Stephens County moves to Stage 5 as COVID-19 cases increase
Stephens County has reached and exceeded regional hospital capacity for intensive care unit (ICU) beds and is asking that citizens follow health and safety protocols.
The news comes as Stephens Memorial Hospital’s daily updates continue to see an increase of COVID-19 cases around the community. As of Sunday, October 11, SMH is reporting 29 active cases within the Stephens County community.
“Citizens of Breckenridge and Stephens County, we met today with our local health authorities, hospital, city, and county management about a critical issue that has developed over the past few days,” An update from Stephens County stated. “As you are all aware, our local case count has risen recently. Additionally, our regional ICU has exceeded capacity. Hospital capacity is the issue that requires that we raise our community health level to five.”
After beginning at just nine active cases on Monday, September 28 and Tuesday, September 29. COVID-19 cases dramatically increased on Wednesday, September 30, moving to 13 active cases, and by Friday, October 2, COVID-19 cases reached 18. An increase continued over that weekend, and by Sunday, October 4, Ste-phens County saw 23 active cases. The week of October 5 saw another fluctuation of cases as a few citizens were added as active cases and others were moved to the recovered list but remained with COVID symptoms.
The increase in the restrictions category is the highest-ranking in the county since Monday, July 20.
Stage 5 of the community health plan will require face coverings per GA-29 when inside a commercial entity or when outdoors, and social distancing isn’t feasible.
The plan will also require shelter in place for all high-risk community members. Travel outside of Stephens County will be strongly discouraged.
The increase of active cases moved Stephens County off the exempt last week, perGovernor Greg Abbott’s mask order in GA-29.
“NOW, THEREFORE, I, Greg Abbott, Governor of Texas, by virtue of the power and authority vested in me by the Constitution and laws of the State of Texas, do hereby order the following on a statewide basis effective at 12:01 p.m. on July 3, 2020:
Every person in Texas shall wear a face covering over the nose and mouth when inside a commercial entity or other building or space open to the public, or when in an outdoor public space. Wherever it is not feasible to maintain six feet of social distancing from another person not in the same household; provided, however, that this face-covering requirement does not apply to the following:
1. any person younger than 10 years of age;
2. any person with a medical condition or disability that prevents wearing a face covering.
3. Any person while the person is consuming food or drink, or is seated at a restaurant to eat or drink;
4. any person while the person is (a) exercising outdoors or engaging in physical activity outdoors, and (b) maintaining a safe distance from other people not in the same household;
5. Any person while the person is driving alone or with passengers who are part of the same household as the driver;
6. any person obtaining a service that requires temporary removal of the face-covering for security surveillance, screening, or a need for specific access to the face, such as while visiting a bank or while obtaining a personalcare service involving the face, but only to the extent necessary for the temporary removal;
7. any person while the person is in a swimming pool, lake, or similar body of water;
8. any person who is voting, assisting a voter, serving as a poll watcher, or actively administering an election, but wearing a face-covering is strongly encouraged;
9. any person who is actively providing or obtaining access to religious worship, but wearing a face-covering is strongly encouraged;
10. any person while the person is giving a speech for broadcast or to an audience.
The Breckenridge American will continue to monitor the COVID-19 pandemic.