Case Counts/Testing in Texas – Thursday, April 15th (3:50 PM data)
Total Tests Performed – 26,794,446
Confirmed Cases – 2,434,200 (2,770 new cases)
Active Cases – 64,360
Hospitalizations – 2,931 (11,334 available beds, 1,028 available ICU beds)
Fatalities – 48,425 (84 new deaths)
Recovered Cases – 2,695,504
Vaccine Data – Thursday, April 15th (4:00 PM data)
Doses Shipped by state – 16,098,740
People with one dose received – 9,707,452
People fully vaccinated – 6,121,223
Total doses administered – 15,229,321
Inside the Numbers
Positivity rate as of Wednesday, April 14th was 6.49%. One month ago, there were 3,700 new cases reported, one week ago there were 2,400 new cases reported, compared to the 2,770 reported yesterday. The 2,931 COVID patients in hospitals now are 75 more than one week ago, and COVID patients make up 4.4% of total hospital beds in the state.
Over the last week, an average of 280,075 doses have been administered each day in the state. As of April 14th, 21.1% of Texans have been fully vaccinated.
House Passes Bill To Allow Guns To Be Carried Without a License
After six hours of debate, the House on Thursday passed HB 1927, which eliminates the requirement that Texans have to obtain a license to carry a handgun. Guns rights advocates have pushed the measure for years, and allows anyone not otherwise prohibited from carrying a weapon to legally do so. The measure passed largely along partisan lines, 84-56, with one Republican and seven Democrats crossing over to support the measure. The fate of the bill in the Senate is unknown. The bill has been filed in several previous session on the Senate side and has never even had a committee hearing, or been allowed on the Senate floor for full debate.
Senate Passes Ban on Transgender Athletes
Despite warnings from the NCAA, the Texas Senate has given approval to SB 29, which bans students from playing sports based on their gender identity. The bill requires students to participate in sports based on their biological sex. The NCAA has stated emphatically that they would not select states for their major sporting events – Final Four, College Football Playoff, etc. – that pass laws discriminating against transgender athletes. Republicans ignored the threat, and the measure passed along party lines 18-13. Texas is currently sheduled to host three upcoming Final Fours, including the women’s Final Four in Dallas in 2023. And, The College Football National Championship game is scheduled to take place in Houston in 2025. All together, those events will have an estimated economic impact of over $1 billion to the state.
Senate Passes Restrictions on Governor’s Powers
Due to repeated complaints of being left out of major decisions during the pandemic, the Senate responded on Thursday by passing a measure that would require lawmakers input during times of disaster. The proposal comes in the form of a constitutional amendment – which has to be approved by the voters – that requires the Governor to call a special session in times of response to major disasters and emergencies such as the COVID pandemic and Hurricane Harvey recovery. Among the highlights of the proposal, the initial executive orders issued by the Governor would expire after 30 days, and the legislature would be called into special session to address the needs of the state and put laws into place specifically addressing the relative emergency situation.
This debate is far from over. The House has passed a version of recovery in response to the pandemic that reaffirms most of the Governor’s powers. Therefore, the two chambers will have to work out their differences if any changes to the current methods of disaster response and recovery are to change.
Bill Requires Voter Approval for Defunding Police
Earlier this week, the Senate passed legislation that would require voter approval for local governments to decrease their law enforcement budgets. Under the bill, cities and/or counties would have to hold an election before reducing the budgets of their relative law enforcement agencies. The measure received broad bipartisan support, passing by a vote of 28-2. Similar proposals have been introduced in the House, and been approved by committees, but have not as of yet been set for debate on the House floor.
There are 44 days remaining in the regular session. The House and Senate will convene at 2PM on Monday.