The percentage of hospital beds occupied by COVID-19 patients in North Texas exceeded 20% Thursday for the third straight day, state data shows.
Trauma Service Area E, which covers 19 North Texas counties, including Collin, Dallas, Denton and Tarrant counties, reached 20% for the first time Wednesday and climbed to 20.52% Thursday, according to the Texas Department of State Health Services.
The percentage is significant because it's the metric that triggered a rollback of Texas Gov. Greg Abbott's (R) reopening measures in late November. When the percentage of hospital beds occupied by COVID-19 patients in the Trauma Service Area reached 15% or higher on the seventh day in a row, it forced bars to close, nonessential businesses to reduce capacity to 50% from 75% and for hospitals to halt elective surgeries.
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TSA E reached Abbott's threshold Nov. 27, and the rate has exceeded 15% nearly every day since -- the lone exception a brief dip Dec. 5-6.
For bars to reopen, nonessential business capacity to increase and elective surgeries to resume, the hospitalization rate must be below 15% for seven consecutive days.
In terms of raw numbers, hospitalizations in North Texas were at a high Thursday not seen during the pandemic. According to state data, 3,276 people in Trauma Service Area E were hospitalized with COVID-19, the fifth straight day of more than 3,000.
During the coronavirus' summer surge in North Texas, hospitalizations never reached 2,000.
Texas' Trauma Service Areas are 22 regional bodies made up of Texas' 254 counties. North Texas falls into seven different TSAs. Just more than half of the counties in North Texas are grouped in TSA-E.
According to the North Central Texas Trauma Regional Advisory Council, "TSA-E is the largest Trauma Service Area in the state, serving a population greater than 26% of the population of Texas. That is approximately 2% of the population of the United States."