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Brazos County Judge expecting to rescind orders after increase in hospitalizations

Bars would have to close immediately. Other businesses would reduce their occupancy to 50%
Published: Dec. 28, 2020 at 3:37 PM CST|Updated: Dec. 28, 2020 at 9:09 PM CST
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BRYAN, Texas (KBTX) - Brazos County Judge Duane Peters is making plans to rescind his request with the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission that allowed bars and other businesses to operate at 75 percent capacity, after receiving word from the Department of State Health Services Monday.

Brazos County, which is grouped into Region N with the state, has seen seven days straight where total COVID-19 patients in hospitals have risen above the 15 percent threshold. Governor Abbott’s statewide orders say that when a region sees seven days of occupancy above the 15 percent, occupancy must be reduced to 50 percent.

The letter to Judge Peters from DSHS reads:

“Dear Judge Peters: On Wednesday, October 7, 2020, Governor Abbott issued Executive Order GA-32, which supersedes GA-30. Significantly, GA-32 updates the thresholds for areas with high hospitalizations. The new definition of areas with high hospitalizations is Any Trauma Service Area (TSA) that has had seven consecutive days in which the number of COVID-19 hospitalized patients as a percentage of total hospital capacity exceeds 15 percent, until such time as the Trauma Service Area has seven consecutive days in which the number of COVID-19 hospitalized patients as a percentage of total hospital capacity is 15 percent or less.

Under the criteria laid out in GA-32, your area, TSA N, meets the definition of a high hospitalization area and so may not conduct elective surgeries or reopen to the higher levels allowable under GA-32.

TSA N includes the following counties:

• Brazos

• Burleson

• Grimes

• Leon

• Madison

• Robertson

• Washington

Data on hospitalizations may be found at: dshs.texas.gov/ga3031/.

GA-32 allows counties in TSAs with high hospitalizations to choose to operate at 75 percent capacity if:

• the county has fewer than 30 cases reported over the last 14 days, and

• the county judge submits an attestation to DSHS.”

Once Judge Peters rescinds his order, any establishment that gets 51 percent of their revenue from alcohol sales must close immediately, per the TABC. Other businesses would be required to reduce occupancy to 50 percent until the region had seven days under the 15 percent hospital occupancy threshold.

“Any reduction in workforce, of the number of people being able to go into restaurants, that’s not the county judge. That’s not the mayors. It is the governor’s orders. That’s what we’re supposed to follow,” said Judge Peters.

The Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission updated its dashboard Monday, removing Brazos, Grimes, Burleson, and Washington Counties from its list of counties allowed to have bars open.

Representatives with the TABC tell News Three’s Kendall Hogan that once off the list, establishments that make 51% or more of their total revenue from alcohol sales have to close immediately.

Click here to read Governor Abbot’s order and which businesses would be impacted.

As a part of the Governor’s orders, Hospitals are supposed to halt elective surgeries. Baylor Scott & White Health in College Station released this statement to KBTX Monday:

Currently, Baylor Scott & White Medical Center – College Station has sufficient capacity. We have been able to continue caring for our patients because of enhanced safety measures and protections in place across our hospitals, surgery centers and clinics, in accordance with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidance and recommendations by our clinical experts to safeguard our patients’ health and well-being—as well as that of our caregivers—from COVID-19.

However, the number of patients in need of care for COVID-19 infections has increased. To continue ensuring that our hospitals are ready for those who need care most during this time, we have recently begun working with our patients to reschedule non-emergent procedures that require an overnight stay.

As we approach the New Year and with vaccines now arriving in our state, there is much hope on the horizon. In the meantime, we ask for continued vigilance. The safety and well-being of our community starts with each member and the decisions we each make. We ask that the public continue the sense of urgency shown in following the recommended guidelines of physical distancing, masking, and hand hygiene. Each member of the community has a role to play in preventing hospitalizations and intensive care unit admissions while protecting ourselves, our loved ones and our communities.”

According to the state’s website, Region N includes Brazos, Burleson, Grimes, Leon, Madison, Robertson and Washington County. The COVID-19 hospitalization for Region N has been above 15 percent since Dec. 22. Only Leon, Madison and Robertson Counties have submitted and qualified for an attestation for businesses to continue operating at 75 percent.

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