According to a letter Hays County received Sunday from Dr. John Hellerstedt, Director of the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS), businesses can return to pre-January 8th capacity levels as hospital Trauma Service Area O, of which Hays County is a part, has remained under the 15% COVID-19 threshold for seven (7) consecutive days.
Under the rules of Governor Abbott’s Executive Order GA-32, bars can reopen, elective surgeries can be scheduled, and businesses can increase their capacity to 75 percent.
In a press release on Sunday, Hays County Judge Ruben Becerra stated they believe the region’s efforts to slow the spread of the virus are working.
“This is a positive step in the right direction,” he said. “Everything we are doing right now, combined with rolling out the vaccine to everyone who wants it, will aid in the fight against COVID-19.”
He added that Hays County officials continue to research, learn and consult with regional partners, including Austin Public Health, to get vaccines into as many people who want it as soon as possible.
The OES and the Hays County Local Health Department (HCLHD) are collaborating on creating a waiting list for anyone in the DSHS Phase 1A and Phase 1B groups.
During Tuesday’s commissioner’s court, Office of Emergency Services Director (OES), Mike Jones stated he planned to create a “hybrid list.” He explained that the “hybrid list” would be made up of people who try to signup and are not able to secure a spot.
Those who signed up but did not get a spot would be placed on the new hybrid list, and would be first in line for the next round of received vaccine; however, specifics were not given.
Jones cautioned that the system will still lead to frustrations since the County doesn’t have many vaccine doses to dispense at this time.
“While no system is perfect,” he said, “Our goal is to take care of Hays County residents in the most efficient and effective manner possible. Receiving less than 2,000 doses per week from DSHS is a frustration felt by everyone at the County and in our community.”
Any DSHS-designated vaccine hub must make the doses it receives available to anyone in Texas, not just the county in which the hub is located. Therefore, Jones said, people from all over the state are also trying to get into the vaccine clinics in this county.
“It’s an unfortunate situation for all of us,” he said.
Jones said once the waiting list set-up is finalized, the County will share the information on its website, hayscountytx.com, on its emergency information site haysinformed.com and on the County’s official social media channels, including Facebook and Twitter.
To receive text alerts about the COVID-19 vaccine, text COVID to 844-928-3213.
More information is also on the Hays County COVID-19 Vaccine FAQ page. The County’s COVID-19 information page also has useful information for Hays County residents. Additional vaccine information is available from the Texas Department of State Health Services.
According to state law, all county emergency services are under the purview of the county judge, under Sec. 418.001 and that includes the appointed position of Hays County Emergency Management Coordinator (under Section Sec. 418.1015 c), Alex Villalobos. Additionally, Villalobos is employed as the commissioner’s court chief of staff.
In Texas, mayors and county judges serve as emergency management directors, bearing the responsibility for maintaining an emergency management program within their respective jurisdictions in Texas. (Chapter 418 of the Texas Government Code and Title 37, Part 1, Chapter 7 Texas Administrative Code.)
The county’s OES Director should not be confused with Becerra’s position as a Director of Emergency Management.
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