Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins on Saturday banned elective medical procedures through April 3 so health care resources can be steered toward patients with COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus.
Throughout the state, many medical providers have already started canceling or delaying elective procedures themselves.
Nearly 100 people in his county have tested positive for the virus. Jenkins' new directive to begin focusing medical resources toward combatting the virus came on the same day that Gov. Greg Abbott loosened some licensing regulations for nurses in hopes of luring more health care workers to the front lines.
In his revised emergency order Saturday, Jenkins directed health care professionals to start identifying patients whose procedures can be canceled or postponed, "considering the emergency need for redirection of resources to the COVID-19 response."
Jenkins' revised order also closes hair salons, barber shops, tattoo parlors and other businesses where people can't maintain six feet of distance from each other while non-medical personal services are provided. He also limited how much toilet paper can buy at a time.
Meanwhile, the Texas Department of State Health Services' statewide numbers for positive cases don't provide a clear picture of how the disease is impacting certain parts of Texas. One reason is that the state's numbers lag behind what local officials are disclosing. For instance, the state on Saturday released numbers showing there were 29 Dallas County residents who have tested positive. Dallas County officials reported 95 positive cases among its residents.
In addition, the state numbers may not represent all cases of the disease given limited testing. As testing expands, the number of Texas cases are expected to increase exponentially. Abbott on Thursday said that tens of thousands of Texans could test positive within weeks.