Officials: Region could be within 10 days of rollbacks

Special to the Bulletin
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At the current rate of COVID spread in the region, the number of COVID hospItalizations could trigger state-mandated economic rollbacks within 10 days, City of Brownwood and Hendrick Medical Center Brownwood officials announced Wednesday.

According to a joint press release:

On Tuesday, November 24, the Brownwood City Council discussed the current COVID-19 conditions in Brown County with Lisa Dick, Brownwood/Brown County Health Administrator, and Krista Baty, Chief Administrative Officer of Hendrick Brownwood.

On Tuesday, the active COVID-19 cases were the highest Brown County has seen, at 411 cases and 17 local hospitalizations. Mayor Stephen Haynes asked that the medical and economic implications of rising COVID-19 cases be shared with the public.

Currently, Brown County is operating under Governor Greg Abbott’s Executive Order GA-32 that allows most businesses to operate at 75 percent capacity. According to order, hospital regions with high COVID-19 hospitalizations, defined as 15 percent of total staffed hospital beds for a seven-day period, triggers business occupancy to be reduced to 50 percent and mandates that bars not serving food must close.

Brownwood is in the hospital region with Abilene (Region D). On Tuesday, 17 COVID-19 patients were hospitalized in Brownwood and 107 in Abilene (total 124), which was a 14.33 percent COVID-19 hospitalization rate. When 145 COVID-19 patients are hospitalized, it will put our region in the 15 percent hospitalization level.

If this percentage is sustained for seven days, it will activate the governor’s order to roll back business occupancy levels for the region, harming our local economy. It is estimated at the current rate of spread in our region, we will reach 145 hospitalized patients within 10 days. We would remain under these restrictions until our seven-day average of hospitalized COVID-19 patients is below 15 percent.

All the hospital regions to the west of Region D (A, B, I, and J) are above the 15 percent hospitalization rate and are currently under increased restrictions. The ICU and COVID-19 unit at Hendrick Medical Center are currently full with COVID-19 patients.

This recent surge in hospitalized COVID-19 patients is detrimental to other non-COVID-19 patients who require hospitalization.

The county judge and mayors do not have authority to close businesses or order a shutdown. The Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission (TABC) enforces restrictions on bars, and the State has authority through the governor’s orders to enforce restrictions on all other businesses.

The City of Brownwood and Hendrick Medical Center do not want to see additional economic or medical hardship come to our citizens and business community. We urge our residents to make every effort to reduce the impact of COVID-19 by following these best practices:

• Wear a mask over your nose and mouth when inside, and outdoors when you cannot maintain six feet of social distance.

• Respect businesses by wearing masks in their facilities.

• Avoid non-essential gatherings.

• Use technology instead of face-to-face meetings.

• Wash your hands frequently, especially after being in public spaces.

Several testing options are available to Brown County residents. They may contact their primary care physician, or text covidhelp to 325-216-4824 or visit hendrickhealth.virtriage.com to complete a COVID19 Risk Assessment.

Additionally, the state is providing free testing Monday, November 30 and Thursday, December 3 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.m at Gordon Wood Stadium located at 3206 Milam Drive. Register at www.GoGetTested.com

For Brown County COVID-19 case counts, visit www.brownwoodtexas.gov/health. To see the hospital region data, visit https://txdshs.maps.arcgis.com/apps/opsdashboard/index.html#/0d8bdf9be927459d9cb11b9eaef6101f .

Brown County is in Trauma Service District D. For details on business protocols for COVID-19 related to the governor’s orders, visit Opening the State of Texas | COVID-19.