More limits instituted: County judge orders shutdown of personal care businesses

Cooke County IT technician Christian Martinez works the video for the Monday, March 23, meeting of the Cooke County Commissioners’ Court inside the Cooke County Courthouse in downtown Gainesville. The meeting was livestreamed for the public to help limit the spread of the new coronavirus. In an effort to practice safe social distancing, members of the court altered their seating, too.

With cases of the novel coronavirus continuing to climb statewide, members of the Cooke County Commissioners’ Court unanimously agreed to shut down all personal care businesses in the county until further notice.

After two and a half hours in closed session, members of the court reconvened into open session Monday, March 23, to approve extending Cooke County Judge Jason Brinkley’s public health emergency declaration that was originally issued on March 17. An amendment to the declaration states individuals cannot occupy or operate the following: hair and nail salons and barber shops, estheticians and related personal care businesses, spas, massage parlors, tattoo, piercing parlors, tanning salons and gymnasiums effective 11:59 p.m. Tuesday, March 24.

The declaration also asks residents to follow Gov. Greg Abbott’s executive order from March 19. Abbott’s order on Thursday required all schools, restaurant dining areas, bars, schools and gyms to temporarily shut down through April 3. It also stated that every person in Texas must avoid social gatherings in groups of more than 10 people in an effort to slow down the spread of COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus.

Violation of either the governor’s or county judge’s orders carries a fine of up to $1,000 or confinement in jail.

Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins declared a shelter-in-place order for his county Sunday, March 22, which was slated to go into effect 11:59 p.m. Monday. His order requires nonessential businesses to close their doors and prohibits all public gatherings.

When asked why the county didn’t implement a similar order, Brinkley said Cooke County isn’t experiencing what Dallas County is.

“They have clear evidence of community spread and have a much higher population density,” Brinkley said. “We are increasing testing availability and will continue to monitor the situation.”

As of press time Monday, there were no reported cases of COVID-19 in Cooke County. However, there were two confirmed cases in nearby Grayson County, according to the Grayson County Health Department. In Dallas County, there were 155 reported cases of COVID-19 and four deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University & Medicine. Data from the university as of press time also shows there were 41,708 reported cases of COVID-19 nationwide and 573 reported deaths. In Texas, there were 722 reported cases of the new coronavirus as of press time and nine deaths.

COVID-19, which stands for coronavirus disease 2019, is caused by a virus named SARS-CoV-2. It first appeared in late 2019 in Wuhan, China.

Some ways local municipalities are working on slowing down the spread of the virus is by hosting their meetings via a web or teleconference. Cooke County Commissioners’ Court did meet inside the Cooke County Courthouse in downtown Gainesville on Monday; however, the meeting was only open to the public via a livesteam on the county’s YouTube channel.

On Wednesday, March 25, members of the Gainesville City Council are scheduled to have an emergency meeting to discuss COVID-19. They are not meeting in the Municipal Building at 200 S. Rusk St. though.

City Manager Barry Sullivan said council members will be teleconferencing in “where ever a person is connected to internet or phone service.” The public will be able to call in as well, according to information from the city.

City to meet Wednesday

In other COVID-19 city news, Sullivan sent out an updated local health disaster declaration late Sunday, March 22, to include the governor’s March 19 executive order. Mayor Jim Goldsworthy ordered the city’s declaration later the same day the governor’s order was issued.

Follow the Gainesville Daily Register online for updates throughout the day as the situation surrounding the new coronavirus is developing.

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