COVID hospitalizations pushing region toward economic rollbacks

Steve Nash / Brownwood Bulletin
covid graphic

While local officials say they have no intention of shutting down the local economy because of rising COVID cases, the multi-county trauma region that includes Brown County nearly had enough COVID hospitalizations as of Tuesday to trigger state-mandated rollbacks.

If 15 percent of hospitalizations in a trauma region are at 15 percent for a week, that will mean rollbacks for that region, which would include 50 percent of capacity for businesses and the closing of bars, Brownwood/Brown County Health Administrator Lisa Dick told Brownwood City Council members Tuesday morning.

Region D — which includes Brown County — was at 14.3 percent Tuesday morning, Dick told council members. 

Dick said the rollbacks would occur as a region and would follow the Texas reopening plan announced earlier this year by Gov. Greg Abbott. Businesses are currently at 75 percent capacity.

Hendrick Medical Center Brownwood had 16 COVID patients as of Monday morning, Dick said. 

While Dick said the Brownwood hospital’s bed capacity changes daily, the facility’s COVID patients were at 52 percent of the hospital’s capacity, council members were told.

Brownwood Mayor Stephen Haynes said the city would be putting out a press release related to the possible rollbacks.

Brown County had 441 active cases as of Tuesday morning, Dick told council members, an increase of 218 from a week ago. There have been 40 COVID deaths in Brown County. 

The 40th death, which the health department received a report of Monday, was a woman in her 60s. The county had a total of 1,618 positive cases Monday, 1,167 recoveries and 5,205 negative reports.

Local officials continued asking the community to take steps including wearing masks in public, practicing social distancing and avoiding large gatherings.

Haynes said while people feel powerless and helpless to stop the COVID crisis, “all of us as individuals can do the little things.”

On Monday, Brown County Judge Paul Lilly elaborated after the commissioners court meeting on the COVID crisis. Lilly said he met with the mayors of the county’s cities on Nov. 20.

“We came out of that meeting unified, as we went in,” Lilly said. “We will not be shutting anything down. We all agreed that we’re at a stage now where personal integrity, personal responsibility is the key. Wear your masks. Don’t congregate in large groups.”

Speaking three days before Thanksgiving, Lilly added, “I want to make this very clear: what you do with your family on a designated holiday is your business. It’s not the business of the government.

“No one’s going to come into your house and say you’ve got X number of people here, you’re in violation. It’s not going to happen. But I am begging you, act smartly, act wisely, save your family from potential exposure.” 

Brown County has been hit “extraordinarily hard for a county of under 40,000,” Lilly said. “The virus is here and we can’t avoid it coming to our county. However we can take precautions and this is what I am urging everyone to do. … our only options are that we curb its spread and we hold out until we can get that (vaccine).”

Dick told City Council members Tuesday she she’s curbing the virus as “a personal responsibility issue.”