Case Counts/Testing in Texas – Thursday, January 7th (3:30 PM data)
Total Tests Performed – 16,566,000
Confirmed Cases – 1,666,487 (19,598 new cases)
Active Cases – 326,600
Hospitalizations – 13,784 (10,256 available beds, 552 available ICU beds)
Fatalities – 28,938 (393 new deaths)
Recovered Cases – 1,522,105
Vaccine Data – Thursday, January 7th (3:40 PM data)
Doses Shipped by state – 1,362,860
People with one dose received – 527,533
People fully vaccinated – 13,979
Total doses administered – 541,512
Inside the Numbers
Positivity rate as of Wednesday, January 6th was 20.68%. One month ago, there were 15,100 new cases reported, one week ago there were 17,500 new cases reported, compared to the 19,598 reported yesterday. The 7 day average has increased by 4,795 cases. The 13,784 COVID patients in hospitals now are 1,516 more than one week ago, and COVID patients make up 20.6% of total hospital beds in the state.
Vaccines Ramping Up Next Week
The Department of Health Services announed Thursday that they will begin shipping vaccines to larger vaccination “hubs” that are capable of immunizing 100,000 people or more at a single location. This will clear the way for large facilities or complexes — such as Fair Park in Dallas or Minute Maid Park in Houston – to serve as central locations for administration of the vaccines. Vaccine hubs will be published on the DSHS website on Friday. Here is a link to the website with all information related to the state vaccine plan: https://www.dshs.texas.gov/coronavirus/immunize/vaccine.aspx
The website also publishes an updated list of all providers that have received doses. The state will call on the providers to continue to prioritize health care workers, and then expand to those over the age of 65 and people with medical conditions that are at higher risk if infected with the virus. The task force at the Department that is overseeing the vaccine distribution plan, and that will eventually determine who will be prioritized in the next phase of vaccinations, will meet in Austin today to receive updates on the vaccination plan.
Also on Thursday, 38 members of the Texas House sent a letter to Governor Abbott requesting more clarity on the vaccine distribution process. The members say in the letter that they are all receiving a multitude of calls from constituents that are getting confusing and conflicting information from their health care providers, and are asking the Governor to provide more information regarding the eligibility, timing, and availability of the vaccines. As of this morning, Abbott had not given a response to the lawmakers.
First Case of New Strain of Virus
The first known case of the new strain of the virus has been reported in Texas. According to the state health department, the case was reported in Harris County, in a male with no history of travel out of the state or country. This particular strain was first identified in the United Kingdom, and has also been reported here in the US in California and Colorado. The strain is said to be as much as 70% more contagious. Because the man in Harris County has not traveled outside the county, officials there are concerned that the new strain is already spreading there.
Austin to Set Up Temporary Hospital at Convention Center
The Austin-Travis County heatlh authority has projected that local ICU beds will reach capacity some time next week. To avoid having to turn away patients, local leaders are planning to transform the Austin Convention Center into a COVID treatment center. The city did this once before during the surge in July, when the center was set up with 1,500 beds. Travis County has experienced a significant surge lately, and reports 5,101 active cases. 663 new cases were reported on Wednesday, with 89 new hospitalizations. Current hospitalizations in the Austin area are up 160% since early December.
The problem is certainly not isolated to Austin. Reports have hospitals in north Texas holding patients intended for longer term care in emergency rooms because there are no ICU or other beds available. According to a physician at the University of North Texas Health Science Center, some patients are being treated in the lobbies and hallways of area hospitals, while other facilities are discharging patients due to lack of beds. Statewide, more than a dozen of the Trauma Service areas have surpassed the 15% marker of high hospitalizations that require businesses to scale back capacity and trigger stricter requirements in local areas such as the closing of bars.
Texas Elected Officials Condemn Capitol Rioters
Most Democratic Congressmen and several Republican Congressmen from Texas finally found some common ground yesterday when they condemned the riots at the nation’s Capitol. While Republicans have been divided over whether or not to challenge the results of the Presidential election, many Republicans spoke out with stong criticism of the riots held on Wednesday. Congressmen Chip Roy, Michael McCaul, John Carter – all Republicans – issued strong rebukes of the riots.
Texas Senator Ted Cruz led the effort in the US Senate to challenge the results of the Electoral College, and is facing fierce criticism over his position and accusations that he helped to encourage the actions of the rioters that stormed the Capitol on Wednesday. Cruz also sent out a fundraising text messages to supporters on Wednesday morning, citing his position on challenging the election results as a reason to support him financially. Many Democrats, including the state Democratic Party, have called on Cruz to resign. Cruz has said through his Twitter account that he has no intention of resigning.
The Texas Legislature convenes in Regular Session on Tuesday.