Hospitalizations near critical threshold in area that includes Galveston, Brazoria counties

BRAZORIA COUNTY, Texas – Nineteen counties in North Texas are facing new restrictions, after seven straight days where the percentage of COVID-19 hospitalizations topped 15%.

The counties near the Dallas-Fort Worth area passed the threshold that Gov. Greg Abbott set in an executive order. The threshold allows counties to roll back restrictions to alleviate the strain on the healthcare system.

Bars in the area must now close, while non-essential businesses like restaurants, retail stores and gyms must reduce capacity from 75 to 50%.

The restrictions will stay in place until the number of hospitalized COVID-19 patients drops below 15% for seven consecutive days.

While most Houston-area counties have not reached that threshold. Some sports in Galveston, Brazoria and Chambers County are seeing numbers increase. On Friday, the current hospital rate was 7.2% in Galveston County and 9.7% in Brazoria County.

With the new year fast approaching, COVID-19 is still alive and well. The number of positive cases and hospitalizations are on the rise.

“In September, we were down to about 15 cases per day now we are averaging 90 cases a day, over 100 cases reported today,” said Dr. Philip Keiser, an Infection Disease Specialist at the Galveston County Health District.

Galveston County Judge Mark Henry requested an exemption from the Governor if the hospital region reaches the 15 percent threshold. In a statement his office said:

Galveston County has made a request to the Texas Department of Emergency Management to be exempted from the automatic restrictions and closures that occur when a hospital region reaches the 15% COVID hospitalization rate. Based on SETRAC data, Galveston County’s local hospital capacity has not gone over 9% within the past week and in fact, has dropped over the past 2 days with a current rate of 7.2%. This includes transfers our county has taken in from places like El Paso and Jefferson County where they are struggling with local hospital capacity. We hope to receive an exemption from the state as soon as this afternoon so businesses and medical care providers can continue operating and providing services as needed to county residents.

Dr. Anthony Rogers in Brazoria County says they’re trying their part to stop the spread of the virus.

I know the county judge certainly doesn’t want to have to take a step back to closing the bars and decreasing the capacity rate of our restaurants but I’m sure if conditions warn that something he will have to think about.

Both doctors say they’re ready for the FDA to approve a vaccine so they can start the treated treatment process.