DENTON, Texas - Denton County followed Tarrant and Collin counties by declaring a stay-at-home order.
Denton County's new order will go into effect at 11:59 p.m. Wednesday.
Judge Andy Eads said he made the decision to issue the order because the number of coronavirus cases in Denton County continues to grow.
“Sometimes you have to decide between two bad choices and I am erring on the side of saving lives,” Eads said. “It is incumbent upon all of us to stay at home and limit our interactions with individuals now.”
Businesses that are not considered essential should either allow employees to work from home temporarily or cease operations until given the all-clear.
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Judge Eads said with the businesses doing their part, each individual also has a responsibility to stay at home. Residents should limit their actions to just the necessities of getting supplies, handling medical issues and for some going to work to keep essential businesses in operation in Denton County, he said.
Denton County is dealing both the spread within the general public and concerns over an outbreak at the Denton State Assisted Living Facility.
“We’re very concerned about the spread because of the close proximity of the residents there and the interchange they have with their caregivers,” Eads said. “We have over 1,000 caregivers there.”
Denton city and county leaders have asked for help to possibly put up an independent hospital at the assisted living facility. Its 400 residents have developmental disabilities, with about 1,000 people caring for them. About 100 people were tested on Wednesday morning. Right now, there’s not enough tests to go around.
“We are certainly concerned for all the residents there and the employees. We’re going to be asking for special assistance from the state government,” said Denton Mayor Chris Watts.
Under the stay at home order, small businesses like Juliette’s Jewels in Denton will be closing its doors. Owner Angela Dawa Juliette Sangmu specializes in handmade goods from India, Thailand and Nepal.
“I just got back from a trip two weeks ago,” she said. “So now with all my new merchandise, I’ll have to figure out how to get it out there.”
But Sangmu, who’s been a business owner in this community for 19 years, says she’s less worried about her shop and more concerned about the health of her neighbors.
“It’s really tricky because you know at the same time a lot of people are having a hard time,” she said. “So I haven’t done much advertising because people are far worse off than I am.”
When it comes to enforcing the order, the county will try to educate first and make arrests only if necessary.
“We want people to adopt the spirit of what we’d like to achieve,” Eads said.
Denton’s order will be in effect for seven days unless extended.