Case Counts/Testing in Texas – Wednesday, January 27th (10:30 PM data)
Total Tests Performed – 19,448,730
Confirmed Cases – 2,003,135 (14,731 new cases)
Active Cases – 373,639
Hospitalizations – 12,795 (10,392 available beds, 637 available ICU beds)
Fatalities – 35,168 (467 new deaths)
Recovered Cases – 1,867,288
Vaccine Data – Wednesday, January 27th (1:29 PM data)
Doses Shipped by state – 3,012,350
People with one dose received – 1,603,193
People fully vaccinated – 320,310
Total doses administered – 1,923,503
Inside the Numbers
Positivity rate as of Tuesday, January 26th was 14.87%. One month ago, there were 27,000 new cases reported, one week ago there were 18,400 new cases reported, compared to the 14,731 reported yesterday. The 7 day average has decreased by 3,006 cases. The 12,795 COVID patients in hospitals now are 1,075 fewer than one week ago, and COVID patients make up 18.8% of total hospital beds in the state.
State Numbers Continue to Improve as Landmarks Reached
Many health care officials are optimistic that the “holiday surge” is starting to subside. The rolling 7 day averages for new cases and hospitalizations are coming down, and the positive infection rate is also consistently on the decrease. However, the overall toll of the pandemic has led the state to reach two landmark numbers. On Wednesday, the state surpassed 2 million confirmed cases. It took the state 8 months to reach 1 million deaths, but just over 9 weeks to reach the 2 million mark. Along with the 2 million case milestone, the state also recorded deaths in excess of 35,000 due to the virus.
Update on Vaccine Rollout
To help with the administration of the vaccine, the Texas National Guard will begin today to deploy its members to rural areas of the state to administer the vaccine to eligible residents. This new program aims to help homebound Texans, those 65 or over, and in other communities of need in these rural areas, that are historically underserved medically and have been severely impacted by the virus. Many of the rural counties have far lower vaccination rates, and some do not have hospitals. Having a mobile unit come into these communities is the only way that some of these areas will get the vaccine. The first counties to be visited by the National Guard units are Starr, DeWitt, Real, Sherman, and Marion Counties. The Department of Emergency Management will work with local officials in rural counties throughout the state to schedule future deployments to the areas in need.
Delay in Census Numbers
The US Census Bureau has once again pushed back the release date of the 2020 census results. The bureau revealed yesterday that the first set of overall population numbers – originally scheduled to be reported to the states on December 31st – will not be reported until April 30th. More detailed numbers and analysis of the results – the information needed by lawmakers to redraw legislative and Congressional districts – will now not be available until at least July 30th. Lawmakers in the past have received those numbers in February.
Lawmakers are charged every 10 years with redrawing new state House, state Senate, and Congressional districts, based on the information received from the new Census. Since the current legislative session ends on May 31st, the legislature will now have to convene in special session sometime after the receipt of the final numbers to conduct their redistricting process. If the legislature cannot or does not act in some way, then the issue will be decided by the courts. There is also some question as to whether or not legislative districts can be drawn in a special session since the state constitution states that those districts must be drawn in the regular session after receiving the census numbers.
Redistricting, Finance Committees Begin Meetings
Texas will post huge population gains from 2010, with estimates stating that the state has grown by more than 4 million people. The growth is concentrated in the urban and suburban areas of the state. After getting the final numbers from the Census Bureau, the legislature must draw the districts that are roughly equal in population. That means rural areas of the state will likely lose seats and suburban areas will gain more seats. Also, if estimates hold correct, the state of Texas is in line to receive three new Congressional seats, due not only to our population gain, but also due to loss in population in other states such as California.
The Texas Senate this week began with initial hearings on the subject, and the committee is receiving public input. The House has not named their committees yet, so their hearings cannot begin until committees are named. In the first hearing yesterday, Redistricting Committee members were told that the target size for a newly drawn Senate district will be somewhere between 945,000 and 958,000. The target population for a Senate district after the 2010 census was 811,000. Each hearing scheduled for the next several weeks will concentrate on a particular region of the state. For a list of all hearings posted go to: https://senate.texas.gov/cmtes/87/c625/Regional-Hearing-Schedule-2021.pdf
The Senate Finance Committee has also begun their hearings, and all hearings scheduled so far will focus on state agency presentations in response to the recently filed state budget. For a full list of Finance Committee hearings, along with agencies scheduled to appear, go to: https://capitol.texas.gov/Committees/MeetingsByCmte.aspx?Leg=87&Chamber=S&CmteCode=C540
There are 121 days remaining in the regular session. The House is adjourned until 2:00PM on Tuesday, February 9th, and the Senate is adjourned until 3:00PM on Tuesday, February 9th .