COVID-19 hospitalization rate for area stays above 15 percent for seven straight days

Kenya Menjivar
Waxahachie Daily Light

As of Dec. 4, Ellis County and other counties throughout Trauma Service Area E are required to revert back to previous reopening guidelines, since the area has maintained an average COVID-19 hospitalization rate of more than 15 percent for seven consecutive days.

As a result of the high hospitalization rate, all retail stores, restaurants, office buildings, manufacturing facilities, gyms and exercise facilities and classes, museums, and libraries in all counties in Trauma Service Area E are required to return to a maximum 50 percent occupancy level.

As of Dec. 9, Ellis County has had 9,344 total cases of COVID-19, with 648 of those active. So far, there have been a reported 8,567 estimated total recoveries, 129 deaths and 88,539 tests administered in the area. Active cases in the county include 189 in Waxahachie, 132 in Red Oak, 101 in Midlothian and 110 in Ennis.

In Ellis County hospitalizations, due to the implementation of the hospital network's surge plan, additional beds have been made available, according to the county's COVID-19 website. Out of the 235 bed count total, 197 beds are occupied as of the Dec. 9 report. Out of total ICU beds, 24 out of 24 are occupied, with 13 of those being COVID-19 patients.  

On. Dec. 6, Gov. Greg Abbott extended the state disaster declaration for COVID-19. Gregory S. Davison, executive clerk to the Governor, sent out a statement from Abbott renewing the proclamation. The statement reads: “Pursuant to his powers as Governor of the State of Texas, Greg Abbott has issued the following: A proclamation renewing the declaration stating that the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) poses an imminent threat of disaster for all counties in Texas.”

Gov. Abbott’s proclamation is shown below:

“WHEREAS, I, Greg Abbott, Governor of Texas, issued a disaster proclamation on March 13, 2020, certifying under Section 418.014 of the Texas Government Code that the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) poses an imminent threat of disaster for all counties in the State of Texas; and

WHEREAS, in each subsequent month effective through today, I have issued proclamations renewing the disaster declaration for all Texas counties; and

WHEREAS, the Commissioner of the Texas Department of State Health Services, Dr. John Hellerstedt, has determined that COVID-19 represents a public health disaster within the meaning of Chapter 81 of the Texas Health and Safety Code; and

WHEREAS, I have issued executive orders and suspensions of Texas laws in response to COVID-19, aimed at protecting the health and safety of Texans and ensuring an effective response to this disaster; and

WHEREAS, a state of disaster continues to exist in all counties due to COVID-19;

NOW, THEREFORE, in accordance with the authority vested in me by Section 418.014 of the Texas Government Code, I do hereby renew the disaster proclamation for all counties in Texas.”

Ellis County Judge Todd Little responded to Abbott’s order to revert back to previous reopening guidelines due to the high hospitalization rate on Dec. 4. “As of today, Governor Abbott’s executive order GA-32 reverts Trauma Service Area (TSA) E back to previous reopening guidelines. In my lifetime, I have never encountered this magnitude of government intervention on day to day livelihoods. Government is here simply to help provide you with the tools and recommendations to be a free people and support your personal liberties. During this time of a high COVID-19 hospitalization rate in Ellis County (32.45%), it is important that we each use discernment and wisdom while exercising our personal responsibilities.”

In his statement, Little also shared that two of his children were in quarantine with COVID-19 the week before. Little then went onto stress the importance of community members coming together. 

“It’s not my job to enforce someone else’s edict. Our community is made up of resilient men and women who work everyday to keep our country great! As a small business owner myself, I understand the challenges that this virus has brought upon our local commerce. Our businesses need our service and our residents need sustainable employment, while our first responders and healthcare workers are in great need of relief during this time of crisis. I trust while each of us utilizes sound judgment, we can and will come together during this time to decrease the COVID-19 hospitalization rate. Please assist your vulnerable loved ones by taking the necessary precautions to keep them safe.”

Governor Greg Abbott had first implemented the use of data driven hospitalization metrics used by doctors and medical experts on Sept. 17, to help guide the state’s ongoing efforts to contain COVID-19. 

According to a news release, “This metric focuses on areas with high hospitalizations — referring to any Trauma Service Area (TSA) that has had seven consecutive days in which the number of lab confirmed COVID-19 hospitalized patients in a region exceeds 15% of all hospitalized patients.”

"I am grateful to be a part of this unyielding community, who will do the right thing to protect the health of those around them. As we have flattened the curve before we will do so again; while sustaining the livelihoods and personal liberties of our community in the safest way possible. May God continue to watch over and lead us during these trying times. May God bless Ellis County," shared Little.

As of Dec. 10, the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) reported a hospitalization rate of 15.77 percent for Trauma Service Area E, which along with Ellis County includes the Dallas-Fort Worth area and a total population of more than 8 million. Of the total 15,056 staffed inpatient beds for Trauma Service Area E, 13,676 are occupied, with 1,380 hospital beds available and 72 ICU beds. This marks nearly the second full week above the 15 percent threshold for the area, with the total dropping just below that mark on Dec. 5 and 6. 

For updates on COVID-19 in Ellis County, visit https://co.ellis.tx.us/992/COVID-19-Dashboard .

For the most current number of COVID-19 cases throughout the state, visit the Texas Department of State Health Services website at www.dshs.texas.gov/coronavirus.