COVID-19 Updates from the Office of Mayor Eric Johnson (press release)

DALLAS — The following are updates from the Office of Mayor Eric Johnson on the COVID-19 situation.

Disaster extension

Mayor Johnson on Thursday officially signed an extension of the city’s local state of disaster declaration, making it effective until 11:59 p.m. April 29 unless it is rescinded or further extended prior to then.

The signing came after the Dallas City Council on Wednesday voted at a special-called meeting to authorize extension of the state of disaster. Mayor Johnson initially declared a state of disaster on Thursday, March 12.

The accompanying emergency regulations remain in place, but the rules are subject to change by the mayor for as long as the state of disaster is in effect.

“Declaring a state of disaster was not an easy decision to make because of what it means for our city, and the economic ramifications of the subsequent emergency regulations have weighed heavily on me in the past few days,” Mayor Johnson said. “But I believe that this disaster declaration and our emergency measures were prudent and responsible. These actions, I believe, will save lives.”

See the extended proclamation here and read Mayor Johnson’s Dallas Morning News column on the state of disaster and living with uncertainty in difficult times by clicking here.

Mayor Johnson’s statement on Governor Greg Abbott’s executive order creating statewide regulations to combat COVID-19

“Governor Abbott made the right call. We are in a global pandemic; COVID-19 does not stop at city limits or county lines,” Mayor Johnson said. “We are all in this together, and we must do all we can to stop the spread of this disease.”

Read the governor’s executive order here.

COVID-19 testing

The City of Dallas now posts the numbers of known COVID-19 tests performed in the city to its web page, DallasCityHall.com/coronavirus.

Emergency regulations issued by the mayor require labs in Dallas to report daily tests and specimen collections to the City.

“Information about our testing is vital to the public’s understanding of the fight against COVID-19, and the data is crucial to City leaders as we make difficult decisions based on the need to preserve public health, safety, and welfare,” Mayor Johnson said.

As of Thursday morning, 55 Dallas County residents have tested positive for COVID-19.

“We expect more cases to become known in the days and weeks ahead as testing capacity increases,” said Mayor Johnson. “Do not be alarmed by the increase in confirmed cases, but take this coronavirus seriously and take proper precautions. COVID-19 is more lethal than the seasonal flu, and taking personal responsibility to help slow the spread will help save lives.”

Testing sites

The City is working with its partners to establish testing sites at the American Airlines Center and the Ellis Davis Field House.

More information will be made available in the days ahead.

Helping out

Dallas residents and businesses are stepping up to provide assistance as the City works to slow the spread of COVID-19.

Here is some of what is happening:

  • Home Depot is donating 15,000 medical masks to the Dallas Police Department.
  • The Dallas Mavericks are partnering with Mayor Johnson on a public service announcement campaign about social distancing and preventing COVID-19 transmission. Watch a PSA with Mavericks players Luka Doncic and Dwight Powell here, and stay tuned for more.
  • Energy companies have taken measures to help the City’s customers.
    • Exelon brands (Constellation, Atlantic City Energy, BGE, ComEd, Delmarva Power, PECO) have suspended service disconnections and will waive late payment charges until at least May 1. Exelron has also committed to donating $1.15 million to local and national COVID-19 relief efforts.
    • Atmos Energy has temporarily suspended disconnections for non-payment.
    • Vistra Energy brands (TXU, Ambit, Tri-Eagle) are waiving late efes, extending payment due dates with no down payment required, and reducing down payemnts and deferring balances over five equal installments. TXU customers can also receive additional bill-payment assistance through its TXU Energy AidSM program.
    • NRG brands (Reliant, Green Mountain, Cirro, Stream, XOOM, Discount Power) are suspending disconnections for non-payment until April 3.

“I want to thank all Dallas businesses and residents who have helped contribute to our efforts to fight COVID-19,” Mayor Johnson said. “Everyone has a part to play to flatten the curve of COVID-19’s spread, and I am thrilled to see so many people and organizations stepping up to face the challenges ahead.”

Overnight shelters

The Office of Homeless Solutions has a temporary shelter at the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center. The shelter is meant to accommodate guests as other overnight shelters lose bed capacity because of new social distancing guidelines.

On Wednesday, 321 people stayed overnight at the city shelter. The shelter is open overnight from 5 p.m. to 7 a.m. through the morning of Saturday, March 21.

Lime suspending service in Dallas

Lime has informed the mayor’s office that the company, which has rental scooters throughout the city, will temporarily suspend its service in Dallas in part due to COVID-19 safety precautions.

Read more about Lime’s decision here.

Business leaders offer support

The following is a joint statement released Thursday from John Olajide, Dallas Regional Chamber (DRC) 2020 Chair of the Board, Dale Petroskey, DRC President & CEO, Kourtny Garrett, President & CEO of Downtown Dallas, Inc., Fred Perpall, Chairman of the Dallas Citizens Council, Kelvin Walker, CEO of the Dallas Citizens Council, and Craig Davis, CEO of VisitDallas.

We are facing one of the great challenges of our time in combating COVID-19, but we can, and we will, get through this together. Right now, containment is the key. Slowing the spread of this illness is what will allow our health care providers to treat those among us who most need care.

It is imperative that the people of Dallas and the surrounding region take appropriate steps to slow the spread of this potentially deadly coronavirus, including limiting gatherings and working from home. That is why we fully support the actions taken by Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson, Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins and Governor Greg Abbott to limit gatherings and protect the health and welfare of the public.

We also believe it is imperative that our health care workers have access to more test kits, so that they may be able to track and treat patients with confirmed cases of COVID-19. Testing should be robust and conducted at locations separate from our hospitals and doctors’ offices. Over the next few days, we anticipate Dallas will have new drive-thru testing facilities, which will increase testing capacity and serve more residents. We strongly support these programs and are calling on Congressional leaders and state agencies to provide the necessary funding and staffing resources to Dallas County Health and Human Services, hospitals, and other public health authorities to operate these programs. We are grateful to the President and Congress approving relief packages to fight COVID-19, but additional funding is needed at the local level as this situation continues to evolve over the next eight weeks.

Finally, we understand that this will be a time of great economic hardship and we are coordinating on a plan to help workers who may be out of a job as a result of temporary COVID-19 restrictions. We will be pooling our resources and working with our member companies and organizations to connect those in need of employment with possible temporary and longer-term job opportunities.

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