North Texas COVID-19 Hospitalizations Could Trigger Tighter Restrictions, Halt Elective Surgeries

Businesses would have to reduce capacity and bars must close again if hospitalizations continue to climb above 15%

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North Texas could hit a dangerous milestone Thursday that could trigger new closures and restrictions aimed at slowing the spread of the novel coronavirus.

Wednesday marked six consecutive days the North Texas region saw COVID-related hospitalizations above 15%.

If that gets to seven straight days new restrictions could be triggered for 19 North Texas counties, including the entire Dallas-Fort Worth area, under a plan put in place by Gov. Greg Abbott (R) to keep hospitals from being overwhelmed.

If those restrictions are put back in place, most businesses, including restaurants, stores, offices and gyms, will go from being allowed to operate under 75% capacity to only 50% capacity; all bars in those areas, businesses whose sales are 51% or more in alcohol, must close entirely.

If new restrictions take effect, some elective surgeries could also be halted to save bed space at area hospitals.

"Rolling back is a good start, as far as capacity, but in order to really bring down the numbers, there will have to be some additional restrictions. I know it's always a delicate balance," said University of North Texas Health Science Center epidemiologist Dr. Diana Cervantes.

That possibility has a Dallas doctor bracing for the fallout that could come from more restrictions.

Dr. William Phillips with Park Cities Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery said employees had to go on unemployment during the first round of restrictions in the spring.

Phillips said his practice is prepared to postpone some non-emergency procedures if new restrictions take effect.

In the meantime, he's helping a patient who's waited years for surgery. Christina Cruz of Euless began losing her teeth nearly 20 years ago. After all that time, Cruz was scheduled for surgery to transform her smile in two weeks.

Now, her procedure is taking place Thursday.

“I wanted to move it up not only to make it more special for her Christmas holiday, but it was fortuitous if we do have this elective surgery shutdown,” said Phillips.

“I am thankful that they put this through as quickly as they could just, you know, to be on the safe side in case something came down to stop that,” said Cruz.

How to Avoid COVID-19 Infection:

The best way to prevent infection is to take precautions to avoid exposure to this virus, which are similar to the precautions you take to avoid the flu. CDC always recommends these everyday actions to help prevent the spread of respiratory viruses, including:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.

*Information shared from the Office of Texas Gov. Greg Abbott

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