Coronavirus still has most of Dallas and Texas inside, with orders laid down by agencies at all levels: from the local city governments at the bottom, to the county officials in the middle, to the state government at the top which supersedes all.
Here’s a summary of where we’re at at every level, and some related coronavirus news:
City COVID-19 orders
The Dallas City Council voted on April 22 to extend the declaration of disaster for the city to May 15. A declaration of disaster sets the table for other orders like stay at home, and also creates the scenario where a city could get disaster relief funds from the federal government. The council also voted to tie its timeline/dates to whatever the state says. So that’s one less government edict on your list.
County COVID-19 orders
Dallas County Commissioners have extended the stay-at-home order until May 15. Commissioners John Wiley Price and J.J. Koch are starting to nitpick decisions that have been made by Judge Clay Jenkins, such as his recent decree that masks are mandatory.
Koch, who is prone to excitable videos, said he wants to wait and see how things go in states such as crazy Georgia which is reopening businesses despite a rise in coronavirus deaths. Price, who worries about the barbershops in his district, is prone to uttering sentences like, “I still find it abhorrent that we have no plan, even if the plan has a caveat.”
Jenkins also tried to appoint three people as part of his emergency response team, including his former campaign manager Philip Haigh, former Dallas mayor candidate Miguel Solis, and Patricia Nava, who would make $76,037 per year. After raising questions about their qualifications, the commissioners postponed their hire.
State COVID-19 orders
Retail stores in Texas are open, but only curbside. Elective medical procedures such as tests are now allowed. State parks are open, but with groups of five or less. Everyone who goes to one must wear a mask.
Gov. Greg Abbott will issue a new executive order on April 27 regarding openings of other businesses, which he has hinted might include restaurants.
Coronavirus relief for Dallas
At its April 22 meeting, the Dallas City Council approved nearly $20 million in support for coronavirus relief. Called “Putting Our People First,” the program will provide rent and mortgage payments for people who’ve lost jobs and support small business in disadvantaged neighborhoods.
The Mortgage and Rental Assistance program will offer $6.1 million in rental and mortgage aid. Combined with already-existing programs, $13.7 million is available. Assistance will provide up to $1,500 for a maximum of three months per eligible household. Applicants must be Dallas residents who lost their jobs or were furloughed due to COVID-19. The program is expected to open during the first week of May.
The Small Business Continuity Fund will provide up to $10,000 in grants and up to $50,000 in low-cost loans to small businesses affected by COVID-19. Businesses must prove they were in operation for a minimum of six months prior to March 16, and must be low- to moderate-income (LMI) microbusiness owners and/or businesses that employ (or previously employed) at least 51 percent LMI workers. The total fund is $5 million and will go live in May for grants and loans to begin in June.
Katy Trail alphabet
The Katy Trail, which runs through one of Dallas’ most populated areas from Uptown to downtown and has seen problematic crowds since the shelter-in-place order went into effect, has an amazing new rule implemented by Dallas Park and Recreation in an effort to manage the number of users over the weekends: according to their last name.
Thursdays and Saturdays are for people whose last names start with A through L.
Fridays and Sundays are for people whose last names start with M through Z.
Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, the trail is open to all, regardless of what your last name is.
Did you know that more than 60 percent of people’s last names begin with A through L? The people going to the trail on Fridays and Sundays have lucked out. And if you’re one of those high-maintenance types with a hyphenated last name, and your two last names land in both categories, you’ve totally scored.
The new rule went into effect on April 23, and officers have already been out enforcing it.