This past Monday evening Rusk County Judge Joel Hale received a letter from Dr. John Hellerstedt, Commissioner, Department of State Health Services stating that the county had reached a hospital capacity exceeding over 15 percent and therefore will have to move back from 75 percent to 50 percent capacity in restaurants, retail stores and office buildings.
“We will have to implement this immediately,” said Judge Joel Hale.
Dr. Hellerstedt said in the letter that on October 7, 2020, Governor Abbott issued Executive Order GA-32, which supersedes GA-30 and GA-31. Significantly, GA-32 updates the thresholds for areas with high hospitalizations.
The new definition of areas with high hospitalizations is any Trauma Service Area (TSA) that has had seven consecutive days in which the number of COVID-19 hospitalized patients as a percentage of total hospital capacity exceeds 15 percent, until such time as 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 percent or less.
Under the criteria laid out in GA-32, Rusk County, TSA G, meets the definition of a high hospitalization area and so may not conduct elective surgeries or reopen to the higher levels allowable under GA-32.
TSA G includes the following counties Anderson, Camp, Cherokee, Franklin, Freestone, Gregg, Harrison, Henderson, Houston , Marion Panola, Rains Rusk , Shelby, Smith , Trinity , Upshur , Van Zandt and Wood.
Data on hospitalizations may be found at dshs.texas.gov/ga3031. GA-32 allows counties in TSAs with high hospitalizations to choose to operate at 75 percent capacity if the county has fewer than 30 cases reported over the last 14 days and the county judge submits an attestation to DSHS.