DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson has issued a proclamation declaring a local state of disaster after officials said Thursday that there is now evidence of a community spread of COVID-19 within the city.

The proclamation comes after it was announced during a news conference late Thursday evening that there are five more confirmed cases of coronavirus in Dallas County, bring the total to eight. Officials also said one of those who is infected is in Dallas and has no travel history, indicating a case of community spread.

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According to the mayor, the proclamation allows the City of Dallas to restrict community gatherings of more than 500 people and for officials to receive the daily number of COVID-19 tests performed at all public, private and commercial labs. This took effect immediately late Thursday evening and will last for at least seven days.

During the news conference Thursday, Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins also said there were will be county-wide restriction of these types of gatherings starting at 11 a.m. Friday and lasting until 11 a.m. Friday, March 20. He also said gatherings of 250 people or more are discouraged but not prohibited.

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“Given the evidence of community spread of COVID-19, this was a necessary step that gives the City the authority to do what it needs to do to protect the public health, safety, and welfare of our residents,” Mayor Johnson said. “We must do all that we can to slow the spread of the coronavirus and prevent serious illness and deaths in our city.”

Of the five new patients in Dallas County, four are Dallas residents and one is in Balch Springs. Two are hospitalized and the three others are isolated at their homes.

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“The symptoms are mild. But we must take this seriously. The numbers of cases will grow. And this virus is more lethal than the seasonal flu. Still, there’s absolutely no reason to panic,” Johnson said Friday.