via FaceTime at his home where he is on the ninth day of a 14-day self-imposed quarantine. He made the decision after his daughters returned home from the New York area. While none of them have shown any symptoms of infection, he still feels it was the right choice and one that other travelers should be willing to make as well.
“Think about, who are the loves ones you’re willing to do this for?” he said while mentioning his 86-year-old mother who lives in New York.
“I would support that, “ he said of the governor’s order. "And support that he would extend the extreme caution to everyone as much as possible. It’s the right thing to do. And we do it for the people we care about. We do it for our community. This is how together we will overcome this crisis.”
More on WFAA:
- Tarrant County now partnering with MedStar to do in-home COVID-19 testing
- Dallas ISD to purchase 12,000 WiFi hotspots to help students continue distance learning during COVID-19 pandemic
- Man dies after being hit by car on I-35 in Denton, police say
- Citing virus, EPA has stopped enforcing environmental laws
- Coronavirus live updates: US leads world in confirmed cases