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Local County Rescinds COVID Emergency

State

Judge Tim O'Hare | Image by WFAA

Tarrant County Judge Tim O’Hare has rescinded the county’s declaration of emergency for the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Based on my authority under Texas law, I am rescinding Tarrant County’s Emergency Declaration related to Covid-19 effective immediately,” he tweeted on January 13.

On March 13, 2020, then-Tarrant County Judge Glen Whitely issued a Declaration of Local Disaster in response to the outbreak of COVID-19.

Tim O’Hare was elected county judge in November and assumed office on January 1, 2023. He explained in a document attached to his tweet that Tarrant County has effectively moved past the pandemic, and a declaration of emergency is no longer needed.

“Our county, state, and nation have risen to the challenges presented by this pandemic,” he wrote. “And while not without a heavy cost, as a people, we have succeeded in moving into the ‘new normal.'”

“Tarrant County is blessed with a first-rate medical community, anchored by public and private healthcare institutions, including JPS Health Network and our Level 1 trauma facility,” O’Hare continued. “I have complete faith in these institutions and the highly trained medical professionals who work tirelessly to serve their patients each and every day.”

“I also have enduring faith in the residents and business owners of Tarrant County to make the best decisions for themselves, their families, their customers, and our community,” he said. “It is time we re-embrace the full scope of our freedoms and the responsibilities that come with them.”

O’Hare clarified that COVID-19 “is still with us and may be here to stay” and that high-risk residents must “remain vigilant” and take precautions to protect themselves and their families.

The Dallas Express reached out to Tarrant County for additional comment from Judge O’Hare but received no response at the time of publication.

Dallas County is still under its declaration of emergency from the COVID-19 pandemic issued on March 12, 2020, by Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins.

The Dallas Express contacted Jenkins and asked if this emergency declaration should remain in place but received no response at the time of publication.

A declaration of local disaster allows public officials to exercise emergency powers in response to the disaster in question. Following Jenkins’ declaration, he issued several orders relating to COVID-19, including stay-at-home orders and mask mandates for public spaces.

While all of the counties in the metroplex issued declarations of local disaster in response to COVID-19 at the beginning of 2020, only Tarrant, Collin, and Johnson Counties have rescinded those declarations. Collin County Judge Chris Hill rescinded the county’s declaration on February 26, 2021. Johnson County’s declaration was rescinded by County Judge Roger Harmon on August 23, 2022.

Dallas, Denton, Rockwall, Kaufman, Ellis, and Hunt counties all remain under their respective emergency declarations.

Of the other major metropolitan areas across Texas, Travis County lifted its COVID-19 Declaration of Local Disaster in March of last year, while Bexar, Harris, and El Paso are still under their emergency declarations.

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