Governor Abbott held a press conference today at which he announced that restaurants and retail in Texas are allowed to increase from 50% capacity to 75% capacity in most of the state. He also stated that in a week, visitations will be permitted at most senior care facilities. Bars are still ordered to remain closed.
The Governor stressed that the standard used to determine who can increase capacity is the percentage of hospital beds occupied by Covid-19 patients in a particular hospital region. When a region reaches 15% or fewer Covid-19 beds for seven consecutive days, that region is eligible to increase to 75%. Today, of the 22 hospital regions in Texas, 19 have achieved the standard and can increase from 50% to 75% capacity. Three hospital regions, Lower Rio Grande, Lubbock and Victoria are above the 15% level and can not expand capacity until they meet the standard.
Governor Abbott stressed that to maintain these hospitalization levels, Texans will have to continue social distancing, sanitizing, staying home when they are ill and wearing face masks in public. If a region exceeds the 15% hospital bed standard for seven consecutive days, that region will be subject to capacity reductions.
Bars, the Governor said, are proven to increase the spread of the disease. Some bar owners and bar associations have offered some methods that, if put into place, might help to contain virus spread. Texas will continue to evaluate the situation and work toward a day when bars can reopen.
Visitations at Senior living facilities will start on September 24th to give facilities time to prepare. To qualify, the facility must not have Covid-19 infections.
Since July, the Governor said hospital cases of Covid-19 have fallen by two-thirds and cases have declined by one-half. The unemployment rate is about 50% of the rate in April. These results are because Texans are acting responsibly and following the safety guidelines. This must continue.
Lt. Governor Patrick, Speaker Bonnen and other state leaders shared the stage with the Governor and made supportive remarks. Most of those who spoke praised the Governor’s leadership and the tough decisions he made in the face of opposition. They also thanked the first responders, hospital workers and the grocery store workers who have put their lives on hold to serve Texans.