Case Counts/Testing in Texas – Thursday, February 4th (3:50 PM data)
Total Tests Performed – 20,664,753
Confirmed Cases – 2,132,593 (11,999 new cases)
Active Cases – 354,724
Hospitalizations – 10,523 (10,884 available beds, 713 available ICU beds)
Fatalities – 37,727 (439 new deaths)
Recovered Cases – 2,037,888
Vaccine Data – Thursday, February 4th (12:26 PM data)
Doses Shipped by state – 3,759,950
People with one dose received – 2,136,285
People fully vaccinated – 619,452
Total doses administered – 2,755,737
Inside the Numbers
Positivity rate as of Wednesday, February 3rd was 13.37%. One month ago, there were 26,500 new cases reported, one week ago there were 14,800 new cases reported, compared to the 11,999 reported yesterday. The 7 day average has decreased by 504 cases. The 10,523 COVID patients in hospitals now are 1,968 fewer than one week ago, and COVID patients make up 15.8% of total hospital beds in the state.
Vaccines Coming to Texas Pharmacies
In an effort to ramp up vaccinations, the federal government will ship approximately 1 million doses of vaccines to 6,500 participating retail pharmacies around the country. These allocations will continue to increase as the manufactures increase production. This program will be administered by the Centers for Disease Control and includes distributions to major retailers such as CVS, Walgreens, HEB, Walmart, Costco, Kroger, Albertsons, and other supermarket chains. When fully deployed, the plan is to enlist about 40,000 retail outlets nationwide. The CDC states that the best way to get more information on which retailer will receive doses, is to go to the company’s individual websites and follow their protocols for eligibility and availability.
CVS was the first to confirm that they will be receiving a substantial number of doses of the vaccine, and is planning to offer vaccinations at 70 locations throughout the state, beginning February 11th. Booking for appointments online will begin on February 9th.
Abbott Open to Sharing Power During Emergencies
One of the areas of criticism that Gov. Abbott has endured during the pandemic is his perceived inability to include the members of the Legislature in his issuance of executive orders in response to the spread of the virus and worsening economic conditions. Many members in Abbott’s own party have been very critical of how swiftly Abbott used his executive authority, especially when it comes to business shutdowns and mask mandates. Abbott said in recent interviews that he is open to sharing his powers during an emergency, saying the best way to deal with an emergency situation is to pre-plan, and have the response plan in place when the emergency situation begins. Several members, from both parties, have filed legislation this session that calls for the automatic expiration of executive orders after 30 days, and to direct the Governor to call a special session to seek the input of the Legislature to any state of emergency faced by the state.
Jobs Deficit Grows in State
No question that there are fewer jobs in the state due to the pandemic. Industries hit the hardest are the restaurant and service industries, as well as the travel and hospitality industries. Houston was hit particularly by the oil bust, and cities like Austin and San Antonio were also hit hard due to their dependence on tourism and conventions. To put things in perspective, the DFW region ended 2020 with 81,600 fewer jobs, according to a recently released report from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. Austin had 11,500 fewer jobs, San Antonio lost 37,500 jobs, El Paso was down 14,300. The largest job loss was seen in Houston, which had 141,300 fewer jobs at the end of 2020 as compared to the end of 2019.
Rodeo Houston Canceled
In 2020, the Houston Rodeo was canceled just a few days into the annual event, due to the pandemic. Now, this year’s event has been canceled, Organizers had hoped to postpone the usual March start date until May 4th of this year, but have decided to cancel all together and focus on the 2022 event. Concerns over the pandemic have caused other major rodeo events to be canceled. Rodeo Austin canceled its main events scheduled for March and the San Antonio Stock show is likely to postpone their scheduled start date of February 11th. Junior livestock shows at the Houston Rodeo will still be held as private events, and the Rodeo has pledged more than $14 million to fund over 800 scholarships for the youth competitors. In a related note, Austin’s South by Southwest festival, which annually brings in over 400,000 visitors to the city, has announced that event this year will be entirely virtual. Last year’s event was completely canceled.
House Committee Assignments Announced
Speaker of the House Dade Phelan today released the committee assignments for the session, including the chairs to lead each committee. Of the 34 standing House committees, 21 are Republicans and 13 are Democrats. With a new Speaker comes new committee chairs. High profile areas of debate this session will all have new chairs for their committees of jurisdiction. Dr. Greg Bonnen (R, Friendswood) will chair the budget writing Appropriations Committee. Democrat Harold Dutton (D, Houston) will chair Public Education, a committee that will no doubt see its share of controversy due to the ongoing at home vs. in school learning debate. Baytown Republican Briscoe Cain will chair the Elections committee, which will oversee all elections integrity related legislation. And Arlington Republican Stephanie Kilck will be the new chair of the Public Health committee, which goes without saying will consider its share of pandemic and health related legislation. For the full list of committee appointments, go to https://house.texas.gov