ANGLETON — It won’t be like turning the clock back to last October, but Brazoria County made another few steps toward pre-COVID life as County Judge Matt Sebesta gave the OK for the county to opt-in to the state’s conditional bar reopening.
According to a lengthy set of protocols issued by the Governor’s Strike Force to Open Texas, drinking establishments can only operate at 50 percent capacity.
“We meet the criteria,” Sebesta said. “We have less than the 15 percent that are COVID patients taking up hospital beds, and the public health authority felt that the protocols in (Executive Order) GA-32 were adequate for public safety.”
County judges who, like Sebesta, opt-in to bars reopening have to fill out an online attestation form from the Texas Alcohol Beverage Commission and then wait for a decision. If approved, bars can reopen Wednesday, according to the governor’s guidelines.
Gov. Greg Abbott made the announcement of the opt-in plan Wednesday following an intra-party brouhaha that had the state Republican Party ready to protest a governor and state government run by members of that party.
“It is time to open up more, provided that safe protocols continue to be followed,” Abbott said.
He later added, “If we continue to contain COVID, then these openings, just like other businesses, should be able to expand in the near future.”
However, new COVID-19 cases continue to appear. The county reported 24 cases Friday, bringing the total since the start of the pandemic in mid-March to 10,734. Seven of those cases are at least two weeks old. The county reported no new cases among local assisted-living facilities, nursing homes or the jail. There was one probable case and one transferred out of the county.
According to the Brazosport ISD, the district’s cases include one student at Madge Griffith Elementary, two students at Brazoswood High School, one staff member at Lake Jackson Intermediate and one non-campus staff member.
There was a notable amount of activity at state prison units within the county Thursday to Friday. Terrell added two active inmate cases to bring its total to four and Ramsey added two inmate cases to bring its total to three. Ramsey added one staff case for a total of seven and Stringfellow had a reduction in staff cases from nine to eight.
Terrell, Ramsey and Clemens units all had 69 people under medical restriction, with Terrell adding 25 people to its Thursday total, Ramsey removing 166 people and Clemens adding 61 people. Darrington brought its medical restriction group from 266 to zero, while Scott went from zero to 233, and Stringfellow reduced its population on restriction from 132 to 49.
The new infections announced daily are from tests taken at least several days previously. On average, it takes two to four days for labs to return results, but some tests could take longer before the findings are reported to the county.
For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough, that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia and death. The vast majority of people recover.