UPDATE: 4/17/20 11:30 AM: Commissioner J.J. Koch’s amendment to remove enforcement from mask mandate passes 3-2.

UPDATE 4/17/20 8:40 AM: Yesterday at 1:20 PM, County Judge Clay Jenkins told WFAA: “I don’t contemplate the need for government of this requirement.” 

UPDATE 4/16/20 8:48 PM: Commissioner J.J. Koch said in a Facebook Live video that he asked for the county administrator to call for an emergency meeting. 

UPDATE 4/16/20 8:26 PM: Commissioner John Wiley Price told The Texan that County Judge Clay Jenkins did not inform the commissioners of his plan to mandate masks and intends to call an emergency meeting Friday. Commissioner J.J. Koch confirmed Jenkins did not tell the court. Both Price and Koch expressed misgivings that more restrictions are not being connected with reopening businesses. 

On Wednesday, Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins, who acts as a spokesperson for the commissioners court, issued an order mandating everyone over the age of 2 to wear a face mask or face civil and criminal penalties.

The order reads in part:

“Effective at 11:59 p.m. on April 17, 2020, to the greatest extent possible all persons over the age of two (2) shall wear some form of covering over their nose and mouth, such as a homemade mask, scarf, bandana or handkerchief, when patronizing an Essential Business or using public transportation pursuant to the rules outlined in Exhibit G. Parents and Guardians of children under 10 shall be responsible for appropriately masking children pursuant to this Order.”

Non-medical staff at essential businesses are also under the mandate, and business owners may refuse service to any customer not wearing a mask.

Later, the order adds:

“The Dallas County Sheriff’s Office, the Dallas County Fire Marshal’s Office, and other peace officers, are hereby authorized to enforce this Order. A violation of this order may be punishable through criminal or civil enforcement. A violation of this Order is a misdemeanor punishable by a fine not to exceed $1,000 and/or confinement in jail for a term not to exceed 180 days.”

This action comes just days after Travis County and the City of Austin announced similar mandates with accompanying penalties for disobedience.

“I cannot politely describe my feelings about these totalitarian actions I am witnessing,” 2019 Conservative Leader Award winner Eugene Ralph told Texas Scorecard.

Last week, Texas Scorecard reported how Dallas County is continuing to use flawed data to guide their coronavirus response policies, and how there is a significant decline in emergency room visits and patient volume at medical facilities in Texas and other states.

Data shared by Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson showed that of the only 1,150 confirmed coronavirus cases in Dallas County, 500 have been hospitalized. More than 2,100 patients with the flu have been hospitalized over the same four-week period.

Dallas County models assumed that out of the 650,000 who it claims will contract the virus, 62 percent will require a ventilator. However, sources told Texas Scorecard on April 3 that there were, in fact, just 13 coronavirus patients on ventilators at Parkland Hospital, and most of the patients who died had an underlying condition.

On April 7, after a grassroots uprising forced Jenkins to walk back his threat to extend Dallas County’s shelter-in-place order to May 20, Dallas County’s commissioners restricted his authority. He must now seek permission from the commissioners before extending shelter-in-place beyond April 30.

Texas Scorecard has sent inquiries to the Dallas commissioners, asking if they voted for the face mask mandate and how these additional rules Jenkins continues to issue are affecting the communities in their districts.

District 1 Commissioner Dr. Theresa Daniel: Theresa.daniel@dallascounty.org, 214-653-7473
District 2 Commissioner J.J. Koch: jj.koch@dallascounty.org, 214-653-6100
District 3 Commissioner John Wiley Price: John.Price@dallascounty.org, 214-653-6671
District 4 Commissioner Dr. Elba Garcia: Elba.GarciaDDS@dallascounty.org. 214-653-6670

Robert Montoya

Born in Houston, Robert Montoya is an investigative reporter for Texas Scorecard. He believes transparency is the obligation of government.