Case Counts/Testing in Texas – Sunday, October 4th (3:15 PM data)
Total Tests Performed – 7,090,891
Confirmed Cases – 765,894 (2,181 new cases)
Active Cases – 71,319
Hospitalizations – 3,192 (13,147 available beds, 1,308 available ICU beds)
Fatalities – 16,025 (33 new deaths)
Recovered Cases – 680,083
Inside the Numbers
Positivity rate as of Saturday, October 3rd was 6.45%. One month ago, there were 4,456 new cases reported, one week ago there were 3, 283 new cases reported, compared to the 2,181 reported yesterday. The 7 day average has increased by 233 cases. The 3,192 COVID patients in hospitals now are 25 less than one week ago, and COVID patients make up 5.5% of total hospital beds in the state.
Texas One of Three States Seeing Decline in Cases
According to a report released over the weekend by CNN, Texas is one of just three states that is continuing to see a decline in positive cases. Texas, Missouri, and South Carolina are the three states seeing a decline, while other states are seeing an uptick. Nationally on Friday, Johns Hopkins University reported 54,506 cases, the highest single day number of cases since August 14th, when 64,601 cases were reported nationally. On Friday, Texas reported 3,346 new cases. Texas has seen an overall steady decline in cases for the past month since the surge in July.
Texas Attorney General Facing Serious Allegations
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton was the subject of an overwhelming rebellion by his own staff members Friday and into the weekend. First Assistant Attorney General Jeff Mateer, along with six other high ranking employees of the agency, sent a letter to the agency’s Director of Human Resources on Friday accusing the sitting Attorney General of abuse of office, acceptance of bribes, and other means of improper influence. The group requested a meeting with Paxton to address their concerns, but Paxton declined.
The allegations center around Paxton’s relationship with Austin real estate investor Nate Paul. Paul’s offices in Austin were raided by the FBI land other law enforcement agencies last April. No charges have been filed against Paul, and according to the FBI, the investigation into Paul’s business practices is ongoing. In response to the raid, and what is at the root of the allegations against Paxton, is the fact that Paxton recently appointed a “special prosecutor” who has issued a series of grand jury subpoenas that targeted adversaries of Paul, including some of the officials that conducted the initial raid. The subpoenas have since been quashed.
Paxton is already under indictment for failing to register with the State Securities Commission while acting as an agent to solicit investors for a technology company. In that case, Paxton is facing two felony charges. Governor Abbott and Lt. Governor Patrick have refused to comment further than claiming to be following the developments that are cause for concern. Republican US Congressman Chip Roy, once a top aide in the Attorney General’s office, today called on Paxton to resign. State Representative Sarah Davis, a Houston Republican and attorney, also today said that Paxton needs to publicly address the allegations, or immediately resign. Paxton was reelected in 2018 by less than 2 points over Democrat Justin Nelson, who spent less than 10% of what Paxton spent on reelction. If Paxton does resign, the Governor will appoint a replacement to fill out the remainder of the term that lasts until December of 2022.
Abbott Limits Ballot Drop Off Locations
In the midst of applications for mail in voting already being mailed to voters, and with early voting due to start next week, Governor Abbott on Friday issued another Executive Order that limited all counties in Texas to have only one drop off location for mail in ballots, and to require poll watchers from each political party to be present at the locations to ensure all requirements are being followed.. The order also gave counties less than 24 hours to close the additional locations. Voters who are eligible to vote by mail and don’t want to rely on the post office for delivery, can deliver their ballots to designated locations within their home county in the proper envelope, sign a roster and show proper identification.
In the order, Abbott claimed that the measure was needed to ensure election security. His claim is that by having poll watchers present during drop off to observe ballot deliveries will increase the integrity of the election and decrease the possibility for voter fraud. Almost immediately upon issuance of the order, Abbott was sued by the League of United Latin American Citizens, the League of Women Voters, and the Alliance for Retired Americans. These voting rights groups are asking a federal judge in Austin overturn Abbott’s Executive Order and allow the extra drop off locations to remain open, calling the order an attempt at voter suppression. Texas is one of only a very few states that is not allowing all voters to cast their vote by mail in ballot during the pandemic. Only voters over the age of 65 or with a disability are allowed to vote by mail in Texas.
Rapid Testing Provides Hope
Several companies, including Abbott Labs, are planning to ship 50 million rapid testing kits throughout the country each month, hoping to start everyone back on track to normalcy and security and leading to a true economic rebound. The tests can provide results in 15 minutes and can be used at restaurants, bars, shopping malls, and even for large gatherings such as sporting events and ball games. The tests have been used by some airlines in a pilot program. The state Department of Health has yet to provide details on when the tests will be available or how they will be deployed, but hopes to have more information this week.
There are 29 days unitl the November 3rd election and 99 days to the start of the Texas legislative session.