Case Counts/Testing in Texas – Thursday, April 22nd (4:40 PM data)
Total Tests Performed – 27,357,774
Confirmed Cases – 2,451,130 (2,195 new cases)
Active Cases – 64,950
Hospitalizations – 2,935 (11,112 available beds, 883 available ICU beds)
Fatalities – 48,828 (69 new deaths)
Recovered Cases – 2,714,350
Vaccine Data – Thursday, April 22nd (1:45 PM data)
Doses Shipped by state – 17,603,480
People with one dose received – 10,372,271
People fully vaccinated – 6,845,893
Total doses administered – 16,601,459
Inside the Numbers
Positivity rate as of Wednesday, April 21st was 5.6%. One month ago, there were 3,200 new cases reported, one week ago there were 2,300 new cases reported, compared to the 2,195 reported yesterday. The 2,935 COVID patients in hospitals now is roughly the same number of patients compared to one week ago, and COVID patients make up 4.5% of total hospital beds in the state.
Over the last week, an average of 196,020 doses have been administered each day in the state. As of April 21st, 23.6% of Texans have been fully vaccinated.
House Passes State Budget
Late last night, after nearly 12 hours of debate and consideration of over 200 proposed amendments, the Texas House passed their version of the state budget. The total two year budget of $247 billion includes fully funding many of the priorites for public education established last session during the massive school finance overhaul, and also includes $800 million for border security. Not included was a proposed expansion of Medicaid to include more uninsured Texans. An amendment to expand Medicaid was defeated by a vote of 80-68, after a very lengthy but respectful debate. The budget also bans funding for school vouchers and caps the spending of the Attorney General, addressing the exceptionally high number of lawsuits the AG Paxton chooses to become involved on the state’s behalf.
A major issue also not included in the budget is the federal stimulus/COVID relief funds. The federal government has already approved nearly $35 billion in relief funds for the state for COVID relief and for public schools. House members warned their colleagues that giving total control of the spending of the federal funds by Gov Abbott is a dangerous, and that appropriations are to be spent by the Legislature. In response, an amendment to the bill last night was unanimously adopted by the House that would require that none of the federal relief dollars be spent without approval of the Legislature. The amendment even directs the Governor to call a special session to allow the Legislature to meet and determine the way to spend the money. The budget was unanimously approved by the House and it will now go to a conference committee where members of the House and Senate will work out their differences and create a final product.
Vaccine Supply Exceeds Demand
With the vaccinees now more and more readily available, there is enough supply to allow at least two of the state’s major metropolitan areas to offer the vaccine without having to make an appointment in advance. Anyone in the state that is 16 or over is now eligible for the vaccine. Houston and Harris County are offering free, walk-up administration of the vaccine at NRG Park from noon to 9PM daily. St. Luke’s Health is also offering walk-ins at Texas Southern University. The city of Austin/Travis County is offering vaccinations this weekend at two locations with no appointment necessary at the Delco Activity Center and at the Circuit of the Americas race track.
Immigration Crisis Continues
The number of immigrants apprehended at the border is the highest it has been in the last 20 years. According to Customs Border Patrol (CBP) data, the number of apprehensions at the border jumped from 96,674 in February to 168,195 in March. The single month increase has not been that drastic since March of 2001. CBP also reports that the number of those apprehended with criminal records has increased as well. So far this year, 5,018 apprehended have criminal records, while the total number of those with records last year was 2,438. An increasing problem according to CBP agents is that the people apprehended are crossing in large numbers. Groups of 100 or more attempting to cross together at one time are becoming more and more common, and agents say this significantly increases time for intake and transfer to facilities. Agents in the Rio Grande Valley earlier this week reported three separate groups that had combined at the time of crossing totaled 320 migrants, including 86 unaccompanied children.
Texas Senate Update
In a very interesting development, the Texas Senate passed a bill this week to allow college athletes to be paid for the use of their name or likeness if used by an outside party for video games or the promotion of products. The bill does not allow college athletes to be paid for participating in their respective sport. The bill also allows college athletes to hire an agent to promote their stature.
The Senate has also ramped up consideration of the permitless carry of weapons bill. After passing the House last week, the Lt. Governor declared earlier this week that there were not enough votes to pass the bill that eliminates the requirement to carry a handgun. Earlier today, the Senate filed new legislation to address the issue and immediately referred the bill to a special committee for consideration. This legislation is a top priority for the Republican base, and this move signals that the Senate may be moving towards a more favorable consideration of the topic.
There are 38 days remaining in the regular session. The House will convene at 10AM on Monday and Senate will convene at 4PM on Monday.