Gov. Greg Abbott announced Thursday that most of Texas will be able to loosen some coronavirus restrictions, including letting many businesses increase their capacity to 75%.
As of Monday, Sept. 21, retail stores, restaurants and office buildings, which have been open at 50% capacity, will be permitted to expand to 75% capacity. Hospitals will be allowed to offer elective procedures again and nursing homes can reopen for visitations under certain standards beginning Thursday, Sept. 24.
Under the revised guidelines, residents of long-term care facilities can designate two “essential family caregivers” who will be allowed into a resident’s room. Caregivers are not required to maintain physical distancing, but only one person can visit at a time. Essential family caregivers will be trained on the proper use of protective gear and other infection control practices, according to state rules. They must also test negative for the virus within the previous two weeks.
Visitors not named as essential will still be allowed inside facilities, but will not be allowed to touch residents and must remain behind plexiglass barriers in an area of the home free from the coronavirus.
The Crockett County Care Center released a statement Tuesday about reopening their facility:
“Yes, we want to open as soon as possible, but there will be two people for each resident that will be considered essential. They will also have to be COVID-19 tested within 14 days of visitation. They will be allowed in resident’s rooms, one at a time, by appointment only, will wear full Personal Protective Equipment, be screened at the door and escorted out of the resident’s room. These people will be allowed to hug their loved ones. The rest of the visitors will be allowed two at a time and will have to remain behind plexiglass, no touching allowed and this will be by appointment only. We will not be starting this on Thursday, Sept. 24 because we do not have the outside tables up and the plexiglass up, and there are still concerns about the rules that we must make sure we are following to the letter,” said Karen Komechak, LVN, Infection Control.
In addition to stores, restaurants and offices, the business that will be able to shift to 75% capacity on Monday include manufacturers, museums, libraries and gyms.
Also locally, the J. Cleo Thompson Wellness Center is now open at 75% capacity with classes resuming Oct. 1.
Full state guidelines can be found at open.texas. gov.
Family Health Center of Ozona officials reported Monday that the last positive COVID-19 test for Crockett County was more than 20 days ago.
The Texas Department of State Health Services reported 164 total cases for Crockett County with only two active. There have been 156 recoveries locally and six deaths.
Crockett County has also conducted 924 total tests, according to the state website.
CCCCSD has only reported three positive student cases since starting in August.
“We must take all precautions, so we continue to not have anymore positives,” said Susan Bilano, director of the Family Health Center of Ozona.
The new reopening stage applies to 19 of the state’s 22 hospital regions. The three hospital regions excluded are in the Rio Grande Valley, Laredo and Victoria. Abbott said those regions’ hospitalizations are still “in the danger zone,” which he defined as places where coronavirus patients make up 15% or more of all hospitalizations.
At the same time, Abbott said the state was not yet ready to reopen bars, saying they are “nationally recognized as COVID-spreading locations.” He stressed, though, that the state is looking for ways to let bars reopen safely.
The governor reminded Texans that doctors have said the goal is not to eradicate the virus but to “contain the disease, to limit its harm and to maximize the health care system’s ability to treat both COVID patients as well as other medical needs of the community.”
When it comes to further reopenings, he emphasized the state will consider all data but “rely most heavily” on hospitalizations, calling that metric the “most important information about the severity of COVID in any particular region.” It is also the “most accurate information available on a daily basis,” Abbott said.
For more information visit, www.dshs.state.tx.us.
- Texas Tribune contributed this article.