As COVID-19 cases surge, Tarrant County judge urges churches to stop meeting in-person

Tarrant County's judge asked for a meeting with Governor Greg Abbott to urge him into giving counties more room to enact emergency measures.

Judge Glen Whitley is also urging churches to go back online and for civic groups to stop meeting in-person.        

For churches again holding in-person worship services, Judge Whitley wants to clear the pews in wake of soaring numbers of COVID-19 cases.

“I’ve been told I have absolutely no control over the churches, and I understand that,” he said. “But I do think it makes sense to live-stream those services.”

Some churches have remained virtual since the onset of the pandemic.

Reverend Kyev Tatum in Fort Worth is among a group of ministers with congregations including many seniors with underlying health conditions. 

“We’re still on quarantine and don’t anticipate coming off of quarantine until the next 30 to 60 days once there is a vaccine,” Tatum said.

Judge Whitley also sounding the alarm with civic organizations having in-person meetings.

Some of your chambers, some of your civic organizations, Lions club, Rotary, optimists, some of those clubs, we may need to really encourage them to go back to virtual meetings or delay having those meetings until after the holidays,” he said.

According to Whitley, the suggestions could help keep businesses and jobs intact while tackling the out of control spread of COVID-19 in Tarrant County. He has also been in contact with Gov. Abbott’s office, trying to petition for more local control over public health restrictions.

The number of hospital beds while still under the threshold of a county emergency is a growing concern with some facilities beginning to postpone elective surgeries.

“People are beginning to get a little nervous. We still have available beds. We are watching very closely to make sure that our hospitals stay open,” Whitley said.

And the worst culprit heading into the holidays, Whitley says, is families and friends who continue to gather in groups.

 “Everybody needs to just try to tap the brakes right now,” he said.