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Caldwell County orders bars closed and reduces restaurant capacity to 50-percent

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Caldwell County bars will once again be forced to close their doors, and restaurants must reduce their capacity to 50-percent on Jan. 13 at 12:01 a.m., according to a statement by County Judge Hoppy Haden.

“The provisions of GA-32, suspending elective surgeries, closing bars, and reducing business capacity to 50-percent will go into effect in Caldwell County on Wednesday, Jan. 13, 2021 at 12:01 a.m.” the statement said.  

Judge Haden was forced to make the closures after Dr. John Hellerstedt of the Texas Department of State Health Services sent a letter notifying Caldwell county of high hospitalizations in their Trauma Service Area (TSA).

The designation is reached if the TSA, “has had seven consecutive days in which the number of COVID-19 hospitalized patients as a percentage of total hospital capacity exceeds 15 percent,” according to the letter.

Caldwell County is in TSA O which also includes Bastrop, Blanco, Burnet, Caldwell, Fayette, Hays, Lee, Llano, San Saba, Travis, and Williamson counties. The ruling allows for the area to open up once the number of hospitalized patients in the TSA dips below 15-percent for seven consecutive days.

LPR reached out to Ascension Texas to find out the actual hospitalization rates at Ascension Seton Edgar B. Davis hospital in Luling, and nearby Ascension Seton Hays Hospital in nearby Kyle. Individual data was not provided.

They instead referred to a Jan. 8 statement that said Ascension Seton, Baylor Scott and White Health and St. David’s HealthCare, had 2,473 staffed beds that were 74-percent occupied, and 483 ICU beds were 89-percent occupied.

Unlike COVID case and death rates, data regarding hospital capacity is not publicly available with the Texas Department of State Health Services.

The forced closure is the latest blow for area businesses who were operating on shaky financial ground following a tough 2020.

Local bar, The Pearl, posted on their Facebook page, “We are sad to close again. We ran a safe bar, free of COVID since reopening October 14, from Jan. 1 to March 19, 2020, the brief few days we were able to open in June. None of our staff have had COVID, and we have repeatedly been tested negative. Keep wearing your masks and get this infection rate and hospitalization rate down again so we can reopen.”

When asked how he felt about the latest closings Parind Vora of Lockhart Bistro said, “You are not going to be able to print what I want to say.”

Sarah Heard of Commerce Café reported her business had not gone above 50-percent capacity during the pandemic because of the requirement to have tables six-feet apart.

“Both of our restaurants are still at 50-percent, so it won’t affect us in that way,” Heard said by phone Monday. “But what will affect us is everyone hearing that and decide not to go out.”

She added her business has and will continue to have staff wear mask and follow all the sanitizing protocol that has worked so far.

“We are following the same protocol that has always worked, so we still feel it’s safe to go out,” Heard said.

“While we wait for the population to receive the vaccine, it is imperative that we continue to take care of ourselves and each other by socially distancing, wearing face coverings in public, and practicing good hygiene,” Lockhart Mayor Lew White said in a statement. “Stay safe and please, be patient. Over time, the light at the end of the tunnel will get brighter as we move closer to the pandemic’s finish line.”

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