Harrison County Judge Chad Sims announced, on Tuesday, a list of mandated occupancy restrictions for the county, due to the rise of COVID-19 cases across the region.
“We exceeded the 15 percent of hospitalization rate, which triggers the Executive Order GA- 32 issued by Governor (Greg) Abbott for our region,” Sims said Tuesday, giving an update during the commissioners court meeting.
He explained that for the seventh straight day, the rate of hospital COVID-19 cases in East Texas Trauma Area G has risen above 15 percent of the area’s capacity.
“We’re in Region G. That’s 19 counties that stretch from just past Smith County along down the state line,” said Sims.
All 19 counties, which include Harrison, will have to abide by restrictions outlined in the governor’s order. The mandate became effective Tuesday.
“According to Executive Order GA-32 issued by Governor Greg Abbot on Oct. 7, when the percentage of patients hospitalized with COVID-19 exceeds 15 percent of the total hospital capacity for the Trauma Service Area for seven consecutive days, the entire region becomes subject to restrictions,” Judge Sims explained.
“(We) will have these restrictions effective today (Tuesday), reducing the occupancy at businesses from 75 percent down to 50 percent, closing any bars in our area; and elective surgeries will no longer be allowed under this executive order,” said Sims.
The establishments that must now operate from 75 percent occupancy to 50 percent includes restaurants, retail stores, gyms and indoor facilities. Bars and other establishments defined by service of 51 percent or more alcohol will close.
“The 19-county Trauma Area G must be less than 15 percent hospital occupancy for these restrictions to be lifted for seven consecutive days,” said Sims.
He noted that on Monday, the Texas Department of State Health Services reported the hospitalization rate was 15.94 percent in Trauma Area G.
“On Sunday, the rate was reported at 16.15 percent,” Judge Sims said. “The hospitalization rate increased from 16.46 percent on Friday to 16.73 percent on Saturday. On Thursday, the rate was 15.51 percent, and it was at 15.16 percent on Wednesday. The region’s hospitalization rate was at 15.28 percent on Tuesday.”
Counties that make up Trauma Service Area G are: Harrison, Gregg, Marion, Panola, Anderson, Camp, Cherokee, Franklin, Freestone, Henderson, Houston, Rains, Rusk, Shelby, Smith, Trinity, Upshur, Van Zandt and Wood.
Judge Sims urges residents to use caution, wear face coverings, social distance and sanitize hands to help reduce the spread of the virus and to prevent additional hospitalizations.
“For us to get out of that,” he said of the mandated restrictions, “we need seven consecutive days where we remain below the 15 percent level of hospitalization; so we’re certainly encouraging our community to take every precaution to try to stop the spread of the virus.”
In neighboring Marion County, Judge Leward LaFleur reported on Monday that the county currently has 19 active cases.
Of the cumulative total of 197 confirmed cases, 17 have resulted in fatalities, and an estimated 210 have been recoveries.
“The numbers are reported to Marion County by The State of Texas DSHS. Marion County does not track nor does it compile this information,” said LaFleur. “We report what we are given by DSHS. With that being said, I try and update the public when numbers change.”
He encouraged the public to continue to observe social distancing measures.
“Pray for those who’ve lost loved ones,” said LaFleur. “Pray that we continue to show a low impact on our community.”