North Texas hospitals now fall under Gov. Greg Abbott’s order from Sept. 17 outlining the circumstances under which some elective surgeries would be required to be postponed. These restrictions were triggered when COVID-19 patients exceeded 15% of all hospitalizations in the region for seven consecutive days.
But although the order requires doctors to consider postponing elective procedures, it contains a broad exception. As long as an elective surgery “would not deplete any hospital capacity needed to cope with the COVID-19 disaster,” it would not need to be postponed, the order reads.
Stephen Love, the president and CEO of the Dallas-Fort Worth Hospital Council, said hospitals are complying with the order by closely monitoring their capacity for treatment of COVID-19 patients. Non-essential surgical procedures unrelated to the virus are evaluated on a case-by-case basis, he said.
“We will certainly look to care and preserve capacity for COVID-19 patients,” Love said in an email, “but also strive to treat non-COVID-19 patients as effectively as possible including needed surgeries.”
Rising hospitalization levels also initiated broad new restrictions on businesses. On Thursday, the region saw COVID-19 patients exceed 15% of total hospital capacity for the seventh consecutive day, triggering bar closures and a business occupancy rollback from 75% to 50% of normal capacity.
The restrictions on elective procedures were based on a slightly different metric—the share of patients, not beds. According to the two orders, this means the North Texas region crossed the threshold limiting elective procedures days before it exceeded the one that tightened business restrictions.
The restrictions governing elective surgeries would expire if the region’s COVID-19 hospitalization number dips below 15% of all patients for another seven consecutive days.
As of Friday, 18.1% of all hospitalized patients in the North Texas trauma region were confirmed to have COVID-19, according to the state dashboard.
Read the governor's full order below.