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Abbott: Most of Texas can operate at larger capacity, allow elective surgeries and nursing home visits

Gov. Greg Abbott Photo: Office of the Governor of Texas

BEXAR COUNTY, Tex. (Texas News Radio) — Texas Governor Greg Abbott announced Thursday that 19 of the state’s 22 hospital regions can increase business capacity.

The governor said the state is switching which metrics it is using to determine which businesses can reopen and deciding when to reintroduce restrictions.

Previously, the state had been using positivity rates to determine actions.

Now, the state will be using hospitalization rates in the state’s hospital regions to determine which areas can reopen more and which areas need more restrictions.

Abbott said the new standard is the percentage of hospital admissions are due to coronavirus.  If an area has at least 15 percent of hospitalizations connected to coronavirus, it is a sign of greater spread of the virus.  Those areas with coronavirus hospitalization rates above 15 percent for seven days could be subject to more restrictions.  Areas below 15 percent will be able to have fewer restrictions.

The governor said 19 of the state’s 22 hospital regions are eligible for looser restrictions.  The areas still seeing high coronavirus hospitalizations are the Rio Grande Valley, Laredo, and Victoria.

The other regions will have the following changes: retail, restaurants, gyms, offices, and manufacturing plants can operate at 75 percent capacity; hospitals can resume normal elective medical operations; and nursing home visits can begin again, except for facilities seeing a virus outbreak.  That takes effect Monday.

Abbott said bars across the state will remain closed.

In addition to the changes in restrictions, the governor said more rapid tests will be made available across the state.  These rapid tests will give results in 15 minutes instead of waiting days to confirm a coronavirus diagnosis.

This story will be updated.

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