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Galveston County leaders say state’s rollback order is ‘ridiculous,’ based on flawed data

Galveston, Brazoria and Chambers are among the SE Texas counties ordered to roll back their reopening plans because of high hospitalization rates.

GALVESTON COUNTY, Texas — Galveston County Judge Mark Henry is asking Gov. Greg Abbott to reconsider the order to roll back the county’s reopening restrictions.

Henry said the state’s order is “ridiculous” and based on flawed data with multiple discrepancies.

According to the state, Galveston, Chambers, Brazoria, Hardin, Jasper, Jefferson, Liberty, Orange and Newton counties make up a Trauma Service Area with a high rate of COVID-19 hospitalizations.

State data shows the area had seven consecutive days when the percentage of total COVID patients exceeded 15%.

RELATED: Texas orders some counties to roll back reopening plans because of high hospitalization rates

In the last phase of reopening Texas, Abbott said the 15% threshold would force counties to scale back indoor business capacity to 50%. They’ve also been ordered to pause elective surgeries again.

Henry pointed out that Galveston County hospitals are nowhere near 15% capacity so they shouldn’t be lumped together with the other counties.

“There are no capacity or staffing problems in Galveston County,” Henry said at a news conference. “We are even accepting patients from out-of-state and out-of-county."

Henry pointed out that only 65 COVID-19 patients are currently in Galveston County hospitals.

However, the Galveston County Health District said they are worried about what's ahead as cases creep up.

“We are seeing our number of hospitalized COVID-19 patients continue to rise as we see the number of cases in the county rise. We are concerned over the next two to three weeks that we may get close to or reach that 15% threshold,” said Galveston County Local Health Authority Dr. Philip Keiser.

State Rep. Mayes Middleton complained this rollback could push already struggling small businesses over the edge.

“So many are suffering right now. So many haven’t been able to recover from the first shutdown,” Middleton said. “It’s their life savings. They’ve invested everything they have.”

The District 24 representative called small businesses “the backbone of every community," especially in Galveston, which depends heavily on tourism dollars.

“Texans have a basic right to make a living and feed their family,” Middleton said.

He called on the state to trust Texans to make the right decisions for themselves.

Henry filed a waiver two weeks ago, asking the state to exempt Galveston County when he first noticed the state’s data discrepancies. He’s filed two more since then but hasn’t heard back.

The state issued this statement Monday on the rollbacks:

"This is due to the governor’s executive order, GA-32, which allowed for opening to 75% of capacity for various businesses. That is rolled back if the number of hospitalized COVID patients in a trauma service are greater than 15 percent of the overall hospital capacity for seven consecutive days. The letters sent to county judges today are attached as is the executive order. There is more information at https://www.dshs.texas.gov/ga32/."