Case Counts – Sunday, February 6th (1:55 PM data)
Confirmed Cases – 5,298,076 (14,755 new cases)
Hospitalizations – 10,103 (8,010 available beds, 423 available adult ICU beds)
Fatalities – 79,412 (43 new deaths)
Inside the Numbers
Positivity rate as of Saturday, February 5th was 21.94% (down slightly). One month ago, there were 44,900 new cases reported, one week ago there were 34,600 new cases reported, compared to the 14,755 reported yesterday. The 10,103 COVID patients in hospitals now is 2,289 FEWER patients compared to one week ago, and COVID patients make up 16.2% of total hospital beds in the state.
As of Saturday, February 5th, 20.1 million Texans, or 69% of the population have received at least one dose of the vaccine. 17 million people in the state are fully vaccinated, which is 58.3% of the state. So far, 6 million, or 20.6% of the state have gotten a booster shot. Including booster shots, a total of 41.8 million doses of the vaccine have been administered.
Grid Holds Up During Freeze
The state came out of the severe, two day long cold snap with few local outages, that appeared to have nothing to do with the grid, but with ice buildup on electrical lines. The state peaked at 69,000 megawatts of demand on Friday morning when temperatures from Amarillo to areas south of Austin were well below freezing. At that time, the state had 86,000 megawatts in storage and was able to meet the demands placed on the grid. While this cold snap could not compare to the 8-day long cold snap of last year, where temperature reached single digits as far south as San Antonio, state leaders can tout a better and more reliable grid that passed this year’s test when about 65% of the state was under a hard freeze for over 48 hours. Winterization efforts have added about 15% to the grid capacity. That, coupled with a more aggressive regulatory scheme to ensure companies are better prepared for extreme weather events are credited with the show of success during this year’s freeze.
After the month of January pushed hospitals in the state to the brink of capacity with the wave of COVID infections due to the Omicron variant, hospitalizations have been steadily decreasing throughout the state. The number of infections and the positivity rate of testing have also seen a decline over the past week, showing that the latest surge is fading and hopefully on the way to full abatement. On January 20th, hospitalizations reached 13,371 patients, which was still short of the 14, 281 that was reached in January of 2021. Testing rates are falling to below 25%, which is well under the 36% that was seen at the beginning of this surge and infections are averaging about 22,000 a day, which is also far below the daily average of nearly 60,000 cases a day that was reached in mid-January.
Governor, Challengers On the Trail
With – believe it or not – only 22 days until primary election day, Gov. Abbott and his challengers are out on the campaign trail. Abbott was in Lubbock on Saturday touting the usual themes of securing the border, enhancing 2nd amendment rights, and bolstering the economy. While in Lubbock, Abbott pledged to create a $1 billion enhancement fund for Texas Tech University. Texas Tech is not part of the Permanent University Fund, which distributes certain tax revenues to the University of Texas System and Texas A&M System. This new fund for Texas Tech would create a similar funding enhancement for the its system institutions.
Former state party chair Allen West hosted a rally over the weekend outside the Governor’s Mansion to criticize Abbott’s handling of the situation at the border. West pledged even more troops and financial support of the border initiatives saying that Abbott has not done enough to protect the state against the influx of migrants into the state. Meanwhile, former state Senator Don Huffines seems to be sticking to the airwaves. He is airing TV commercials throughout the state that also criticizes Abbott as not being responsive enough to the situation at the border. Conservative talk show host and humorist Chad Prather is also a candidate in the Republican primary, but he is not polling above 2% in any polls, and has very little campaign cash on hand to do advertising.
In recent polls, neither West of Huffines seems to have gained much traction. Abbott – needing to get 50% of the vote to avoid a runoff – has been polling safely above that mark. West and Huffines combined are hovering at around 20% in recent polls. Abbott also has a significant financial advantage with over $65 million in his war chest, compared to about $10 million for Huffines and less than $2 million for West.
Attorney General Race Heating Up
Arguably the most hotly contested Republican primary race this year is the for Attorney General. Incumbent Ken Paxton is seeking a third term, but he is dogged by legal and ethical troubles. He is still under indictment for a felony charges related to violation of securities laws, he has been accused of bribery and abuse of office by former agency employees, and he has been the subject of allegations of adultery related to another former agency employee. Yet, with all this, he still leads in the latest round of polling. But, the polling shows that he could be forced into a runoff. However, it remains hard to tell which of his challengers – former Supreme Court Justice Eva Guzman, Congressman Louie Gohmert, or Land Commissioner George P Bush – will be the one to finish second and gain a spot in the runoff. Paxton seems to be hovering somewhere in the 30% range, while all three opponents seem to be hovering the high teens to 20’s. Guzman is raising the most money out of all four candidates, and is up on TV with ads airing throughout the state. Bush and Gohmert have also started limited TV advertising as well. All three are attacking Paxton due to his numerous problems, but none seem to be pulling away from the pack, and there are still a lot of undecided voters in the race. The next three weeks will tell who or if the Republican primary voters will want a change in this office.
AOC to Rally in Texas
Controversial Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio Cortez is coming to San Antonio on February 12th to campaign for two progressive Democrats running for Congress. She will be headlining a get out the vote rally in support of former Austin City Councilman Greg Casar and Jessica Cisneros. Casar is running for a newly created seat that runs from east Austin to downtown San Antonio. Cisneros is challenging incumbent Henry Cuellar, a 20 year incumbent from Laredo. Casar faces state Rep. Eddie Rodriguez in a hotly contested primary while Cisneros is trying to unseat Cuellar for the 2nd consecutive year. She fell 4 points short in 2020, but feels more optimistic this time, as Cuellar is under heavy scrutiny after his home and office were raided by the FBI in late January.
More polls will be released and more political commercials will be on your local stations between now and the March 1st election day. The last day to apply to vote by mail is February 18th. Early voting starts February 14th and lasts until February 25th.