Case Counts/Testing in Texas – Wednesday, July 14th (3:50 PM data)
Confirmed Cases – 2,565,125 (2,154 new cases)
Hospitalizations – 2,436 (10,216 available beds, 803 available ICU beds)
Fatalities – 51,549 (30 new deaths)
Vaccine Data – Wednesday, July 14th (2:00 PM data)
Doses Shipped by state – 21,611,330
People vaccinated – 14,204,405
People fully vaccinated – 12,287,982
Total doses administered – 25,478,726
Inside the Numbers
Positivity rate as of Wednesday, July 14th was 8.62%. One month ago, there were 1,200 new cases reported, one week ago there were 2,900 new cases reported, compared to the 2,154 reported yesterday. The 2,436 COVID patients in hospitals now is 632 more patients compared to one week ago, and COVID patients make up 3.7% of total hospital beds in the state.
Over the last week, an average of 54,103 doses have been administered each day in the state. As of Monday, July 14th, 42.4% of Texans have been fully vaccinated.
Texas Democrats Still in DC
Texas Democrats – 58 House members and 9 Senators – remain defiant in Washington, DC as they are now in their third full day of absence from legislative proceedings. Members from Texas have met with members of Congress and the US Senate, as well as Vice-President Kamala Harris. The Texas members are actively documenting their trip on social media, with pictures of the members with New York Senator Charles Schumer (Senate Majority Leader), Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren, and others. The Democratic members say they are using the platform in DC to further their agenda to support their colleagues in Washington to pass national voting rights legislation.
Yesterday, Texas House Republicans voted in caucus to send law enforcement to DC to try and bring the absent members back to Texas. However, this is largely symbolic, as state law enforcement does not have jurisdiction in DC, or anywhere outside the state. Caucus Chair, Rep. Jim Murphy, said that the vote is to send a message that we want them to come back and address the issues at hand.
Also yesterday, Texas House Speaker Dade Phelan sent a letter to all Democratic members that they should either return or not accept their daily per diem for the special session. Every day that the legislature is in session – regular or special – members receive a $220 per day stipend to help with expenses associated with their travel and stay in Austin.
And today, Speaker Phelan relieved Rep. Joe Moody (D, El Paso) of his duties as Speaker Pro Tem. The position of Speaker Pro Tem is a ceremonial position, and the member is appointed by and serves at the pleasure of the Speaker of the House. The Pro Tem also assumes certain Speaker related duties in the absence of the Speaker and often times presides over House proceedings.
Funding the Exodus
Many different rumors and reports have surfaced regarding the payment of expenses for the journey taken by the state Democrats. One particular donor has surfaced recently as helping fund the trip. Beto O’Rourke, the former El Paso Congressman who challenged and narrowly lost to Senator Ted Cruz in 2018, has made use of his extensive donor base to raise funds for the Democrat members. As of yesterday afternoon, O’Rourke announced that he had raised approximately $525,000 for the endeavor. Country singer Willie Nelson has also donated $5,000. Expenses for the members is estimated to be at roughly $10,000 a day.
As the House lacks a quorum, the Senate continues to meet and pass the legislation that is included in the call of the special session. The Senate has passed seven of the items in the call, including the elections bill, prohibition of transgender athletes participation in school sports, social media penalties, and property tax relief. The House is standing at ease, with the call on the House still pending. Republican members are asked to stay close to the Capitol in case some or all of the Democrats decide to come back.
COVID Cases on the Rise
Fueled by the Delta variant, reports of coronavirus cases are once again rising throughout the country. The good news is, with half of the country fully vaccinated, cases and hospitalizations are at a fraction of their peak during the early portions of the pandemic. New cases have averaged at about 26,000 a day nationwide over the last two weeks, as opposed to an average of over 250,000 a day during the height of the pandemic. The bad news is that infections are rising in almost every state. Cases have risen by at least 15% over the last two weeks in 49 states.
After seeing an increase in case numbers and hospitalizations over the last two weeks, city of Austin officials announced today that they have raised the city back to Stage 3 status. Austin is the first major city in the state to reinstate pandemic protocols. This stage calls for the end to nonessential travel and asks residents to resume mask wearing and social distance precautions. This time, the protocols apply only unvaccinated residents. However, this move is nothing more than symbolic, since the state has banned local pandemic mandates.
As of today, we are one week into the first called special session. The session is scheduled to end on August 7th. With the exodus of the Democrats, the House stands at ease, with a call on the House to reinstitute a quorum. The Senate is in recess until 11AM tomorrow.