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Dallas County reduces coronavirus risk alert for first time since May

"People need to remain vigilant. This does not at all mean that we can let up," said Dallas County health director Dr. Philip Huang.

Updated at 6:21 p.m. with additional comments from Dallas leaders. 

Dallas County health officials have reduced the coronavirus risk alert from "stay home, stay safe" to "extreme caution." 

Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins said people should continue to wear masks and practice physical distancing but said people can venture out more now. 

Jenkins said young students, between pre-kindergarten and second grade, can return to school. But middle school and high school students should wait.

People can have small groups in their homes – as long as everyone wears a mask. 

"This means you can have a few people over, preferably less than 10," Jenkins said.

Folks who do not have underlying high-risk health conditions and are under the age of 65 can dine in groups at restaurants as long as tables are spaced 6 feet apart.

Restaurant staff members and people who are not eating should continue to wear masks.

"Everyone needs to continue to wear a mask, wash your hands and watch your distance," Jenkins said.

Many different activities that involve going inside buildings are also now considered to be safe as long there is still 25% capacity. Some of these include getting haircuts, going to the swimming pool and bowling.

County and city leaders are urging the public to remain cautious over the holiday weekend. 

"Labor Day has to be like July 4th was, not like Memorial Day," Jenkins said. 

Coronavirus cases spiked in Dallas County and across the state after Memorial Day. A statewide mask mandate was put into place before Independence Day. 

Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson said a reduction in coronavirus cases is positive, but he reminded residents that they are still at risk. 

"We can't let up now. You are still at risk. We are still in a pandemic," Johnson said. 

Credit: Dallas County Health and Human Services
Dallas County health officials have established a COVID-19 risk level.

Moving into the orange risk level doesn't mean it's OK to act like everything is as it was before the COVID-19 pandemic. 

"People need to remain vigilant. This does not at all mean that we can let up," said Dallas County health director Dr. Philip Huang. "As we move from red to orange, it doesn't mean we can open up and just do everything and go back to normal."

Huang also reminded people to continue wearing masks that fully cover their mouths and noses. 

"You've got to cover your nose," he said. 

Dallas mayor on COVID-19 before Labor Day:

Quarantine housing program

The county also announced Wednesday a new quarantine housing program for residents. 

According to a news release, the program will provide temporary housing for anyone diagnosed with COVID-19, who needs to quarantine for 14 to 21 days but can’t return home. 

County health officials said this applies to situations where the person may have immunocompromised relatives, elderly parents, or any other at-risk family members.

The program is also only available for people who live within Dallas County, but outside Dallas city limits.

Health care providers may submit a referral application for someone but it does not guarantee eligibility or offer of assistance, officials said.

Dallas County health officials said applications will be reviewed and recommended based on the meeting of eligibility requirements.

The housing program is funded through the CARES Act and is expected to remain in operation through Dec. 30.

Click here to applications, eligibility requirements, and housing details. Residents can also call 214-819-5143 with additional questions.

Dallas County officials on coronavirus risk level: