NORTH TEXAS (CBSDFW.COM) — The rising number of COVID-19 hospitalizations statewide is forcing some businesses to scale back.
The upper and lower Texas panhandle, as well as the El Paso area, have hit a threshold set by the governor to trigger occupancy limits rollback from 75% to 50%. COVID patients in those three areas have filled 15% of available hospital beds for seven consecutive days.
In North Texas, designated as Trauma Service Area E, roughly 1,500 COVID patients Sunday filled 9.45% of hospital beds, but local health officials warn the number of hospitalizations continues to rise.
“The hospitals are concerned. We are gradually going up every day. And we’re now just so you know approximately where we were the first part of August,” said DFW Hospital Council CEO Steve Love.
According to Love, hospitals want to see a healthy economy so they’re urging people to keep wearing masks, social distance, and wash their hands frequently.
“If we do that, most physicians tell me they think we can keep the economy open,” he said. “But, if we let our guard down and we have community spread, that’s when potentially you may have to go down to a lockdown.”
Governor Greg Abbott has taken control of decisions over business closures, removing the authority county judges and mayor wielding earlier this year. Abbott has previously said shutting down would be a measure of last resort.
“That’s constantly in my mind,” said Sandra Correa, the owner of Chitos Restaurant. Over the last decade, Correa has grown the business from a hole-in-the-wall next to a gas station to a popular restaurant occupying a busy corner on Frisco’s Main Street.
“The actual pandemic coming in… you don’t prepare for things like that,” she said.
Even if Correa isn’t forced to close again, she says a surge in cases could shake consumer confidence. She says she’s voluntarily kept business capped at 50% occupancy and other strict measures in place, hoping to keep her customers coming back.
“I want to make sure that everybody feels safe and that everybody feels like they’re in a place where they can actually have dinner,” she said.