The regional hospitalization rate remains above 15 percent, according to the Wharton County Office of Emergency Management (OEM) in a report coordinators provided to the Wharton County Commissioners Court during a regular meeting on Monday, Jan. 25.

On Monday, the Trauma Service Area (TSA) rate for Region Q was at 18.58 percent, which was a slight decrease from 19.3 percent on Friday, Jan. 22.

A discussion of who makes up to the TSA Region Q was brought up by elected officials like Donna Thornton, who is the county treasurer.

She asked which hospitals are grouped in region Q alongside Wharton County.

The TSAs are set up by the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) and the South East Texas Regional Advisory Council (SETRAC) with the hospital capacity of these areas being used to determine COVID-19 restriction under Gov. Greg Abbott’s GA -32 Executive Order from last year.

Judge Phillip Spenrath said all of Houston, Fort Bend and Sugar Land hospitals and the surrounding area are grouped in Region Q.

“One of the arguments for the reason the COVID-19 percentage rate is high is because all the surrounding area sends their people into our region,” Spenrath said. “We have the super medical centers, we do have the largest population so it’s puffing the system up.”

Wharton County Office of Emergency Management Coordinator Andy Kirkland said Memorial Hermann and Methodist have a “huge” case load that counts “against” Wharton County.

Kirkland said, “we need them to go the other way.” Among the other counties in Region Q are Austin, Colorado, Fort Bend, Harris, Matagorda, Montgomery, Walker, and Waller.

Debbie Cenko, who is the OEM deputy coordinator, chimed in her opinion on the matter of continuously being above 15 percent.

“We’re not unique; if you look at the state DSHS website, nearly every trauma service area is at 15 percent or over,” Cenko said. “Even though we have a lot of hospitals, we have a lot of beds so the percentage no matter if you’re in a huge (population) like ours or little area, there’s a lot that are above.”

Last month, Galveston County Judge Mark Henry sent a letter to DSHS requesting a TSA change. In his letter he said Galveston and Brazoria counties would like to be moved from Region R to Region Q.

The reason for this request is many of its local hospitals have been admitting COVID-19 patients who are from TSA-Q.

When the regional hospitalization rate drops to 15 percent  or lower for seven consecutive days, Wharton County restaurants and bars would open up once again, in accordance with Executive Order GA-32.

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