Updated with information about hospitalization rates.
All Texas retail stores, restaurants, gyms, office buildings, museums and libraries can reopen at 75% capacity if cities and counties meet certain requirements, Gov. Greg Abbott announced Thursday.
Those businesses and buildings can reopen in the 19 hospital regions, including Dallas-Fort Worth where COVID-19 hospitalizations are less than 15% of all hospitalizations, the governor said at a Sept. 17 press briefing regarding the state's response to the coronavirus pandemic.
The 19 regions allowed to reopen at 75% capacity include the following areas:
- San Antonio
- Corpus Christi
- El Paso
- San Angelo
- Wichita Falls
Abbott cited declining hospitalizations across the state as the reason Texas could further reopen.
The 7-day average statewide is double where it was on Memorial Day before the major surge, however. In the Dallas-Fort Worth region, it's 30% above where it was at that time.
Even when COVID-19 hospitalizations were spiking this summer, the region only saw 24 days where the number of COVID-19 hospitalizations comprised greater than 15% of total hospitalizations in the area. Of that, only 7 days surpassed 16%.
As of Thursday, the Dallas-Fort Worth region is now at 6.3%, along with most of Texas. Eighteen other regions will be allowed to reopen under the new capacity guidelines, while three will not. The three areas with hospitalizations still higher than 15% include Laredo, Victoria and the Lower Rio Grande Valley.
Three regions will not be allowed to reopen at 75%. All Texas hospital regions and their COVID-19 percentages can be found in this graph.
Bars are not included in the list of businesses that can reopen. Texas bars will continue to stay closed as they are "nationally recognized as coronavirus spreading locations," the governor said. However, Gov. Abbott added he is focused on finding ways to get them to reopen.
The openings will begin as early as Monday, Sept. 21.
The governor has also revised nursing home visitation requirements across the state of Texas.
The announcement comes as the list of business closures across Texas has continued to grow since March.
In addition, Gov. Abbott announced hospitals in those regions can return to ordinary elective surgical procedures. All nursing home facilities and assisted living centers are allowed to reopen for visitation. Those facilities will have to follow certain health protocols, the governor added. They additional visitations can begin on Sept. 24.
Earlier this week, the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) announced a new process for how the agency reports the State's positivity rate. Abbott has mentioned the positivity rate as a key indicator of his decisions in closing and reopening the Texas economy. That change in reporting shows that when the governor reopened the Texas economy during the months of May and June, the positivity rate in the state was higher than was being reported at the time.
At the Sept. 17 press briefing at the Texas State Capitol, Abbott was joined by other state leaders including Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, House Speaker Dennis Bonnen, Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) Commissioner John Hellerstedt, MD and Texas Division of Emergency Management (TDEM) Chief Nim Kidd.