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Tarrant County judge says he needs to consult with mayors before shutting businesses amid COVID-19 outbreak

Judge Glen Whitley told WFAA the coronavirus was not a deadly virus and was going to be measured in his approach to combating the spread.

FORT WORTH, Texas — Dallas and Tarrant County judges have not been on the same page on how to deal with businesses and restaurants when it comes to stopping the spread of COVID-19. 

While Dallas County shut down restaurants, bars, theaters and gyms. Tarrant County left its establishments open, only limiting the number of customers.

Tarrant County limited the number of people to half the allowed occupancy or up to 125 people.

WFAA asked the Tarrant County Judge Glen Whitley why he didn't follow Dallas' lead.

"This is not a deadly disease, yes there are folks dying but I’m just not going to do it,” said Whitley. 

Whitley told WFAA he first needed to consult with all the mayors of the 41 cities in Tarrant County before making a decision to shut businesses down.

“We just need to work together and we don't work together by me dictating without talking to them and quite honestly, I don't have the authority,” said Whitley.

But he does have the authority. County judges are in charge of emergency management.

Dallas and Tarrant counties always work together when it comes to bringing things like the Super Bowl, the World Cup or Amazon to the region. So why not have the same orders during this crisis? 

"We are never going to be reactionary. We are always going to make the prudent choice for our community,” said Veerinder Taneja, Tarrant County public health director. 

The president and governor have been urging stricter guidelines and mandates to stop the spread of the virus. 

Whitley said he is discouraging people from going to bars and restaurants and may eventually issue a new order. 

For now, time is ticking and more people are testing positive for COVID-19. 

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