Judge Blackburn COVID-19 Statement

Belton, TX – On Monday, November 16, during the regular meeting of the Bell County Commissioners Court, Judge David Blackburn issued a statement in response to COVID-19 in Bell County. That statement is included in full below.

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. Counties that reside in Trauma Service Areas (TSAs) with high COVID 19 hospitalizations are excluded from these reopening’s.  Per the GA-32, areas with high hospitalizations means any Trauma Service Area that has had seven consecutive days in which the number of COVID 19 hospitalized patients as a percentage of total hospital capacity exceeds 15 percent, until such time as the Trauma Service Area has seven consecutive days in which the number of COVID 19 hospitalized patients as a percentage of total hospital capacity is 15 percent or less.

A county within a TSA that has high hospitalizations may still reopen up to 75% if the county meets attestation parameters established under GA-32.

According to State DSHS COVID dashboard for yesterday, Trauma Service Area L (which is comprised of 6 counties , Bell, Coryell, Hamilton, Lampasas, Milam, Mills)  there was a total of 1,282 staffed hospital beds and 310 of those were currently available…meaning we are at about 76% capacity. 

Under the Governor’s Order relating to reserving hospital bed capacity, this means that, for the region, we are at about 91% of capacity relative to the Governor’s threshold for hospital bed capacity. 

Discussions with our 3 area hospital system administrators also indicate that our local hospital capacity, while being managed, is seeing signs of stress as it relates to bed capacity and COVID. BSW currently has 46 COVID patients, the highest census of COVID patients since mid-August.  While BSW is below the Governor’s 15% threshold number requiring elective surgeries to cease, I am advised that they are currently not scheduling any new elective surgical cases that require a hospital bed for the first part of this week. 

Seton and Advent are also experiencing much the same as BSW as relates to hospital capacity and COVID patients and are making adjustments to better manage hospital bed capacity in order to stay below the Governor’s 15% threshold.

I share all this to simply say that we need to heed the advice and counsel of our health authorities and continue to be vigilant in our COVID health protocols.  Maintaining social distancing, wearing our face coverings when we are out and about and can’t maintain social distancing, and washing our hands frequently remain our best line of defense against COVID. 

These health protocols are also our best line of defense against a return to more stringent health, economic and business measures.  I don’t think any of us want a return to some of the measures we saw in the Spring of this year … measures that we are seeing re-imposed in other parts of the country as we speak. 

As we gather for the upcoming holidays with friends and family, please be careful and safe…for your own good, and for the good of those friends and family that are with you.