A press release issued Jan. 8 states that because Hays County lies within Texas Trauma Services Area O, in which the hospitalization rate has remained at or above 15% for at least seven days, officials are bracing for restrictions to be implemented as soon as Jan. 11.
Information from the county states that TRS Area O includes Hays, Bastrop, Blanco, Burnet, Caldwell, Fayette, Lee, Llano, San Saba, Travis and Williamson counties.
“Region O’s hospitalization rate surpassed 15 percent on Sunday, January 3, 2021, and has increased since then,” the release states. “A rollback has not yet been mandated but is anticipated due to the increase in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations. Hays County will further notify residents if the Texas Department of State Health Services issues a determination letter stating the region has become an area of high hospitalizations.”
The restrictions are outlined under an October executive order from Gov. Greg Abbott which states that bars not operating as a restaurant under the rules of the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission must close.
The order also states other businesses, including retail, restaurants, office buildings, libraries, gyms and manufacturers currently operating to accommodate 75% capacity, must lower their capacity to 50%, and elective surgeries must be rescheduled.
While Hays County leaders reiterated Jan. 8 that they have not yet received orders from the governor, they said the notice is intended to help them get ahead of the situation.
“We want to provide as much time as possible for people to make arrangements,” Hays County Chief of Staff Alex Villalobos said. “We’re trying to inform the public of the plan that has been provided by the governor.”
Villalobos said the seventh day of a 15% or higher hospitalization rate within TSA Region O will be Jan. 9 and that the most current information from Jan. 6 shows the rate was at 17.3%, down from 18.85% as of Jan. 5.
Villalobos said it is important to not assess those numbers as a downward turn and that the rates change day to day.
“We would anticipate that we will still be above the 15% threshold [Jan. 9],” he said.
Abbott’s executive order specifies that if they were implemented, the restrictions would be lifted following seven consecutive days of a hospitalization rate lower than 15%.