Sustained COVID Hospitalization Increases Trigger Mandatory Rollback

Local and state officials had warned it could happen, but Thursday’s COVID-19 hospitalizations officially created the scenario that would trigger a state-mandated rollback for businesses like bars, gyms, and retail stores.

In October, Gov. Greg Abbott issued an executive order that outlined a “ratchet back” plan if some areas experience spikes. 

That order mandates that trauma service regions that have COVID-19 patients in more than 15% of their beds for seven consecutive days will trigger rollbacks, such as bar closures; reduction of occupancy for restaurants, stores, movie theaters, and bowling alleys to 50%; and postponement of elective procedures.

Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins warned earlier today that the rollback was coming.

Earlier this week, Matt Goodman at our sister publication, D Magazine, took a look at the increased hospitalizations and increasing numbers of positive tests.

“The NCTTRAC data show that COVID patients account for a quarter of the census of Tarrant County hospitals,” he wrote. “In the 19 counties that make up our Trauma Region E, 20.2 percent of hospital beds are occupied by COVID patients.”

Shortly before 8 p.m. Thursday, Dallas County announced that Trauma Region E had indeed reached that seven-day mark, and that benchmark had triggered the rollback.

“Businesses whose occupancy rates were increased to 75% in October through GA-32 are immediately reduced back to 50%,” the county’s statement said. “This includes all restaurants, retail stores, office buildings, manufacturing facilities, gyms and exercise facilities and classes, museums, and libraries in Dallas County and the other counties comprising TSA-E.”

A full list of affected businesses can be located at https://open.texas.gov/.  The area will remain under the new restrictions until there are seven consecutive days where the percentage of COVID-19 patients in hospitals as a percentage of available beds is at 15% or less.

Bethany Erickson

Bethany Erickson, deputy editor at People Newspapers, cut her teeth on community journalism, starting in Arkansas. Recently, she's taken home a few awards for her writing, including first place for her tornado coverage from the National Newspapers Association's 2020 Better Newspaper Contest, a Gold award for Best Series at the 2018 National Association of Real Estate Editors journalism awards, a 2018 Hugh Aynesworth Award for Editorial Opinion from the Dallas Press Club, and a 2019 award from NAREE for a piece linking Medicaid expansion with housing insecurity. She is a member of the Education Writers Association, the Society of Professional Journalists, the National Association of Real Estate Editors, the News Leaders Association, the News Product Alliance, and the Online News Association. She doesn't like lima beans, black licorice or the word synergy. You can reach her at [email protected].

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