County News Conference

Denton County Judge Andy Eads confirms the first COVID-19-related death in Denton County, while letting the public know about the crisis hotline during a news conference at the Denton County Commissioners Court on March 26.

Public health, state contracts and an extension of the county’s stay-at-home order — a trio of important agenda items relating to COVID-19 will be discussed during Tuesday morning’s meeting of the Denton County Commissioners Court.

The meeting will be held via videoconference and is scheduled to begin at 9 a.m. Tuesday.

With 33 new cases of the novel coronavirus confirmed as of Monday, county commissioners are expected to extend the current disaster declaration and stay-at-home mandate until April 30, said Dawn Cobb, Denton County spokeswoman. She said the updated declaration would be aligned in conjunction with Gov. Greg Abbott’s executive order.

“However, [county commissioners] will continue to review [the mandate] weekly to see if any changes need to be made as we continue through this situation,” Cobb said in an email Monday.

Meanwhile, an award contract is expected to be approved between the Texas Department of State Health Services and Denton County, according to an agenda item. The contract is designed to reduce local transmission of the virus and to minimize morbidity and mortality rates, while working to preserve the functionality of medical workforce and infrastructure.

The total value of the contract is $573,124. Included in the contract is funding for equipment ($11,000) and supplies ($41,575).

Those supplies include 20 packs of personal protective equipment, such as N95 respirator masks, gowns and gloves. Additional supplies include 50 laser thermometers and six powered air-purifying respirators — designed to safeguard workers against contaminated air. As well, 50 specimen collection kits needed for COVID-19 testing are included.

Cobb said that equipment includes a freezer that will be used for storage of COVID-19 samples.

Matt Richardson, director of Denton County Public Health, also will update commissioners on the county’s response to the novel coronavirus outbreak.

A total of 337 cases have been confirmed in the county since March 15. Richardson said it’s too soon to know whether the curve was beginning to flatten, but noted Sunday that the county’s mandate was working.

“We’re not seeing an explosion of additional cases, so we think the stay-at-home order is having an intended effect of limiting human-to-human interaction and transmission,” Richardson said. “It’s hard to speculate if that trend will continue, but we think it’s working, but time will tell to the degree it works and also the public’s patience to stay at home.”

RYAN HIGGS can be reached at 940-566-6889 and via Twitter at @ryanahiggs.

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