WACO, TX — During the month of January, hospital rates in Trauma Service Area M reached nearly 35%. These rates were some of the highest since the onset of the pandemic in March.
With rising rates comes restaurants and retail shops limiting capacity to 50%. As we finally see a drop in rates, Mark Arnold, owner of the Cameron Trading Co. in downtown Waco, is excited for the possibilities lower hospitalization rates could bring.
"Well, it does help us because more people are out, more people are relaxed and it just creates more traffic," he said.
Keeping his business open seven days a week is a way for him to stay afloat during the pandemic. Arnold says his business relies on not only locals but tourists who come in.
"It is something for people to do to come and do, and there's still a lot of people coming to Waco just to visit," he said.
As of February 2, the hospitalization rate of Trauma Service Area M sits at 13.65%, according to the Texas Department of State Health Services.
Chief Medical Officer of Ascension Providence Brian Beckard credits the lower rate to the fact that the holidays are over.
"As we've gotten out now a month from the last of those, I think those exposures, those infections and those hospitalizations have started declining," Beckard said.
Along with hospitalization rates, Dr. Jackson Griggs says McLennan County's cases per day have dropped to their lowest in five months.
"Our new cases have continued to drop and are now at 17 new cases per day per 100,000 population on a 7-day rolling average," Dr. Griggs said.
As rates drop, Arnold will now wait for the "okay" from the county to increase his capacity rates once again.
"I'd rather not see it happen at all, that is what would make me happy but of course you want everything to be lower for sure," Arnold said.
It's hard to predict how rates will continue on in the future, but ultimately it's up to the community to social distance, wear a mask and wash your hands.