Case Counts/Testing in Texas   Tuesday, August 25th (4:05 PM data)
Total Tests Performed — 5,135,385
Confirmed Cases — 586,730 (6,091 new cases)
Active Cases —108,604
Hospitalizations — 4,907 (13,037 available beds, 1,355 available ICU beds)
Fatalities — 11,576 (181 new deaths)
Recovered Cases — 466,550 

Inside the Numbers
Positivity rate as of Monday, August 24th was 15.42%.  One month ago, there were 8,112 new cases reported, one week ago there were 7,282 new cases reported, compared to the 6,901 reported yesterday.  For the first time since June 25th, there are less than 5,000 COVID patients in hospitals and the 4,907 currently in hospitals is 1,303 less than one week ago, and COVID patients make up 9% of total hospital beds.  

Hurricane Laura to Impact Texas
Hurricane Laura is now a category 4 Hurricane, packing winds of 140 MPH, and is still tracking towards the Texas/Louisiana border.  There are now 59 counties in Texas that have been declared disaster areas in advance of the impact.  In addition to mandatory evacuation orders in most counties in the coastal areas and southeast region of Texas, the Mayors of Galveston and Port Arthur have issued mandatory evacuation for all of its residents as well.  Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo has issued a voluntary evacuation alert for residents in low lying areas of the county such as Clear Lake, Naussau Bay, Shoreacres, and Taylor Lake Village.  In addition, Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner has ordered all drivers off the road by 8PM tonight. As the storm strengthens, state and local officials warn that the category 4 storm could be catastrophic.  In addition to winds potentially reaching 140 MPH and storm surges near 15-20 feet, major flooding is expected in coastal areas and throughout deep east Texas.  In all, more than 750,000 people across Texas and Louisiana are under mandatory evacuation orders. The cities of Austin, Mesquite, Ennis, and San Antonio have been established as staging areas for evacuation shelters, with the state now providing transportation from the coastal and southeast Texas areas to the shelters in those cities.  For all information on areas under evacuation orders, as well as information on available shelters, go to: of the noon advisory, Laura had sustained winds of 140 MPH and was positioned 200 miles south/southeast of Lake Charles, La moving northwest at 16 MPH.  Landfall is expected sometime after midnight tonight near Cameron, La, near the Texas border. 

Alcoholic Beverage Commission Eases Rules to Allow More Bars to Open as Restaurants
In an emergency meeting yesterday, the TABC approved rules to allow bars, that have been closed for months, to reopen as restaurants.  Previous Executive Orders by Gov. Abbott had declared that no establishment that derives more than 51% of its revenue from alcohol sales may open.  The order was recently revised to say that any establishment that prepared and served food on premise was exempt from that requirement.  Yesterday, the TABC waived that requirement and said that establishments may use food trucks or pre packaged food as a component to qualify for food sales.  Any establishment choosing to reopen under these new guidelines must still adhere to the requirements that capacity not exceed 50%, all patrons must be seated, and masks are mandatory.  

Colleges Begin Classes
Several of the state’s major universities have begun their fall semester, most are a mix of virtual and in person instruction.  The University of Texas began classes today, and to manage expectations, University President Jay Hartzell sent out a campus wide email that warned of large clusters of COVID infections.  So, the university will carry out thousands of tests every week to try and determine how widespread the problem will become.  The University will limit in person activity, require face masks on campus, and have a goal of testing 5,000 people a week with the hope that the university can continue to function with at least some in person instruction.  

As UT officials prepare for a worst case scenario, city of Austin health officials are recommending that the city ease some restrictions due to the fact that the number of new infections has reached a plateau in recent weeks.  Heath officials recommend leaving the mask requirement in place, but say that nonessential travel, as well as shopping and dining are now acceptable for people that are considered low risk.In another example of the dire economic toll the pandemic has taken, American Airlines announced a massive reduction in the company’s workforce.  The Fort Worth based carrier announced Tuesday that at least 40,000 workers will have lost their jobs by October 1st.  This represents 30% of the company’s employees.  About 17,000 of these departures are voluntary, while the other 23,000 workers affected were either furloughed, laid off, or forced to take involuntary leave.