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McLennan County faces business capacity rollback based on COVID-19 hospital cases

McLennan County faces business capacity rollback based on COVID-19 hospital cases


McLennan County restaurants and businesses could have to revert back to 50% capacity, if the state determines that COVID-19 hospitalizations in the area are too high under Gov. Greg Abbott’s latest executive orders.

Late Sunday, McLennan County Judge Scott Felton received notice from Department of State Health Services Commissioner Dr. John Hellerstedt that McLennan and four adjacent counties would have to reduce restaurant, retail store, gyms, office buildings, museums and libraries to 50% capacity, down from 75%, because of the rate of hospitalizations in the area.

In the five-county area known as “Trauma Service Area M,” which also includes Bosque, Falls, Hill and Limestone counties, more than 15% of all hospitalizations in the past seven days were due to COVID-19, Hellerstedt reported.

Abbott’s Sept. 17 order allowed certain businesses and venues to expand their capacity to 75% and allowing elective surgeries to resume in counties with COVID-19 hospitalization rates that fell below that 15% threshold.

Felton said he is working with Hellerstedt and DSHS to allow McLennan County venues to remain at existing capacity because there is some discrepancy between the state’s hospitalization numbers and the county’s.

“We don’t show that we exceed that 15% on a seven-day average,” he said.

Felton said he expects to receive some clarification Tuesday from DSHS and to be able to advise McLennan County businesses whether they will have to reduce capacity.

Three of the state’s 22 trauma service areas, all in South Texas, have been advised to reduce their business capacities and prohibit elective surgeries.

State data show that Trauma Service Area M has 64 COVID-19 patients receiving treatment in hospitals, out of a total of 382 hospitalizations. That is about 16.8% of all hospitalizations.

The Waco-McLennan County Public Health District reported Monday that 40 COVID-19 patients are receiving treatment in Waco hospitals, including 14 people who are on ventilators.

COVID-19 cases by age, Sept. 28

The health district on Monday reported the county’s 108th COVID-19-related death, involving a 66-year-old white man who died in a local hospital.

The district on Sunday attributed the death of a 30-year-old Hispanic woman to COVID-19, the youngest to die of the disease in this county.

Additionally, 61 more people had tested positive for COVID-19 as of Monday, bringing the total number of cases in McLennan County to 8,061. An estimated 408 people are currently considered to have active cases.

According to the health district, McLennan County averaged 47 new cases a day in August and 44 cases a day in September, through Wednesday, compared to 40 per day in June and 90 per day in July.

Health district spokesperson Kelly Craine said the fact that case numbers have remained stagnant three weeks after Labor Day is a good sign, but she warned against people becoming too complacent by not wearing their masks and social distancing.

“We’ve seen before COVID can explode at the drop of a hat,” she said.

As usual, the 18-25 year old age range represented the largest number of new cases Monday, with 14 cases in that bracket. It was followed closely by the 50-59 age bracket, with 13 cases.

Friday marked the first time in at least three weeks the 18-35 age bracket did not represent the largest number of new cases. The health district reported 77 new cases in the 40-49 age bracket and 69 new cases in the 50-59 age bracket, or 35% of the week’s totals.

Craine said people in those age ranges are the most mobile, going to work and school, but ultimately it comes down to who is getting tested for the health district to determine some kind of trend.

The next round of free COVID-19 testing is Friday at Waco Fire Station No. 5, 4515 Bagby Ave. It is a drive-thru site, open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Registration is required at

US surpasses 200,000 deaths: A timeline of COVID-19’s spread

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