Two New Trauma Service Areas Cross Hospitalization Threshold to Trigger COVID-19 Reopening Rollback

January 7, 2021 | Insights

As companies of all types and sizes continue to deal with the potential legal implications of the COVID-19 pandemic for their businesses, Jackson Walker provides insights and resources on the COVID-19 Legal Resources & Insights site.

By Kate Goodrich

The Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) has advised that two additional Trauma Service Areas (TSAs) now have COVID-19-related hospitalization rates high enough to trigger capacity reductions under Governor Greg Abbott’s Executive Orders.

TSA-Q, a region that includes Harris, Fort Bend, Montgomery, and six additional surrounding counties, and TSA-L, which includes six counties in the Belton/Killen area of Central Texas, both have had COVID-19 hospitalizations exceed 15% of total hospital capacity for seven days in a row, according to data from DSHS.

According to Governor Abbott’s Executive Orders GA-31 and GA-32, issued on September 17, 2020, and October 7, 2020, respectively, the following restrictions are now in effect for both Trauma Service Areas:

  • Any business establishment that currently has a 75% occupancy or operating limit may operate at up to only 50% capacity. These businesses include: restaurants; gyms; retail establishments, including vape stores and hobby stores; amusement parks; water parks; swimming pools; museums; libraries; zoos, aquariums, natural caverns, and similar facilities; and indoor and outdoor professional, collegiate and similar sporting events.
  • People shall not visit bars or similar establishments. The Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission (TABC) will determine the extent of operation.
  • The ability to visit nursing homes, state supported living centers, assisted living facilities, or long-term care facilities is determined through guidance from the Texas Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC).
  • Elective surgeries and procedures that are not medically necessary to diagnose or correct a serious medical condition or to preserve the life of a patient must be postponed unless the surgery or procedure can be performed in a manner that is in accordance with the commonly accepted standard of clinical practice and will not deplete any hospital capacity needed to cope with the COVID-19 disaster.

Occupancy limits do not apply to exempted business, which may still operate at 100% capacity despite high hospitalizations. Exempted activities include: CISA essential services (such as grocery stores, pharmacies, convenience stores, pet stores, superstores, gun stores and shooting ranges, and certain manufacturing operations); local government operations; child-care services; youth camps; recreational sports (youth and adult); any public or private schools; and drive-in concerts, movies, or the like. Additionally, the following businesses may operate with 6 feet between work stations: cosmetology salons, hair salons, barber shops; nail salons; massage establishments or other facility where licensed massage therapists practice; other personal care or beauty services such as tanning salons, tattoo studios; piercing studios; hair removal studios and hair loss treatment or growth services.

Executive Orders GA-31 and GA-32 will remain in place until repealed by Governor Abbott or until the State of Disaster concludes.

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Please note: This article and any resources presented on the JW Coronavirus Insights & Resources site are for informational purposes only, do not constitute legal or medical advice, and are not a substitute for legal advice from qualified counsel. The laws of other states and nations may be entirely different from what is described. Your use of these materials does not create an attorney-client relationship between you and Jackson Walker. The facts and results of each case will vary, and no particular result can be guaranteed.

In This Story

Kate Goodrich
Governmental Affairs Consultant, Austin