On October 8, 2020, Governor Greg Abbott issued Executive Order GA-32 to reopen certain venues to 75% capacity and allow resumption of elective surgeries in certain counties, with the exception of counties that reside in Trauma Service Areas (TSAs) that are designated as an area with high COVID‑19 hospitalizations. Per GA-32, areas with high hospitalizations means any 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%.
Trauma Service Area-O, which includes Travis County and much of Central Texas, has now met that 15% threshold for seven consecutive days. The Texas Department of State Health Services sent a letter to Travis County Judge Andy Brown on Sunday confirming the new restrictions must go into effect across the affected area as of January 10, 2021. Under the new restrictions, all restaurants, retail stores, gyms and exercise facilities, and classes, museums, and libraries are required to return to occupancy levels 50% or lower. Per state rules, hospitals must also stop elective surgeries across the area. Under GA-32, once a TSA is considered an “area with high hospitalizations,” this designation remains until the TSA has seven consecutive days in which the number of COVID-19 hospitalized patients as a percentage of total hospital capacity is 15% or less.
Three other TSAs in Texas have recently hit this mark, including Paris (TSA-F), Victoria (TSA-S), and the Rio Grande Valley (TSA-V).
Austin and the other TSAs now join other major municipalities across Texas on the state’s list of areas with high hospitalization numbers. Trauma Service Areas in Amarillo, Abilene, Lubbock, Dallas/Fort Worth, Longview, Lufkin, El Paso, Belton, Killeen, El Paso, Waco, Bryan/ College Station, San Antonio, Houston, Galveston, and Laredo have also triggered GA-32 and implemented the Governor’s restrictions.