A rollback looms as Covid-19 surges in Erath County and Texas Health Stephenville reaches capacity.


By SARA VANDEN BERGE


As new cases of Covid-19 continue to increase across the country, a surge in North Texas is threatening to rollback restrictions.


In October Gov. Greg Abbott issued an order stating that if Covid-19 hospitalizations make up 15% of a region’s hospital capacity, bars will close, business capacity will drop and elective surgeries will be put on hold.


And there is a real possibility that could happen in Erath County.


On Tuesday, local officials reported 40 new cases of Covid-19; 22 in Stephenville, one in Dublin and 17 in the county.


The total number of active cases now stands at 246.


Stephenville’s health authority Dr. Kelly Doggett told Beneath the Surface News that local hospitalizations are well over 15%.


“We have had anywhere from 10 to 12 Covid patients hospitalized at a time over the last few days and possibly longer,” Dr. Doggett said. “One day last week there were only two patients in the hospital that did not have Covid.


“With current staffing, the hospital has been at capacity. Over the last few days the hospital has been full and patients have been waiting in the emergency room for hours trying to find another hospital that can accept them.”


Tuesday marks the fifth straight day that Covid hospitalizations have exceeded 15% of total capacity at Texas Health Stephenville.

“After two more days at these levels, Governor Abbott’s Open Texas Act will automatically roll back to previous levels which will include closing the bars and rolling back restaurant capacity.


“Essentially this will do nothing because most bars now serve food and are classified as restaurants. There is no one at the door checking occupancy levels at restaurants so they are basically on the honor system. Some of our local restaurants have done an exemplary job during this pandemic, but others have not.


“Basically, the management of the pandemic from here forward is largely in the hands of the people. They are the ones that have the power to keep flattening the curve. People must wear masks, maintain social distancing and wash their hands frequently.”


Dr. Doggett said he doesn’t expect a vaccine to become widely available for months and that things will likely get much worse in the next six to 12 weeks.


“Some have said that it will be one of the darkest in American medical history. I think this is a possibility if we do not change our behavior.


“I think we should look at the way we are managing public mass gatherings. If they are allowed, it is my opinion that masks should be mandatory. My hope is that local elected public officials will consider taking some sort of action regarding planned public activities over the holidays.


“We can do it, but we are going to have to demonstrate our resolve and fortitude to get through this difficult time.”