Case Counts/Testing in Texas – Monday, November 30th    (6:10 PM data)

Total Tests Performed – 11,957,918

Confirmed Cases – 1,168,111 (10,699 new cases)

Active Cases – 186,678

Hospitalizations – 8,900 (13,020 available beds, 840 available ICU beds)

Fatalities – 21,379  (22 new deaths)

Recovered Cases – 962,639

Inside the Numbers

Positivity rate as of Sunday, November 29th was 11.33%.  One month ago, there were 5,335 new cases reported, one week ago there were 13,998 new cases reported, compared to the 10,699 reported yesterday.  The 7 day average has decreased by 971 cases.  The 8,900 COVID patients in hospitals now are 547 more than one week ago, and COVID patients make up 14% of total hospital beds in the state.

Hospitalizations, Numbers Increase

The 8,900 COVID patients in hospital beds throughout the state reported yesterday is the highest number reported since August 1st.  Hospitalizations have been steadily rising since September 20th, when the state saw a reported low of 3,081.  The 10,699 cases reported Monday is an increase of over 6,000 cases from Sunday.  Most of the case counts reported from Thursday to Sunday were significantly lower due to the lack of reporting by local health authorities over the holiday weekend.

The peak for new reported cases was last Wednesday, the day before Thanksgiving, when the state reported 14,648 cases.  The previous peak was reached during the summer surge on July 15th, when 10,791 cases were reported.  

Legislative Budget Board Sets Budget Numbers

Legislative budget leaders met yesterday to begin their constitutionally required duty of setting a spending limit for the next two years.  The spending limit gives lawmakers the parameters under which to operate when crafting the state’s two year budget, which has to be done during the upcoming regular session.  What is the most interesting – and very good – news is that the state Comptroller told the group that the state’s fiscal condition is not as dire as originally predicted several months ago when businesses were forced to shut down.  The panel was told that revenue collections have outperformed estimates over the last several months, but do remain below collections as compared to one year ago.  Because the overall tax collections are lower, the legislature is looking at a $4.6 billion deficit in available funds as compared to the current budget cycle.

However, even with the year to year decline, sales tax collections out performed expectations, and are down only 5% as compared to 2019 collections.  That is good news, since sales tax collections make up roughly 50% of the state revenue for the budget.  Hotel, car rental, motor fuels, and energy related tax collections are all down significantly.  The Comptroller informed the panel that he will have his final budget numbers available on January 11th, the day before the session begins.  At that time, lawmakers will have an exact amount they can spend on the next budget.

Work Group on House Rules

No one is completely sure how the Capitol will look next session for visitors and the general public.  The Capitol has a capacity of 6,000 people, and will generally reach that capacity on a busy day of hearings and other legislative activity during the regular session.  Because of the pandemic, the way the legislature conducts its business – normally face to face – will have to be adjusted.  Questions about everything from how public testimony will be taken to how members will vote on the floor will have to be addressed.  Yesterday, presumptive House Speaker Dade Phelan appointed a bipartisan working group to come up with ideas and recommendations to address these and other anticipated issues.  The committee is tasked with coming up with the recommendations that will require a change in the House rules to accomplish the goal of addressing the issues as effectively as possible.  A copy of the letter sent to House members is attached for your review.

Vaccine Ready for Distribution in Coming Days

Over the holiday weekend in a tweet, Gov. Abbott referenced a Wall Street Journal article that reported United Airlines is positioning itself to charter flights to help with the distribution of the Pfizer vaccine to all states.  Abbott’s claim is that Texas is ready to start the distribution in the coming days.  He, along with Health Department officials, say they are structurally ready for quick distribution of the vaccine once it is given final FDA approval.  Many of the state’s hospitals say they have been preparing for receipt of the vaccine, and are expecting delivery no later than mid-December.

The Texas legislative session begins in 42 days.