FILE - Dallas skyline

Dallas skyline

(The Center Square) – Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins issued the first shelter-in-place order in the state of Texas after confirming a third COVID-19-related death in Dallas County.

“This order is our best chance to flatten the curve here in Dallas County and save as many lives as possible," Jenkins said.

According to Dr. Philip Huang, Dallas County would reach a critical point in demand for hospital beds on April 12 without such an order. With it, hospitals are anticipated to reach full capacity by April 28.

The goal of the order is to not exceed Dallas County hospital capacity, Jenkins said.

The order goes through midnight April 3, however, it could be extended. The order requires all county residents to "stay safe, stay at home.” All non-essential businesses are ordered to close in-person operations.

Exceptions to staying at home include going to the doctor or receiving medical treatment, going to the grocery store, exercising outside or any other outdoor activity that contributes to a person’s health or safety while maintaining social distancing.

More than 200 positive cases of COVID-19 have been reported in North Texas as testing has increased, KHOU-11 reports.

A second drive-thru testing center opened on Sunday at the Ellis Davis Field House in Dallas. The American Airlines Center was the first location to open in Dallas last week.

Both testing centers are open 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. every day. Before people consider being tested, they must meet certain requirements.

Gov. Greg Abbott announced Sunday he would not implement a statewide shelter-in-place order, but is giving the option to local authorities to do so.

The governor waived all nursing restrictions in the state to allow retired nurses, certain nurses in their final year of nursing school, and nurses with inactive licenses to practice medicine, in order to address a nursing shortage in the state.

Through a new executive order, the state is now fast-tracking licenses for out-of-state medical professionals and has required all hospitals to suspend all non-essential surgeries. The order also allows hospitals to treat more than one patient in a room to consolidate space.

Regarding a statewide shelter-in-place order, Abbot said, "What may be right for places like larger areas [Dallas, Houston and Austin] may not be right in this point in time for those smaller areas. Local officials have full authority at the local level to implement stricter standards. I applaud them for doing so but at this time it is not the proper approach to mandate that for everyone in the state.”

Abbott also created a task force to help with the production of personal protective equipment (PPEs) for healthcare professionals and first responders.

"We've been asking the federal government to accelerate the supply of resources from the government," Abbott said. "Right now the delivery dates for the equipment is in July, and that's not going to work. We need it tomorrow."

Several North Texas health professionals, Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson, Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price and Arlington Mayor Jeff Williams wrote a joint letter to Gov. Abbott calling on him to issue a state-wide shelter-in-place order.

"We respectfully request that you consider issuing mandatory shelter-in-place orders for the State of Texas, or at minimum, that you very strongly recommend 'Safer at Home' directives fashioned in a similar nature to those implemented in New York and California," they wrote.

Dallas County residents are allowed to leave their residences to exercise outside or to perform activities necessary to their health or safety, according to the order. Residences include hotels, motels, shared rentals and similar facilities.

Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART) is still open under the order.

"DART is a first responder at this point," Jenkins said.

All religious services are required to be performed online through video or teleconference only.

Restaurants are still allowed to serve drive-thru or takeout.

News media outlets, first responders and essential government employees are exempt from the order.

Hospitals, veterinary services and other essential healthcare facilities are still operational, under the order.