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Dallas Co. Judge pressures governor to institute statewide closure of bars, restaurants, gyms

After an increase in community spread of Covid-19, including two in young patients, Judge Clay Jenkins says Gov. Greg Abbott must take aggressive statewide action.

DALLAS — Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins says it’s time to close bars, restaurants and gyms statewide after the appearance of additional cases of community spread – patients who contracted the coronavirus without any known close contact with someone who had it.

The county reported five new cases of community spread on Tuesday.

“Of the five community spread cases we reported today, three are in critical condition in hospitals. And that’s someone in their 20s, someone in their 30s, someone in their 60s,” Jenkins told WFAA’s Teresa Woodard. “So, this is nothing to play with no matter what your age is.”

Jenkins said the only way to contain the spread of the coronavirus is for everyone to take a unified, aggressive approach.

The city of Dallas and Dallas County have instituted strict drive-thru and takeout only policies for restaurants. Bars, gyms, and theaters are closed.

RELATED: Bars, gyms, theaters ordered to close in Dallas County

But no other county or city across the region has taken such action.

On Tuesday afternoon, just as Jenkins talked about the new critical cases in young people in Dallas, customers were still enjoying lunch inside restaurants and working out at gyms in places like Lewisville, which is not instituting any restaurant restrictions. 

A city spokesperson said Lewisville is following the guidance of the Denton County Health Department.  

“The best way to do this, the person who is uniquely situated to save lives, is Governor Greg Abbott,” Jenkins said. 

“I mean this with the utmost respect. There are no easy decisions left in this fight, but this is a decision he’s uniquely in a place to lead on and we need him to do it," Jenkins said of the governor.

Abbott's spokesman, John Wittman, said late Tuesday that the governor has given city and county officials the authority to do what is best for their communities.

“What’s best in Dallas might not be appropriate in a rural West Texas community,” he said, explaining why a statewide closure is not something Abbott is currently considering.

“City and county officials are doing the right thing, taking advice from their health departments,” he said, adding they are empowered to make their own decisions and follow CDC guidelines.

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