Officials detail mask order, hospital capacity

Parker County officials say there is a local capacity of about 80 beds. Currently, two individuals are being hospitalized for COVID-19.

Parker County Judge Pat Deen said his most recent executive order issued Wednesday regarding the wearing of face masks will help deal with large events coming up.

Deen issued an order Wednesday afternoon requiring masks for groups of 100 or more people where social distancing is not an option.

“The purpose of that was to get us through some of these specific events where large numbers could be an issue. This is specific to the events we have this week and then that order will expire,” Deen said. “It’s for 100-plus gatherings where spacing is not an option and where it poses a potential risk.”

However, Gov. Greg Abbott Thursday afternoon issued a state executive order that requires "all Texans to wear a face covering over the nose and mouth in public spaces in counties with 20 or more positive COVID-19 cases, with few exceptions," according to a press release office.

Abbott's order is effective 12:01 p.m. Friday.

View the full order here: https://open.texas.gov/uploads/files/organization/opentexas/EO-GA-29-use-of-face-coverings-during-COVID-19-IMAGE-07-02-2020.pdf

Some upcoming events in Parker County include Spark in the Park and the Parker County Sheriff’s Posse Frontier Days Celebration and Rodeo. Deen said the PCSP has put their own guidelines in place for the rodeo, which includes having masks on-hand for those that would like one and for those in areas where social distancing isn’t practical. The city of Weatherford is requiring masks for its Spark in the Park Independence Day celebration.

"Keeping people safe from criminal activity is a top priority and [we] do not have the resources to take officers off patrol to police non-compliance situations for not wearing a mask," Deen said.

Some businesses have set their masks policies, including H-E-B.

“Our containment strategy has been very proactive, our community has been very proactive and if they want to require masks in H-E-B, then OK,” Deen said. “That’s their decision to do that.”

But Deen said it is not government’s role to mandate masks.

“Our community needs to be personally responsible and take the necessary precautions, and we’ll get through this together,” Deen said. “The numbers tell us we’re exactly where we thought we would be and it’s in line with how we’ve handled this all along — not putting restrictions on everyone and how they live.”

As of Thursday morning, Parker County had 125 active COVID-19 cases, 165 recovered cases and one death.

“I think we have done a really good job of not overreacting to this situation. We’re very blessed here that we haven’t been losing people. We knew the numbers were going to go up when we opened up, so it’s really no surprise to me and our team,” Deen said. “We’re looking at 125 people that have it, 165 got it and recovered from it and nearly 3,500 people have been tested for it, which is the highest for a county of our population.”

Deen said it is important for the community to keep the number in perspective.

“We did have a spike in positive cases here and we’ve got our hands around it now. These numbers tell us that when people get it, they’re recovering from it and they move on,” Deen said. “We have to keep in perspective what these numbers mean and continue to move forward.”

Deen said the county will still be able to get the same data from the Texas Department of State Health Services for COVID-19 reporting.

“We’re going back to the original way we were [reporting], so the data is the same. The only difference is the lag with DSHS, but it’s the same data. It’s just a matter of timing. We can only do what we can with what we’ve got to work with,” Deen said. “We’ll be transitioning to put everything on our website and updating that on a regular basis. We’re moving away from Facebook from a productivity standpoint.”

Medical City Fort Worth Director of Community and Public Relations Tommy Dold said hospital bed capacity is available for COVID-19 patients.

“Medical City Healthcare hospitals have well-established protocols to care for patients with infectious disease, including COVID-19. We have the bed capacity, staffing, personal protective equipment (PPE), and supplies to meet our community’s healthcare needs,” Dold said. “We are working in partnership with local and state health departments and the CDC, and continue to monitor the situation closely.”

DFW Hospital Council President and CEO Stephen Love issued statements this week pertaining to North Texas hospital capacity also saying ICU capacity, staff and supplies is available.

“For months, each hospital has prepared to address the anticipated needs of this pandemic and have surge plans in place to successfully manage their capacity to continue treating both COVID-19 and non-COVID-19 patients,” Love said. “While this pandemic is unprecedented, our hospital systems have learned much over the past few months.”

In Parker County, Deen said the capacity is approximately 80 beds and there are currently two COVID-19 hospitalizations.

“There were five and three have been released,” Deen said.

The county was sending patients to Medical City Arlington or Fort Worth to maintain an open capacity locally; however, because COVID-19 is not overwhelming the county, residents are now being hospitalized at Medical City Weatherford.

“There’s not a capacity issue whatsoever and we want to keep it that way,” Deen said.

Dold, Love and Deen said the public plays a key role in ensuring hospital capacity remains available by continuing to social distancing, frequently washing your hands and wearing masks when necessary.

“Each of us are personally responsible for making good decisions, but I don’t think we give ourselves enough credit,” Deen said. “I think thus far the community has been just great working together — businesses being proactive, being respectful on decisions being made — and I think really that’s the most important thing. All in all, Parker County is in a great position right now.”

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