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Local hospitalization rate jumps to 15%

Laredo Health Director Richard Chamberlain says if the rate remains 15% or more for the next seven days, we will have to take a step back and capacity will return to 50% for certain businesses.
Published: Nov. 2, 2020 at 9:21 PM CST
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LAREDO, Tex. (KGNS) - Webb County has now jumped to the 15% mark for its hospitalization rate.

It’s the threshold Governor Greg Abbott set for cities to stay under in order to increase its local business' capacity to more than 50%.

The Laredo Health Director Richard Chamberlain says Laredo and Webb County hit a 15% hospitalization rate on Sunday, a concerning number since a business' capacity status, and the ability for hospitals to perform elective surgery depends on the local hospitalization rate.

In order for certain businesses to operate with a 75% capacity level, the city’s hospitalization rate must remain 15% or less for at least seven consecutive days.

Chamberlain says if the rate remains 15% or more for the next seven days, we will have to take a step back and capacity will return to 50% for certain businesses.

When asked why the hospitalization rate increased despite officials also reporting less people being treated at the hospital, Laredo Health Authority Doctor Victor Trevino says since there is less state medical personnel and each hospitals' capacity is changing, which is used to calculate hospitalization rate.

“As our COVID-19 census goes down, so does our allocation of state medical personnel,” said Doctor Trevino. “The available personnel is what sets the true capacity of the hospitals, not available hospital beds. We saw this in the first wave, we had twenty ICU beds but only enough staff to sixteen. So it is very important that we have staff."

Despite hitting the 15% hospitalization rate, Webb County Judge Tano Tijerina says he is moving forward with allowing bars to reopen, but he warns the public bars will close again if the hospitalization rate continues to go up.

“If our numbers still skyrocket, which is in the hand of the people of Webb County, in that case we would have to shut down,” said Tijerina. “In this case, I will keep my word, and I will allow them to open and it will be on a weekly basis obviously.”

Judge Tijerina says only a few bars are depending on this since he says most bars have already changed their business model to also serve food which allows them to be open.

Doctor Trevino says as of now, Doctors Hospital of Laredo has demobilized some state medical staff.

A little over 200 remain across town.

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