Case Counts/Testing in Texas – Monday, February 1st (1:40 PM data)
Total Tests Performed – 20,247,888
Confirmed Cases – 2,087,170 (11,885 new cases)
Active Cases – 364,238
Hospitalizations – 11,074 (11,766 available beds, 735 available ICU beds)
Fatalities – 36,539 (48 new deaths)
Recovered Cases – 1,974,572
Vaccine Data – Monday, February 1st (3:36 PM data)
Doses Shipped by state – 3,637,500
People with one dose received – 1,947,164
People fully vaccinated – 499,436
Total doses administered – 2,446,600
Inside the Numbers
Positivity rate as of Sunday, January 31st was 13.43%. One month ago, there were 14,500 new cases reported, one week ago there were 21,800 new cases reported, compared to the 11,885 reported yesterday. The 7 day average has increased by 907 cases. The 11,074 COVID patients in hospitals now are 1,711 fewer than one week ago, and COVID patients make up 16.7 % of total hospital beds in the state.
Vaccine Shipment on the Way to Texas
Texas is in line to receive over half a million doses of vaccines this week. The 520,425 doses will be sent to 344 providers in 166 counties across the state. The priority recipients remain the same, which are health care workers, residents of long term care facilities, people 65 and over, and those with chronic health conditions. Even with the new shipment coming this week, Texas remains a long way from where we need to be to attain “herd immunity”, which health experts say is what is needed to return to normal life. To reach this status, many health care experts say we need to have at least 70% of our population immunized, which is equal to roughly 22 million Texans.
Even though Texas has received the 2nd highest number of overall doses of vaccines from the federal government, we rank 49th out of the 50 states in per capita doses. The reason is that the distribution to states is based on the adult population, and over 25% of the Texas population is under the age of 18.
O’Rourke Considering Challenge to Abbott
Even though the 2022 gubernatorial election is nearly two years away, former Democratic Congressman, Senate candidate, and Presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke said last week he was considering a challenge to incumbent Governor Greg Abbott. During an interview with an El Paso radio station last week, O’Rourke said he was giving serious consideration to a race for Governor, and followed up the interview with a series of tweets expanding upon his thoughts. When asked about this challenge, Gov. Abbott proclaimed that O’Rourke’s record of supporting the confiscation of guns, open borders, and an aggressive agenda to decrease a reliance on fossil fuels would not sell well with voters in Texas. O’Rourke snapped back, claiming Abbott has provided failed leadership during the pandemic, restricted access to health care for many Texans, and failed to protect the working class by not allowing a rise in the minimum wage.
All statewide officials – Governor, Lt. Governor, Comptroller, Attorney General, etc… — are up for reelection in 2022. Abbott has already declared he will seek a third term as Governor. He has easily won his first two elections for Governor, and has a campaign war chest, as of the end of the year, of nearly $40 million. O’Rourke, arguably the state’s highest profile Democrat, was a three term Congressman from El Paso, and was the Democratic nominee challenging Senator Ted Cruz in 2018. O’Rourke raised $80 million for that race and came within 2.5 points of defeating Cruz. He entered the 2020 race for President, but bowed out before the primary season began.
Pushback on President Biden’s Energy Agenda
Elected members from both political parties have pushed back hard on the energy sector initiatives set forth by President Biden in his newly issued Executive Orders. The President has called for a moratorium on drilling and exploration on federal lands, and canceled any pending permits for the Keystone Pipeline, slated to come to the Texas gulf coast refineries, bringing along thousands of jobs. Last week, Gov. Abbott issued an Executive Order directing all state agencies to challenge all federal orders that could impact the energy industry in Texas. In concert with Abbott’s actions, four Democratic Congressman from Texas also wrote to President Biden asking him to rescind his orders, saying that now is not the time to jeopardize jobs in a state that is heavily dependent on the oil and gas industry.
Abbott Gives State of the State Address
Due to the pandemic, the state of the state address was given at a private business in Lockhart last night, as opposed to the usual joint session of the Texas Legislature. Speaking from a fiber technology plant, Gov. Abbott laid out his priorities for the session and designated five emergency items, meaning the Legislature may consider these subject matters prior to the constitutional prohibition of consideration of legislation during the first 60 days of the session. However, the Legislature rarely takes up for consideration the emergency items during the first 60 days.
The subjects that were given this designation by Abbott are expanding broadband access, punishing local governments that defund law enforcement, election integrity, changing the bail system, and providing liability protection for businesses that have opened during the pandemic. Abbott also called on lawmakers to designate Texas as a 2ndamendment sanctuary state, expand telemedicine, and punish governments at any level that placed restrictions on religious services during the pandemic. These last three areas were not designated as emergency items.
In response, the Democrats accused Abbott of failing the state during the pandemic, blaming him for a poor response to the overall pandemic. Their response was then focused on expanding Medicaid to provide greater health care coverage, and expand access to health care for all Texans.