Case Counts/Testing in Texas
 – Tuesday, January 12th (3:55 PM data)

Total Tests Performed – 17,273,015

Confirmed Cases – 1,753,059 (22,110 new cases)

Active Cases – 353,654

Hospitalizations – 14,218 (10,915 available beds, 639 available ICU beds)

Fatalities – 30,219 (286 new deaths)

Recovered Cases – 1,595,600

Vaccine Data – Tuesday, January 12th (1:30 PM data)

Doses Shipped by state – 1,574,800

People with one dose received – 764,314

People fully vaccinated – 98,479

Total doses administered – 862,793

Inside the Numbers

Positivity rate as of Monday,  January 11th was 18.39%.  One month ago, there were 8,800 new cases reported, one week ago there were 26,500 new cases reported, compared to the 22,110 reported yesterday.  The 7 day average has increased by  3,536 cases.  The 14,218 COVID patients in hospitals now are 910 more than one week ago, and COVID patients make up 21.8% of total hospital beds in the state.

Session Begins Under Tight Security

The 87th session of the Texas Legislature gaveled in yesterday in a significantly pared down ceremony among much tighter security.  Rep. Dade Phelan, Republican from Beaumont, was elected Speaker of the Texas House by a vote of 143-2.  In the Senate, members selected Senator Brian Birdwell, Republican of Granbury, to be the President Pro Tempore, a largely ceremonial position granted through seniority.  Department of Public Safety officers were in full tactical gear, both inside and outside of the Capitol building.  There was one group made up of a few dozen protestors that rallied outside on the grounds Tuesday afternoon.  This group claimed to be anti-mask and anti-vaccine, were armed, and donned military gear.  No disturbances were reported.

Back inside, the Capitol was basically empty, with most members and staff staying in their offices before and after the brief sessions on the floors.  Over the next two days, members from both chambers will debate the rules under which they will operate this session, with the task of determining how to navigate the pandemic while ensuring the public can be involved in the lawmaking process.  Prior to the convening of the session, the Attorney General issued an opinion saying the Capitol must remain open to the public while the Legislature is in session, but did recognize that “reasonable” limits on the manner of access may be imposed.  The opinion was in response to inquiries from legislators upset with the fact that the Capitol had been completely closed to the public since last April.  

After the rules debates in both chambers today and tomorrow, both the House and Senate will adjourn until Tuesday, January 26th.

Texas Records 30,000 Deaths

The unprecedented surge in new cases, deaths, and hospitalizations continues.  Yesterday, the death count in Texas surpassed 30,000.  No area of the state is immune from the increases.  In Austin, the health authority warned the commissioners court yesterday that area hospitals will reach capacity in ICU units this week.  As of this morning, Austin area hospitals had only 10 available ICU beds, and the city’s convention center – set up as a temporary field hospital – has begun to accept patients.  Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Plano has set up medical tents in its lobby to expand its emergency department.  The eight tents they have set up is to treat non-COVID patients cases that are coming to the hospital.  And in Houston, to try and help with the vaccination process, the Memorial Hermann health system in Houston announced yesterday that they will vaccinate roughly 13,000 people this week at NRG Park.  Anyone older than 65 is eligible, and an appointment is necessary for the process.  

Nationally, approximately 130,000 people are hospitalized with COVID, which is roughly twice the number from two months ago.  In Los Angeles, hospitals have begun to ration oxygen.  The death toll nationally is at a record 3,000 people per day, with the rate projected to be near 4,000 a day before the numbers finally begin to come down.

Pressure on Senator Cruz Grows

Calls for some sort of punishment for Texas Senator Ted Cruz continue.  Lawmakers, editorial boards, opinion leaders, and his own colleagues in the US Senate are calling on everything from resignation, censure, disbarment, and removal from his committee assignments.  One of his Senate colleagues – Democrat Bennie Thompson of Mississippi – has called for Cruz to be placed on the “no fly” list, normally reserved for individuals deemed to be a threat to national security.  Cruz, who has made no secret of his desire to again seek the Republican nomination for President in 2024, has also taken a hit in a recent poll.  In a poll conducted by ABC News, 71% of those polled say they no longer trust Cruz to protect our nation’s democracy.  And on Tuesday, his communications director announced her resignation, saying she was uncomfortable with the Senator’s challenge of the election results.  The Senator continues to stand his ground, telling the ABC affiliate in Houston that he was trying to protect the integrity of the election, and still feels that a commission to audit and study the election results is the right approach to address the allegations of fraud and inconsistencies from the November election.

President Trump Visits South Texas

President Trump made a brief stop outside the city of Alamo on the Texas/Mexico border yesterday to tout his border wall construction initiative and sign a plaque affixed to a stretch of the barrier. It does not appear that any Texas federal or state officials were present to meet him. The visit came as the House poised to impeach him for a second time.  This was the President’s first public appearance since the riots at the US Capitol last week, and likely his last visit to Texas during his Presidency.  Despite sagging public opinion in recent days, Trump was greeted by hundreds of supporters cheering his arrival at the airport in Harlingen.  About 450 miles of wall have been completed along the nearly 2,000 mile border during the Trump administration.  

There are 139 days remaining in the legislative session.