Denton Public Library

Denton's Emily Fowler Central Library

City of Denton recreation centers and libraries closed at 5 p.m. Wednesday due to an increase in COVID-19 cases among city staffers.

The announcement came in a press release published shortly after 5 p.m. Wednesday. All facilities are tentatively scheduled to reopen on Jan. 6.

The Denton Animal Shelter closed on Dec. 27 because of the same issue. It is tentatively scheduled to reopen Jan. 5.

Recreation centers and libraries were already set to be closed Friday in observance of New Year’s Eve.

Warming centers will remain online if temperatures dip below freezing, and the Holiday Camp for children will remain in service.

Curbside pickup will not be available at Denton libraries, but readers can return their items in the drop-off locations at each library.

Tiffany Thomson, director of human resources for the city, said 73 staffers had tested positive for the coronavirus from Dec. 20-29. That does not account for staffers who have been exposed to the virus but had not tested positive by Wednesday evening.

“It obviously continues to increase with each and every day, significantly,” Thomson said.

She said the recent increase is the largest day-over-day increase in coronavirus infections among city staffers they’ve seen since the pandemic started.

“We’re really just staying on top of that, and we have been since [Dec. 20] when we started seeing this spike in cases,” she said.

Denton County Public Health Wednesday announced another 410 people across the county had tested positive for the coronavirus. That is the largest single-day increase in cases reported in the county since Oct. 13.

Cases are surging in the Denton and Denton County amid a testing shortage, which hampers public health officials’ ability to accurately track pandemic trends.

Mayor Gerard Hudspeth, reached by phone Wednesday, said city staffers are a subsection of the community and are weathering the pandemic surge like the rest of us, so increased infections are to be expected.

“I hope we see the same thing the community’s seeing — that people are bouncing back more quickly [from the virus],” Hudspeth said

The trick, he said, is making sure the city has enough workers to maintain the public’s business despite closures. For instance, animal shelter staffers are still working to make sure those animals are being taken care of despite being closed to the public.

Thomson said critical infrastructure, such as the Police Department, fire department, dispatchers, road crews and utilities, continue to function, but that her department continues to monitor infections to see if further closures are necessary.

“So, all operations behind the scenes are functioning,” she said.

MARSHALL REID can be reached at 940-566-6862 and via Twitter at @MarshallKReid.

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