Denton County officials announced the fourth COVID-19 death and 15 new cases along with a weeklong extension of the countywide stay-at-home mandate this afternoon.
Denton County Public Health reported that the patient, a man in his 60s, was a resident of The Colony and had been hospitalized after he was exposed to the diseases via local transmission.
“Today, we have learned of yet another death due to COVID-19 which has impacted our communities in Denton County,” Judge Andy Eads said in a news release. “Our thoughts and prayers go out to this man’s family as well as the families of those who have also been victims of this terrible pandemic.”
The additional 15 cases have increased the total in unincorporated Denton County to 20, Lewisville to 18, Frisco to 17 and the countywide total to 206. The Denton State Supported Living Center resident total increased to 50 and the staff total to 23. As a result of the growing number of local cases, the Denton County Commissioners Court voted to extend the stay-at-home mandate to April 7, at 11:59 p.m.
“The Commissioners Court has extended the stay-at-home mandate and the closure of non-essential businesses through April 7 and anticipate it will continue longer,” Eads said. “We know these strict measures cause hardships, but we must keep residents at home to curb community spread and limit the potential for overwhelming our medical facilities.”
The order states that all public and private gatherings regardless of sizes are prohibited, all businesses not listed as essential must close to the public and residents working for a non-essential organization must work from home. Car dealerships, outdoor clubs and showrooms must remain closed and dine-in services are prohibited, though delivery services are allowed as long as the business ships groceries, food or goods to residents.
Failure to follow the mandate can result in a fine not exceeding $1,000 and jail time not exceeding 180 days. County officials are also working to re-open businesses across Denton County once health officials indicate the stay-at-home mandate is no longer needed.
“We appreciate the extra efforts both individuals and businesses have taken and want you to know that we understand your concerns about not being able to conduct business as usual,” Eads said. “We are closely watching the trends and have started developing a plan to bring businesses back online to get the local Denton County economy back to work as soon as it is safe to do so.”
DCPH Director Matt Richardson warned against using the number of reported cases to assess the risk of the disease, the Denton Record-Chronicle reports. He said that confirmed COVID-19 cases are underrepresented in the data because, by law, only positive cases are required to be reported.
“As the pandemic moves through Denton County, I would caution the public to not assess risk based on reported cases in their community,” Richardson said. “I do not want people to have a false sense of security, [because] risk is generalized and we have community spread present.”
Plamedie Ifasso can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Featured image: Lasso file photo by Amber Gaudet.