Case Counts/Testing in Texas – as of Sunday, August 30th (3:05 PM data)
Total Tests Performed — 5,345,631
Confirmed Cases — 610,354 (3,759 new cases)
Active Cases —98,326
Hospitalizations — 4,172 (12,833 available beds, 1,224 available ICU beds)
Fatalities — 12,510 (90 new deaths)
Recovered Cases — 499,518 

Inside the Numbers
Positivity rate as of Saturday, August 29th was 12.24%.  One month ago, there were 8,839 new cases reported, one week ago there were 6,091 new cases reported, compared to the 3,759 reported yesterday.  The 4,172 COVID patients in hospitals now are 1,014 less than one week ago, and COVID patients make up 7.6% of total hospital beds. 

Hurricane Laura Aftermath
President Trump visited areas of Louisiana and Texas that were affected by hurricane Laura last week.  The storm is responsible for 16 deaths and caused an estimated $12 billion in damage.  Earlier in the week, as residents and local leaders of southeast Texas surveyed the aftermath of the storm, there was surprise and gratitude.  The wrath of the storm did significantly more damage east of the Texas border, with Lake Charles and Cameron, Louisiana receiving the most devastation. Areas around Orange, Texas did receive floodwater, downed trees and power lines, and wind damage to buildings, but most areas in the region feel like they got a substantial break from what could have been much more extensive damage and destruction.  Crews continue to work to restore power to the estimated 100,000 that lost power during the storm. 

15 Minute Test Gets Approval
Last week, the FDA gave emergency authorization approval for a rapid COVID test that produce results in 15 minutes.  The device is made by Abbott Laboratories, is about the size of a credit card, and very affordable, costing only $5.  The test can be offered only by medical clinics.  It uses a nasal swab, with results being determined on site, instead of having to ship the materials to a lab for results.  This is the same test that Major League Baseball has been using to test players and staff.  This technology was immediately being offered at health care clinics across the country with the goal of providing 50 million tests a month, and has an accuracy rate of 96%.  The test also has an app available so anyone that has been tested can immediately display their positive test results when asked by places of business, schools, etc… 

Mail In Voting Update
Last week, Harris County announced that it would be sending an application for mail in voting to every one of its nearly 2 million registered voters in the county.  Several other states carried out the same initiative during the primary voting season due to the pandemic.  Texas is one of just 6 states that has not expanded the automatic use of mail in voting to voters that have concerns about contracting COVID by going to a polling place in person.  On Friday, the Texas Secretary of State’s office sent a letter to Harris County directing the county to immediately halt their plan to send out ballots to all registered voters.  The Secretary of State’s office claims that this plan is an abuse of voter rights by local officials, and then threatened legal action if the county did not abandon its course of action.In related action, the state Democratic Party will present oral arguments before the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals to argue that the state is practicing age discrimination by denying mail in ballots to registered voters under the age of 65.  Current Texas law only allows the issuance of a no excuse mail in ballot application to be sent to registered voters aged 65 and over.  Democrats are asking for an expansion of mail in voting to provide a safer alternative to in person voting during the pandemic.  Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton has argued against such an expansion.  Two trial level judges have ruled in the Democrats’ favor so far, only to see courts at the appeals level negate both rulings.