AUSTIN, Texas - Travis County Judge Sam Biscoe has requested Gov. Greg Abbott take more action in response to rising COVID-19 numbers in the state, including rolling back to 25% occupancy.
The letter says the 5-county Austin MSA is approaching, and may surpass, 70% capacity in the regional hospital system and now an Alternative Care Site is being prepared and COVID-19 testing is being rationed to only those with symptoms.
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Biscoe thanked Abbott for rolling back occupancy and closing bars on Friday, calling the actions "meaningful steps toward slowing this spike." He then requested further action from the state, including enforcing mandatory masking, enforcing a prohibition on social gatherings of more than 10 people (if they are not of the same household or engaged in/seeking essential services), rolling back occupancy to 25% statewide, and allowing major metropolitan areas to roll back to Stay Home orders.
"If you are not willing to take these actions on behalf of the state, please roll back your restriction on local leaders being able to take these swift actions to safeguard the health of our communities," Biscoe wrote.
READ THE FULL LETTER BELOW:
Dear Governor Abbott:
The partnership in the 5-county Austin MSA includes epidemiologists, infectious disease doctors, hospital executives, physician leaders, and public health leaders. Our partnership met Friday to discuss our current circumstances. We are now approaching or have surpassed 70% capacity in our regional hospital system. Austin Travis County Public Health is preparing an Alternative Care Site. Because of rapidly increasing demand for testing, our Public Health and Community Care testing are now being rationed to only those with symptoms (not the asymptomatic or those who have come in contact with confirmed COVID + patients). The increased numbers of tests have caused a commensurate increase in demand for analysis. CPL (our largest lab) has rationed analysis to only those tests coming from the hospitals for severely ill patients in order to reduce turn-around time.
Our numbers of confirmed positives and the lag time between the testing and the test results have outstripped both our ability to contact trace and the utility in contact tracing. In summary, the rapid increase in cases has outstripped our ability to track, measure, and mitigate the spread of disease.
Thank you for your actions this past Friday. The rolling back of occupancy to 50% for most businesses and the closing of bars were meaningful steps toward slowing this spike. In addition, I respectfully request that the state take action to:
• Enforce mandatory masking as recommended by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention;
• Enforce a prohibition on social gatherings of more than 10 people not of the same household and not engaged in or seeking essential services;
• Roll back to 25% occupancy statewide as was included in your Phase I Order GA 21 ; and
• Allow the major metropolitan areas to roll all the way back to Stay Home orders based on worsening circumstances.
If you are not willing to take these actions on behalf of the state, please roll back your restriction on local leaders being able to take these swift actions to safeguard the health of our communities.
Samuel T. Biscoe
Travis County Judge
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