Just as many Texans were beginning to see a potential light at the end of the tunnel of shutdown mandates in response to the Chinese coronavirus, Gov. Greg Abbott has once again reversed his reopening for millions of residents in North Texas.
In September and October, Abbott issued executive orders that expanded capacity limits for many businesses—including restaurants, gyms, and retail stores—to 75 percent.
The caveat? The expanded capacities depended on the hospitalization rate, the number of coronavirus patients as it relates to total hospitalizations in a given area.
Dividing the state into 22 regions called Trauma Service Areas, Abbott announced that any region whose hospitalization rate over seven days is below 15 percent will be allowed to engage in more reopenings.
Trauma Service Area E in North Texas, the state’s most populous, has now met Abbott’s trigger.
Trauma Service Area E contains more than 26 percent of the state’s population and consists of Collin, Cooke, Dallas, Denton, Ellis, Erath, Fannin, Grayson, Hood, Hunt, Johnson, Kaufman, Navarro, Palo Pinto, Parker, Rockwall, Somervell, Tarrant, and Wise counties.
As a result, capacity in most businesses will have to be ratcheted back down to 50 percent. In counties where local leaders have given approval for bars to reopen, they will be forced to close yet again. Additionally, there will be a moratorium placed on elective medical procedures.
Though the general election was a month ago, the issue has come into play in a special election runoff for Senate District 30—much of which is contained within the affected area. Shelley Luther called out her opponent State Rep. Drew Springer (R–Muenster) for his endorsement by Gov. Greg Abbott, calling the pair “out of touch” for robocalling while the shutdown was put back in place.
— Shelley Luther for Texas Senate (@ShelleyLuther) December 4, 2020
If Abbott does not reverse his previous executive order, the tightened restrictions will continue until the hospitalization rate returns to below 15 percent.