Case Counts/Testing in Texas – Wednesday, December 9th (4:55 PM data)
Total Tests Performed – 13,021,946
Confirmed Cases – 1,283,674 (10,930 new cases)
Active Cases – 202,457
Hospitalizations – 9,053 (11,243 available beds, 675 available ICU beds)
Fatalities – 23,081 (273 new deaths)
Recovered Cases – 1,062,398
Inside the Numbers
Positivity rate as of Tuesday, December 8th was 12.82%. One month ago, there were 10,605 new cases reported, one week ago there were 13,857 new cases reported, compared to the 10,930 reported yesterday. The 7 day average has increased by 2,433 cases. The 9,053 COVID patients in hospitals now are 56 fewer than one week ago, and COVID patients make up 13.9% of total hospital beds in the state.
Tuesday, for the second time in a week, the state reported over 15,000 new cases. In this most recent surge, daily case counts have frequently hit the 10,000 mark. The 23,000 COVID related deaths is now 2nd in the nation, and the rolling average of new cases over the last two weeks has increased by 17%. One in every 309 people tested in Texas is now testing positive.
Texas Announces Providers of Vaccine
Texas now has over 7,200 providers signed up and approved to administer the vaccines once they become available. As you are aware, the FDA Advisory panel is meeting today in Washington to approve the Pfizer vaccine. If all goes well, then the state could start receiving doses next week. At a White House summit yesterday with Governors from several other states, Gov. Abbott said the state will be ready to start administering the vaccine within 24 hours of receiving the vaccine. He said the state has already run server mock distributions in advance to work out any issues.
The first round will consist on 224,250 doses of the Pfizer vaccine going to 109 hospitals in 34 counties in Texas, as early as Monday. For information on where the vaccines will be available near you, when you are eligible, and any other information regarding the vaccine, visit https://www.dshs.texas.gov/coronavirus/immunize/vaccine.aspx
Rapid Testing Program for Small Businesses
The Texas Department of Emergency Management has launched a pilot program to begin testing for front line workers in small businesses is certain parts of the state. The intent is for employers to be able to test employees to try and mitigate the spread of the virus. The program will give local Chamber of Commerce organizations the testing supplies to distribute to local businesses that want to participate, giving the businesses the opportunity to provide some extra protection and comfort to their customers and employees. The first organizations chosen to participate are in the most hard hit areas of the Rio Grande Valley, El Paso, Lubbock, Amarillo, and Laredo. The intent is for rapid expansion of the program. Any business wanting to participate is asked to call their local Chamber of Commerce organization.
Paxton Contests Presidential Election Results
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton has filed suit directly with the US Supreme Court challenging the election results in the states of Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin. Four states that Trump won in 2016 but were won by President-Elect Biden this year.
The lawsuit claims that pandemic related changes to election procedures in these states violated federal law, and asks the Supreme Court to block these states from voting in the Electoral College. The lawsuit claims that the changes made this year allowed and encouraged voter fraud. The Court has set a deadline of today for the four states to respond to the allegations. The deadline for states to appoint their presidential electors is this Monday, December 14th. Attorneys General from 17 other states have signed onto an amicus brief supporting the suit, and President Trump and his legal team have intervened as well. President Trump has asked Texas Senator Ted Cruz to argue his side of the case before the Supreme Court, if the Justices decide to hear the case. Cruz has agreed to argue the case.
News from the Legislature
Here are some miscellaneous tidbits from the last few days in and around the Capitol community.
Many of the newly elected members have been in town recently for their freshman orientation. There will be 16 new House members and 2 new Senators. In the process, the members draw for seniority, pick their office space and desk location of the floor, and conduct interviews for the hiring of staff members.
Saturday represents the deadline for members to accept campaign contributions prior to the beginning of session. Members cannot receive contributions 30 days prior to, during, or 20 days after the regular legislative session. Because of the deadline, most members have had fundraising events to replenish their campaign accounts prior to session. Some events have been virtual, but most have been in person. By some counts, at least 125 of the 181 members have had some sort of event to raise funds since the election.
We don’t seem to be any closer to knowing how the Capitol access will look for the session. The House and the Senate are moving in different directions. Lt. Governor Patrick has announced some fairly restrictive protocols for the upcoming session due to COVID. He has said he wants committee and floor activity substantially reduced, and has called for testing and very limited participation by the public wanting to enter the Capitol. The House on the other hand is struggling with balancing the need for public participation and the need to keep everyone involved in the process as safe as possible. The House side has appointed two committees to look at the possibilities and report back to the full membership, as early as next week. But, there is greater sentiment on the House side to allow much more public access and involvement in the process.
The Texas legislative session begins in 33 days.