Coryell County restaurants, businesses must decrease capacity to 50%
By LYNETTE SOWELL
On Wednesday afternoon, Coryell County Judge Roger Miller issued an order that as of 11:59 p.m. Wednesday evening, all restaurants and businesses in Coryell County must reduce capacity to 50 percent, per Gov. Abbott’s Executive Order GA-32, enacted on Oct. 7, 2020.
In that executive order, it states that whenever hospitals in the local Trauma Service area have COVID-19 patients who make up more than 15 percent of the total capacity, for seven consecutive days, any business establishment operating at 75 percent capacity within that area must reduce capacity to 50 percent, until hospitalizations decrease below the 15 percent mark for seven days in a row.
Hospitalizations in our local Trauma Service Area have remained above the 15-percent mark since Dec. 29 and were at 21.6 percent as of Jan. 6.
Although according to the executive order bars, are required to close, Miller said he is suspending that requirement pending a response from the Governor’s Office for an exemption for Coryell County.
Currently only three establishments in Coryell County operated as a bar, FUBAR in Copperas Cove, Moose Lodge 2029 in Copperas Cove, and American Legion Post 42 in Gatesville.
“I’m fully aware of the Governor’s Order and its intent. But I have no reason to believe our three bar establishments are significantly responsible for the increased COVID cases in Coryell County or within TSA L. This is simply a case of one executive order not being appropriate for all 254 counties. And I see no reason why our three establishments should be penalized,” Miller stated.
He later elaborated on his decision to ask the governor’s office for an exception.
“Two of those establishments are not open to the general public, they are open for members,” Miller said. “That leaves FUBAR in Copperas Cove the only business open to the public, and I would find it hard to say that they are responsible for increased hospitalizations in our Trauma Service Area.”
Coryell County is in Trauma Service Area L, made up of Bell, Coryell, Hamilton, Lampasas, Mills, and Milam Counties. Additionally, all elective hospital procedures must be on hold due to the percentages.
At AdventHealth Central Texas in Killeen, there was a capacity of 111 patients on Wednesday, Jan. 6. Of those 111 patients, 20 are hospitalized with COVID-19, with five of them in the intensive care unit. At Coryell Memorial Hospital in Gatesville, with a capacity of 10 patients, two are hospitalized due to COVID-19. At Rollins Brook in Lampasas, of the 43-patient capacity that day, four had COVID-19. At Carl Darnall Army Medical Center on Fort Hood, with its capacity of 108 patients, 15 have COVID-19, with five of those patients in ICU.
Judge Miller also pointed to the increased number of new cases within the County.
“Coryell County has been experiencing sharp increases in the number of COVID positive tests over the past two months. July through mid-November, new cases were holding steady averaging approximately 35 cases per week. Beginning with the week ending November 19, that average jumped to more than 120 new cases per week for the next five weeks. The County closed out 2020 with two consecutive weeks of almost 250 new cases per week and set a new one week high of 253 confirmed cases.
“While Coryell County is not solely responsible for the increase in hospitalized COVID patients in TSA L, it certainly has contributed. We are seeing a strain on the healthcare system throughout the region and State. This is exactly what we wanted to avoid when the Governor shut down the State in late March of last year. If the rise in infection rate continues, doctors and medical staff locally and regionally will have to start selecting who receives inpatient treatment, and I believe that may be the case already”, Miller stated.
Statewide, hospitalizations reached an all-time high of 13,628 on Wednesday.
COVID-19 cases in Central Texas*
Bell County 2,682 active cases (14,455 total)
Burnet County 249 active cases (1,836 total)
Coryell County* 557 active cases (2,164 total)
Copperas Cove (city) 363 active cases (1,207 total)
Lampasas County 102 active cases (1,067 total)
McLennan County 1,454 active cases (20,006 total)
Williamson County 1,963 active cases (22,836 total)
*Numbers as of Jan. 6 from Texas DSHS, Coryell County, Lampasas County; Bell, McLennan, and Williamson County Public Health Districts.