Yesterday, Denton County Judge Andy Eads announced a stay at home order for the county in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. It will go into effect at 11:59 p.m. on March 25.
The order is currently set to last for one week, but its duration may be changed by the Commissioners Court.
As of March 24, Denton County reported that a total of 70 confirmed coronavirus cases — one of which was in Highland Village while there were five in both Flower Mound and Lewisville — and zero reported deaths.
Senior and M.E.D.S. club officer Noor Khader believes that Eads made the right decision to combat the coronavirus.
“I support the decision because the spread is so contagious… and it’s similar to the nation’s response as a whole,” Khader said.
Under this order, Denton county residents will be required to stay at home or current residence. They will only be permitted to leave for essential activities. These include picking up medication, going to the doctor, going grocery shopping, caring for a family member or pet in another household and exercising outside.
“I think it’s a must to be able to allow people to leave their houses for basic needs and as long as they follow the classic rules,” Khader said. “Social distancing is the one we’re being told the most. Obviously wash your hands. Things like that. As long as they practice that I think it should definitely be allowed.”
All businesses in the county will be required to close unless they are an essential business, including medical facilities, grocery stores, pharmacies and gas stations. Restaurants will also be allowed to remain open if they are offering delivery, carry out or drive-through meals. Any residents that work at an essential business will be permitted to do so.
Junior Owen Watson works at the Chick-fil-A in Flower Mound, which will continue to serve customers through its drive-through for the next week. He is currently scheduled to work during that time.
“I think it’s all right because we shut down the dining rooms so it’s just drive-through,” Watson said. “It’s low risk for people getting infected because it’s only people coming through in their cars and there’s not that environment of people sitting two feet from each other.”
Additionally, all gatherings of any number of people that don’t live together will be prohibited and religious services will only be permitted through video. All elective medical, surgical and dental procedures will also be cancelled or rescheduled so more resources can be used to combat COVID-19.
Not following the order will be punishable with a fine of up to $1,000 fine or 180 days in jail.
“I think that it’s necessary in the sense that people need to follow the rules and it’s a method of enforcing them,” Khader said.
While Watson said that there will always be some people who don’t follow the rules and inevitably cause problems, he believes that the community has handled the COVID-19 pandemic well so far.
“Work at Chick-fil-A has been pretty slow, so there’s not a lot of people,” Watson said. “How it usually is, there’s always a huge line at the drive-through and that’s slowed down a lot, so I think that’s a good sign for people taking it seriously.”
Although this will be the first stay at home order placed on Denton County in response to the coronavirus, restrictions are already in place. On Monday, March 23, county health officials announced that they would be limiting all gatherings to a maximum of 10 people and closing public bars, commercial amusement establishments, theaters, gyms and other businesses that do not sell essential household items.
Many other counties in Texas have taken similar precautions against the coronavirus. Dallas County’s shelter in place order went into effect on March 23, while Hunt County’s went into place on March 24. Austin, Bexar County, Collin County, El Paso County, Harris County and Tarrant County all issued stay at home orders, which went into effect on March 24 as well.
“The virus is a matter of literal life or death for a lot of people and it needs to be taken seriously,” Khader said.