Dallas County Reports First COVID-19 Death, Governor Enacts Statewide Restrictions

Dallas County health officials said a Richardson man in his 60s has become the county’s first COVID-19 fatality. The county also announced an additional 19 new positive cases of the novel coronavirus.

The man was found dead in his home, and didn’t have any underlying, high-risk medical conditions, the county said. His death from the virus was confirmed by the Dallas County Medical Examiner’s office.

It brings the state death total to four.

The new cases include one woman in her 90s, one woman in her 70s, two men and three women in their 60s, two men and two women in their 50s, and six men and two women in their 30s. Twelve are from Dallas, three from Garland, two from Mesquite, and one each from Cedar Hill and Farmers Branch.

Six of the 19 cases had no connection to domestic or international travel, indicating more community spread.

Three of the patients are hospitalized, and one of those patients is in critical care. The rest are self-isolating at home.

Dallas County now has 55 confirmed cases of COVID-19. Nearby, Collin County has 13, Tarrant County has nine, and Denton County has five. There are 140 confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus statewide.

“Things will get worse before they get better,” Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins said in a statement. “How bad this gets is directly tied to how well each of you follow the CDC guidelines and exercise smart personal responsibility.”

At noon, Gov. Greg Abbott held a press conference, where he pointed out how rapidly the disease is spreading – just last Friday, when he made the state disaster declaration, there were just 39 cases in the state.

Abbott, as expected, announced statewide restrictions that are similar to the ones Dallas County and the city of Dallas adopted already. It limited gatherings to 10 people or fewer, prohibited visits to nursing homes, and limits restaurants to to-go and drive-through service only.

It also canceled school statewide, although Abbott told school districts that he still expected them to adopt some sort of distance learning.

“We are doing this now today so we can get back to business as usual more quickly,” Abbott said.

The order goes into effect midnight Friday, through midnight April 3, when the state will reassess.

“This executive order is not a shelter in place order,” Abbott said.

 

Bethany Erickson

Bethany Erickson, deputy editor at People Newspapers, cut her teeth on community journalism, starting in Arkansas. Recently, she's taken home a few awards for her writing, including a Gold award for Best Series at the 2018 National Association of Real Estate Editors journalism awards, a 2018 Hugh Aynesworth Award for Editorial Opinion from the Dallas Press Club, and a 2019 award from NAREE for a piece linking Medicaid expansion with housing insecurity. She doesn't like lima beans, black licorice or the word synergy. You can reach her at bethany.erickson@peoplenewspapers.com.

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