What to Know
- Percentage of patients hospitalized with COVID-19 tops 15% for seven straight days in TSA-E
- Non-essential businesses immediately must rollback reopening to previous restriction levels
- TSA-E must have seven straight days below 15% before restrictions will be lifted
For at least the next week, many North Texas businesses are now subject immediately to greater restrictions after seven straight days where the percentage of COVID-19 patients in area hospitals has topped 15%.
That 7-day mark is the threshold at which Gov. Greg Abbott outlined in executive order GA-32 where counties in Texas' 22 TSAs must rollback reopening restrictions to help alleviate the strain on the healthcare system.
To that end, all non-essential businesses, such as restaurants, retail stores, office buildings, manufacturing facilities, gyms and exercise facilities, museums and libraries, must immediately reduce occupancy levels from 75% to 50%. Bars in those TSAs, defined as establishments whose sales are 51% or more derived from alcohol, must also immediately close. Licensed hospitals are required to discontinue elective surgeries.
“This was anticipated," said Greenville Avenue Pizza Company owner Sammy Mandell. “It’s just kind of alerting the staff and making sure that we ramp up on as many protocols as we can and ensuring that we do our part in keeping everybody safe.”
As of Thursday evening, Mandell said there'd been no official announcement as to what time the new requirement would go into effect.
Tarrant County Judge Glen Whitley and Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins both told NBC DFW that per the Governor's order, it would be immediately.
"When the trigger is hit, the restrictions go into play," said Judge Whitley.
The restrictions enforced by GA-32 will remain in place until the number of hospitalized COVID-19 patients drops below 15% for seven consecutive days.
For Thursday, the Texas Department of State Health Services reported TSA-E's percentage of COVID-19 patients was 15.56%. That number, while still above the 15% threshold outlined by the governor, has dropped for two straight-days from a high of 16.4% on Dec. 1.
The following 19 counties are included in TSA E and are subject to the same restrictions unless that county separately qualifies for the greater occupancy levels because it has minimal cases of COVID-19 under the DSHS attestation process: Collin, Cooke, Dallas, Denton, Ellis, Erath, Fannin, Hood, Hunt, Kaufman, Johnson, Navarro, Parker, Palo Pinto, Rockwall, Somervell, Tarrant, Wise.
TSA-F, which is made up of Delta, Hopkins, Lamar and Red River counties, hit five straight days over 15% before dropping below that threshold on Thursday.
On Monday, TSA-M, which includes Bosque, Falls, Hill, Limestone and McLennan counties to the south, hit a seven-day stretch of more than 15% and immediately began restriction occupancy levels and closing bars. Through Thursday, TSA-M remains above 15%.