COLLEGE STATION, TX — On Jan 1, 2020, Brazos County Judge, Duane Peters, received notification from the Texas Department of Health & Human Services that trauma service area N (including Brazos County) had 7 consecutive days where COVID-19 patients exceeded 15% in hospitalization rate.
However, there are still "official" documents needed, before any of the previous orders applying to restaurants and bars will be actually rescinded.
"To my knowledge, it's not been acted upon yet, locally," shared Costa Dallis, a College Station business owner.
According to said letter received Jan 1, all businesses currently operating at an increased capacity of 75% must "now" reduce occupancy to 50%. Additionally, all bars are to close. However, College Station Mayor Mooney says there "is" more that is needed, before any action is taken.
"We've been working with the governor's office, TABC and Rep. Kyle Kacal has also been very helpful," Mayor Mooney said.
Mayor Mooney says based on what he has learned as of late afternoon on Dec 31., written communication is still needed in Judge Duane Peters' hands, before bars are to close and restaurants to rollback occupancy again.
"Since he (Judge Peters) has not received the written communication from the Governor's office saying that we have exceeded the 15% of hospitalization, then we do not need to, at this time, reduce our restaurant capacity back down to 50% ,nor, do we need to close any other businesses," Mayor Mooney added.
One business owner, well-known in the Brazos Valley for over 20 years says, he has "not" received any official word about rolling back occupancy for any of his several College Station businesses.
"Well, I've not been told anything directly. I just pick up what I read on the news. It's something we already knew about. It's just, when we hit the 15%, just like the rest of the state, that's when we reduce to 50% occupancy, we close the bars," Costa Dallis shared.
Dallis, owner of Public and Main, The Backyard and El Jefe, among many other establishments, has grown accustomed to pivoting and becoming familiar to changes impacting business operations.
"We are so used to things changing so rapidly, I don't want to say I am 'desensitized' to the changes, but nothing really surprises me. What is going on right now, is not sustainable though," Dallis added in comment.
Mayor Mooney shared that there are a number of hospital rooms in Brazos County that aren't staffed. Therefore, "reflecting" inaccurate numbers to the state, which prompts many of these restrictions and changes.
"One of things we are concerned about is we still have rooms that are not being staffed, that are available in our hospitals." the Mayor shared.
He went on to share he believes the State is "misinterpreting" the counties available space, and they are,"using that as a smaller number of rooms as the denominator and coming up with a higher percentage of occupancy." Mayor Mooney went on to share his plan of alerting the State, "that some rooms that hospitals have simply aren't staffed right now, because they don't need them." He also shared should Brazos County need those rooms, they will be staffed and fully function-able.
Mooney says College Station's bars and restaurants will be operating this New Year's weekend, the same as they have been over the last few months.
However, he does expect the new communication will arrive, and be placed in Judge Duane Peters hands, early this coming week.