North Texas has the most coronavirus cases of any region in the state.
Now, Dallas County is going to create a temporary mobile hospital and get medical help from the Texas National Guard to handle the expected increase in serious cases.
In a Thursday afternoon press conference, Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins said he needs help from the federal government. He said he’s made many requests to the federal government to try to help DFW.
Jenkins is asking for 400 more tests a day since Dallas’ two drive-thru testing sites have maxed out of their tests and shut down early for the third day in a row. Currently, each site can only perform 250 tests each day. But the judge says testing is getting less important every day.
“It’s getting less important every day. Because the more they let this get out of control, the more difficult it is to do disease tracing,” he said. “It was important to have those tests two weeks ago. It’s still important to have those tests today.”
Jenkins is also asking for help from the National Guard. He said not in a law enforcement capacity, but on a medical mission and is asking specifically for nurses from the National Guard.
“These are epidemiologist nurses that support our epidemiology team. This is not law enforcement. But they will be wearing military uniforms going door to door doing contact tracing,” Jenkins explained. “In other words, if a person gets sick and they were around other people, then we have to do disease detective work, also known as epidemiological, tracing so that we can find the people they’ve been around to keep you all safe.”
Jenkins is also asking for nurses and doctors to staff a 250-bed mobile hospital that the county has just secured. He does not know where that will go yet or when it will open, but he says it will not be right away.
There are about 4,000 hospital beds and more than 400 ICU beds available in DFW. The judge said that our construction industry in Texas is robust, and if we need them to start building hospitals, then we’ll start building hospitals.
“We need help. We need our partners to move faster. We need those in our regions who have not moved to head to the scientific advice to do it now. Every day we wait costs lives,” Jenkins said. “Every day that we wait causes us to have less hospital beds, and I don’t want us to get there.”
The Old Parkland Hospital will be used to quarantine people who are sick and need to be away from their families.
There were several regional calls on Thursday involving county judges from across north Texas who were trying to work together to be strategic.