Just days after touting that there would be “no more shutdowns in Texas,” an order issued by Gov. Greg Abbott increased restrictions again in nine southeast Texas counties, including Galveston.
In September and October, Abbott issued executive orders that expanded capacity limits for many businesses—including restaurants, gyms, and retail stores—to 75 percent.
However, there was one stipulation: 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 seven-day hospitalization rate is below 15 percent would be allowed to engage in more reopenings.
Likewise, if a reopened region hit the 15 percent hospitalization threshold, the increased restrictions would be put back in place.
Earlier this month, Trauma Service Area E in North Texas reached Abbott’s limit. Now, Trauma Service Area R is the latest to be subject to shutdowns.
Trauma Service Area R includes Brazoria, Chambers, Galveston, Harden, Jasper, Jefferson, Liberty, Newton, and Orange counties.
As a result, capacity in most businesses will have to be ratcheted back down to 50 percent. Bars will be forced to close again. Additionally, there will be a moratorium placed on elective medical procedures.
The move strikes a dissonant note to Abbott’s recent comments; in mid-November, he called shutdowns “ineffective” and railed against California for the state’s coronavirus restrictions.
“It’s time to put behind us shutdowns. No more shutdowns. We need to focus on opening up businesses,” Abbott said last week.
Galveston County Judge Mark Henry blasted the action, saying the move was a “bad policy decision” based on “flawed data.”
If Abbott does not reverse his previous executive order, the tightened restrictions will continue until the hospitalization rate returns to below 15 percent.