Harris, Fort Bend, other counties must close bars, rollback business capacity

Bars must close and business and restaurant capacity has been reduced in several Houston-area counties, including Harris, due to high COVID-19 hospitalizations, Judge Lina Hidalgo confirmed on Tuesday afternoon.

The rollback applies to Trauma Service Area Q which includes the following counties: Austin, Colorado, Fort Bend, Harris, Matagorda, Montgomery, Walker, Waller, and Wharton.

In October, Executive Order GA-32 allowed the resumption of elective surgeries, increased the capacity of certain businesses to 75%, and allowed bars to open at up to 50% where county judges allowed. These reopenings did not apply to counties in Trauma Service Areas that had high COVID-19 hospitalizations.

Per the executive order, these reopenings would also be rolled back in Trauma Service Areas that have seven consecutive days in which the number of COVID‑19 hospitalized patients as a percentage of total hospital capacity exceeds 15%.

Tuesday was the seventh day in which TSA Q exceeded 15%.

TSA Q joins other southeast Texas areas that are in rollbacks like TSA R, which includes Galveston, Chambers, and Brazoria Counties, and TSA N, which includes Brazos, Grimes, and Washington Counties.

MORE DETAILS: Galveston Co. one of nine counties on new restrictions from state due to COVID-19 numbers

The state keeps a current list of TSAs with high COVID-19 hospitalizations.

Which restrictions will be rolled back?

-         Elective surgeries will be suspended
-         Bars

Decreased to up to 50% capacity

-         All Employers and Event Organizers
-         Amusement Park Operators
-         Bowling Alleys, Bingo Halls, Simulcasting, Skating Rinks
-         Driving Schools
-         Fine Arts Performance Halls
-         Gyms / Exercise Facilities
-         Manufacturers
-         Media Production
-         Movie Theaters
-         Museums and Libraries
-         Office-Based Employers
-         Parks / Beaches / Bodies of Water
-         Restaurants
-         Retailers
-         Video Game Facilities
-         Waterpark Operators
-         Wedding Reception Venues
-         Wedding Venues
-         Youth Clubs
-         Zoos, Aquariums, Natural Caverns

What happens next?

Counties will remain in rollbacks until the Trauma Service Area has seven consecutive days in which the number of COVID‑19 hospitalized patients as a percentage of total hospital capacity is 15% or less.

A county within a TSA that has high hospitalizations may still operate up to 75% if the county has reported fewer than 30 new confirmed cases in the last 14 days.

Some Houston-area counties could face restrictions due to COVID-19 hospitalization rate

Record high COVID-19 hospitalizations in Texas

For seven of the past eight days, Texas has set new record highs for hospitalized COVID-19 patients.

On Monday, the state reported 12,961 patients with COVID-19 in Texas hospitals.

Texas also reported 15,976 new confirmed cases, 1,963 new probable cases and 52 newly reported fatalities on Monday.

In total, the state has reported more than 1.59 million cases.

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