Cooke County Judge Steve Starnes said today, Wednesday, he will consult with the county’s local health authorities should the area’s hospital region climb back to a 15% coronavirus-related hospitalization rate for seven days.
“Our priority will be to ensure we have the best solution for Cooke County based on the conditions at that time,” Starnes said in an email Wednesday, March 3.
Starnes’ reply to the Register came after Gov. Greg Abbott announced Tuesday, March 2, that state mandates are no longer needed to contain the coronavirus. With that announcement, he issued a new executive order which lifts the state’s mask mandate and allows businesses to open to 100% capacity beginning Wednesday, March 10.
The new executive order also gives Starnes the opportunity to impose mitigation strategies if the area’s hospital region gets above 15% for seven days. If he decides to do so, the farthest rollback could be 50% capacity for any type of entity.
Just last week, bars were given the green light to reopen in Cooke County.
In early December, coronavirus-related hospitalizations were above 15% for seven days for trauma service area region E which prompted a state mandate that closed bars and rolled back occupancy at restaurants to 50% from 75%. In order to get back to previous occupancy levels, the region had to be at or below 15% for seven days.
Cooke County is part of trauma service area region E, which includes most of the Metroplex.
For now, coronavirus protocols at all county facilities containing courtrooms will remain unchanged, Starnes said. Protocols include wearing a mask and getting your temperature checked at the door before entering.
“Since the governor did not rescind the disaster declaration, the Supreme Court’s emergency orders remain in effect until the Supreme Court rescinds, amends, or allows the orders to expire,” Starnes said of keeping the courthouse protocols in place.
The court’s current general emergency order, the 33rd Emergency Order, is currently set to expire April 1 unless extended, he said.
Cooke County Emergency Management Coordinator Ray Fletcher said he and the judge met today, Wednesday, March 3, to discuss the governor’s announcement.
Fletcher said he suggests following appropriate mask protocol. If you can’t properly social distance from people not in your immediate household, wear a mask, he advised.
“That’s the governor’s recommendation and I concur,” Fletcher said.