Case Counts/Testing in Texas – Sunday, December 6th  (3:10 PM data)

Total Tests Performed – 12,708,955

Confirmed Cases – 1,249,323 (8,436 new cases)

Active Cases – 199,275

Hospitalizations – 8,681 (12,673 available beds, 790 available ICU beds)

Fatalities – 22,594  (92 new deaths)

Recovered Cases – 1,030,716

Inside the Numbers

Positivity rate as of Saturday, December 5th  was 13.4%.  One month ago, there were 7,677 new cases reported, one week ago there were 15,182 new cases reported, compared to the 8,436 reported yesterday.  The 7 day average has increased by 3,971 cases.  The 8,681 COVID patients in hospitals now are 47 more than one week ago, and COVID patients make up 13.1% of total hospital beds in the state.

More Numbers

Some good news, the number of Texans hospitalized has decreased for the first time since this most recent surge began.  On Saturday, and again on Sunday, fewer than 9,000 people were reported as hospitalized, down from the 9,015 reported on Friday.  However, the state’s rolling 7 day average has risen from 9,673 on November 20th to 11,681 on Friday.  Also rising are the positivity rates, which is now at 13.4% and the average daily deaths, which now stands at 149.  According to a release yesterday by the Governor’s office, the state has deployed more than 7,500 medical personnel to assist local hospitals with critical staffing shortages.

Nationally, the country added over 1,000,000 new cases in a 5 day period from last Tuesday to Saturday.  We have now reached more than 14.5 million cases and 280,000 deaths nationwide.  A daily high of over 228,000 new confirmed cases was reached on Friday.

Dallas County Places More Restrictions

The entire county is edging back towards lockdown mode.  On Friday, Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins said that the new restrictions are necessary due to the fact that COVID patients have taken up more than 15% of Dallas area hospital beds for seven straight days.  The new restrictions include suspending elective surgeries, reducing capacity of retail stores, restaurants, and gyms, and closing all bars.  The restrictions will stay in place until the county falls below the 15% threshold for hospitals for a seven day period.

Texas Senate Protocols Announced

Much of the discussions around the Capitol bubble has centered around public access during the upcoming session.  Over the weekend, Lt. Governor Dan Patrick announced several proposed restrictions that will be in place when the session begins in January.  For opening day – usually filled with pomp and circumstance – each member will be allowed to have only one guest, all of whom will have to be tested before being granted entry.  Floor activities during the session will be scaled down significantly, with none of the recognitions and resolutions that are common for various groups and those being recognized for worthy accomplishments.  Patrick also said that the legislative load will be diminished significantly, due to the desire to remain off of the Senate floor as much as possible.  And finally, and perhaps most interestingly, anyone wishing to testify before a Senate committee will have to register at least 3 days in advance and submit to testing prior to entering the Capitol. Under normal conditions, the public is allowed to sign up and testify the day of or even during a committee hearing.

Abbott Renews Call for State Policing in Austin

Governor Abbott has again called for the state to be in charge of policing in the Austin area.  This is in response to the recent vote by the Austin City Council to significantly reduce funding for the police department.  Abbott says that due to the large number of visitors that come to Austin from throughout the state to visit their Capitol, we must ensure everyone’s safety.  He is proposing a Capitol zone surrounding the Capitol area and the UT campus where the state would be in charge of patrols and policing.  The proposed area would be from First Street, south of the Capitol, up to 32nd street, north of campus.  From east to west, the area is proposed to cover from I-35 to MoPac.  This would cover all of downtown, UT campus, and all state buildings in the area.

Sun Bowl Canceled

The Sun Bowl, played annually in El Paso every year since 1936, has been canceled this year.  The game is generally played on or around New Year’s Eve, and is the longest running bowl game in Texas, and second longest in the country behind the Rose Bowl.  Due to the pandemic, the Sun Bowl committee last week made the difficult decision to cancel this year’s game.  The committee cites the obvious reasons of the increasing infections and hospitals at or near capacity in the area, and the need to promote safety and well-being of the area residents as the impetus for their decision.  The game brings in $12 to $15 million into the El Paso economy annually, and is now scheduled to be played in 2021.

The Texas legislative session begins in 36 days.