The Latest | April 20th
Case Counts/Testing in Texas – Monday, April 19th (4:35 PM data)
Total Tests Performed – 27,189,276
Confirmed Cases – 2,440,986 (1,073 new cases)
Active Cases – 63,472
Hospitalizations – 2,864 (12,413 available beds, 1,010 available ICU beds)
Fatalities – 48,620 (9 new deaths)
Recovered Cases – 2,705,278
Vaccine Data – Monday, April 19th (2:00 PM data)
Doses Shipped by state – 16,538,260
People with one dose received – 10,140,180
People fully vaccinated – 6,524,433
Total doses administered – 16,053,629
Inside the Numbers
Molecular positivity rate as of Sunday, April 18th was 4.69%. One month ago, there were 2,400 new cases reported, one week ago there were 4,400 new cases reported, compared to the 1,073 reported yesterday. The 2,864 COVID patients in hospitals now are 41 more than one week ago, and COVID patients make up 4.5% of total hospital beds in the state.
Over the last week, an average of 222,294 doses have been administered each day in the state. As of April 18th, 22.5% of Texans have been fully vaccinated.
Feds Rescind Money for Medicaid Agreement
This past Friday the Biden administration chose to rescind changes to the 1115 waiver, a federal funding agreement that would have prolonged Texas’ health care safety net for unisured residents for 10 years. This means a new wave of negotiations will soon begin in apprehension of the expiration of the current waiver in 2022.
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services said in a statement that in the waning days of the Trump administration it erred in exempting Texas from the normal public notice process before granting an extension to the waiver.
The agency said it “has rescinded the extension approval, which corrects this oversight with as little impact as possible to the people of Texas, since the original demonstration remains intact through September 30, 2022.”
The decision to rescind the agreement is understood to be an effort to motivate state officials to accept expansion of the Affordable Care Act’s Medicaid. If Texas were to make the expansion more low-income residents would be covered in the state which has more uninsured people than any other state. Texas is one of only 12 that have not expanded the program.
McConaughey May Be a Viable Candidate for Governor
According to a poll released Sunday by The Dallas Morning News and the University of Texas at Tyler, the well-known actor, Matthew McConaughey, has more support to be Texas’ next governor than incumbent Greg Abbott.
For months, McConaughey has baited political pundits and TV talk show hosts with musings that he might be considering a run for office in Texas, his home state.
The poll found that 45% of Texas registered voters would vote for McConaughey, 33% would vote for Abbott and 22% would vote for someone else. The poll also found, however, that the actor and political newcomer could face serious obstacles in either major party’s primary if he enters next year’s governor’s race. 56% of Republican voters said they’d vote for Abbott, compared with only 30% for McConaughey. Democrats broke 66% to 8% for McConaughey, and independents 44% to 28%, more than twice as many Democratic primary voters — 51% — said they wanted a progressive candidate for governor than wanted a centrist — 25%.
That could pose a problem. McConaughey, who has criticized both major parties, has suggested he’s more of a moderate.
Senate Needs More Votes to Pass Permitless Carry Bill
On Monday, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick said that the state Senate lacks the votes to pass permitless carry of handguns. He also stated his determination to change that and look for alternative routes to passage.
This news from the Senate comes just days after the House approved a permitless carry bill – referred to as “constitutional carry” by proponents.
“If we have the votes to pass a permitless carry bill off the Senate floor, I will move it,” Patrick stated. “At this point we don’t have the votes on the floor to pass it. I plan to meet with law enforcement who oppose permitless carry and with the [National Rifle Association] and [Gun Owners of America] who support it to see if we can find a path that a majority of senators will vote to pass.”
Usually, Senate bills require 18 votes from the 31-member chamber to be considered on the floor. Considering there are only 18 GOP senators, the permitless-carry bill would need the support of every Republican in the chamber to reach the floor — or at least one Democratic vote if any Republicans defect.
Corporations Express Opposition to Anti-Transgender Bills
The legislation, if passed, would restrict trans-children’s access to healthcare and prevent them from participating in sports.
Amazon, American Airlines, Facebook and IBM Corp. were only a few of the more than 40 employers who expressed their opposition to the bills in a letter released on Monday by Texas Competes, a coalition of Texas businesses in support of a more inclusive Texas.
On Thursday the Texas Senate passed a bill that would force young athletes to compete in sports based upon the sex designated on their birth certificates – echoing the unsuccessful anti-trans bathroom bans attempted some years ago. Both the Texas Senate and House are also considering bills that would restrict transgender children’s access to health care.
“Such legislation would send a message that is at odds with the Texas we know and with our own efforts to attract and retain the best talent and to compete for business,” business leaders said in the letter. “We will continue to oppose any unnecessary, divisive measures that would damage Texas’ reputation and make our customers, our visitors, and our employees and their families feel unwelcome or unsafe.”
There are now 40 days remaining in session. The House convenes at 10am tomorrow and then again at 10am on Thursday to take up the state budget. The Senate convenes at 1pm tomorrow.