Wharton County bars can reopen and restaurants can move to 75 percent capacity thanks to a sustained decrease in the COVID-19 hospitalizations throughout the region.

Wharton County Judge Phillip Spenrath received an email from Dr. John Hellerstadt, the Texas Department of State Health Services commissioner, Friday about the hospitalization rate.

“We have had seven consecutive days in which the number of COVID-19 hospitalized patients as a percentage of total hospital capacity was 15 percent or less,” Spenrath said. “Thus, our Trauma Service Area (TSA Q) no longer meets the definition of a high hospitalization area and so may reopen to the higher levels allowable under (Gov. Greg Abbott’s) GA-32 Executive Order.”

This means restaurants are back to 75 percent capacity and bars can reopen, Spenrath said.

TSA Q includes Wharton County, as well as Harris, Walker, Austin, Colorado, Fort Bend, Harris, Matagorda, Montgomery, Walker and Waller counties.

The Department of State Health Services lists 156 active cases of COVID-19 in Wharton County currently with 97 fatalities since the start of the pandemic. Local numbers were not available.

Last Commissioners Court session, Spenrath said the TSA rate was 15.28 percent for Region Q. The hospitalization rate had been 17.09 percent a week before.

The Trauma Service Areas are set up by the DSHS and the South East Texas Regional Advisory Council with the hospital capacity of these areas being used to determine COVID-19 restriction under Abbott’s Executive Order from Oct. 8, 2020.

The Wharton County Office of Emergency Management reported the hospitalization rate on Jan. 22 when it was 19.3 percent. There was a slight rate decrease the following week at 18.58 percent.

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