Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) is charging forward with the state’s reopening process, announcing that businesses in 19 of 22 regions will be permitted to expand capacity next week.
On Thursday, Abbott announced he is allowing businesses in most areas of the state, including restaurants, retail stores, and gyms, to increase their occupancy from 50 percent to 75 percent. The governor is using hospitalization metrics to make the determinations on which areas are permitted to increase capacity:
This metric focuses on areas with high hospitalizations — referring to any Trauma Service Area (TSA) that has had seven consecutive days in which the number of COVID-19 hospitalized patients as a percentage of all hospitalized patients exceeds 15%, until such time as the TSA has seven consecutive days in which the number of COVID-19 hospitalized patients as a percentage of all hospitalized patients is 15% or less.
Beginning Monday, September 21, 19 of 22 TSAs will be permitted to increase capacity. The remaining areas must maintain a 50 percent capacity. Those TSAs include Calhoun, DeWitt, Goliad, Jackson, Lavaca, Victoria, Jim Hogg, Webb, Zapata, Cameron, Hidalgo, Starr, and Willacy counties.
Additionally, Abbott authorized the hospitals in most areas of the state to resume elective surgeries and issued updated guidelines on nursing home visits:
Effective immediately, 19 hospital regions in Texas can resume elective surgeries.
— Gov. Greg Abbott (@GovAbbott) September 17, 2020
Under the new rules, residents will be allowed to designate up to two essential family caregivers who will be provided necessary training to allow them to safely go inside a facility for a scheduled visit, including in the resident’s room, to help ensure their loved one’s physical, social, and emotional needs are being met. Designated caregivers will not be required to maintain physical distancing, but only one caregiver can visit a resident at a time.
“With the medical advancements we have made and the personal hygiene practices we have adopted, Texans have shown that we can address both the health and safety concerns of COVID-19 while also taking careful, measured steps to restore the livelihoods that Texans depend on,” Abbott said in a statement, reminding Texans to remain vigilant and continue to “heed the guidance of medical experts by wearing a mask, social distancing, and practicing proper sanitation strategies.”
“By maintaining health and safety standards that are proven to mitigate COVID-19, we can continue to slow the spread while opening up the Texas economy,” he added.
The Lone Star State reported 678,819 confirmed cases of the virus and 14,590 related fatalities as of Friday afternoon.