Businesses in Comal County that were previously required to operate at 50% capacity can now open with 75% capacity; bars can now reopen; and hospitals can resume elective surgeries.

According to the TexasnDepartment of State Health Services, COVID-19 hospitalizations in Trauma Service Area P have remained below 15% of total hospitalizations for seven consecutive days.

Trauma Service Area P includes 22 counties in Southwest Texas, including Comal and Guadalupe counties, and coronavirus patients accounted for more than 15% of hospitalizations in the area from Dec. 17-Feb. 10.

According to Gov. Greg Abbott’s Executive Order GA-32, which went into effect Oct. 14, any business operating at 75% capacity in a TSA with seven consecutive days in which the number of COVID-19 patients exceeds 15% of total hospital capacity are required to cut back to 50% capacity.

“It’s welcomed news for our local businesses, especially after the weather week we’ve had,” Comal County Judge Sherman Krause said in a press release. “We still need residents to be aware of the weather situation and take all necessary precautions.”

In New Braunfels, icy road conditions have made travel challenging, and continued winter weather is expected through Feb. 18.

Due to county public health department facility closures this week, coronavirus case updates have not been updated since Feb. 15.

Since Feb. 8, Comal County has reported 424 new confirmed and probable cases of COVID-19, bringing the total to 8,862 since March.

The county reported nine new coronavirus-related deaths since Feb. 15, with the deaths having occurred between Jan. 20-Feb. 11. The reported deaths included those of four New Braunfels residents, three Spring Branch residents and two residents of Canyon Lake.

As of Feb. 15, the county had 630 active, confirmed cases.

Comal County hospitals reported caring for 34 COVID-19 patients, 11 of which were in intensive care and eight were on ventilators.

Comal County also reported Feb. 15 that 53 county residents were hospitalized with the coronavirus, though not all county residents are hospitalized within county hospitals, down from 73 residents who were hospitalized Feb. 11.