Capacity ordinance could be lifted FridayMedical pros caution Odessans not to relax

A controversial ordinance limiting Odessa businesses to 50 percent capacity and requiring all employees and customers to wear face coverings while inside businesses is expected to be lifted on Friday, Mayor David Turner said Tuesday.
Turner said the ordinance will be discontinued if the number of coronavirus patients taking up bed space in Ector County remains under 15 percent for seven continuous days, which would be Thursday. The rates had soared as high as 23.95 percent when Turner signed the Nov. 24 ordinance.
“The rates have been just under 15 percent for the past five days,” Turner said during a Tuesday press conference with local health officials. “The public listened and did what they were supposed to – that was the key. I’m very proud of our residents.”
Odessa Dr. Timothy Benton, the associate dean for clinical affairs at the Texas Tech Health Sciences Center Medical School, applauded the city’s efforts, but cautioned residents not to become lax.
“There are a lot of positives going on right now,” Benton said. “We’re seeing a plateau as far as hospital census. We’ve seen no (post-Thanksgiving) spike.
“But our commitment to wearing masks and social distancing cannot go away. We must stay the course.”
Local hospital officials say they are still expecting their first shipment of COVID-19 vaccinations on Dec. 21. Most Texas communities received their first shipments on Monday, but a state computer glitch caused a delay for Odessa.
There is still some concern because some communities like Midland, were expecting their vaccine shipment to arrive Monday, but it hasn’t arrived yet, Medical Center Hospital Chief Nursing Officer Christin Timmons said.
Timmons and Odessa Regional Medical Center Chief Medical Officer Dr. Rohith Saravanan said when the vaccines arrive their hospitals will begin offering them in stages to all hospital employees.
The vaccinations will be staggered over several weeks so that if there are any adverse reactions “it won’t wipe out all our staff,” Timmons said. Vaccinations for hospital employees are recommended, but won’t be required, Timmons and Saravanan said.
“Even though vaccinations will start soon, I want to caution people that we’re not going to see any effects from them for a good amount of time – one to two months,” Saravanan said. “The light at the end of the tunnel is getting brighter, but we need to hold tight to what we’re doing.”
ORMC reported that they had 29 COVID-19 patients on Tuesday, 14 in critical condition and 6 on ventilators. MCHS reported 83 patients, with 23 in critical condition or on ventilators.