Case Counts/Testing in Texas – Wednesday, July 28th (3:30 PM data)
Confirmed Cases – 2,621,979 (10,086 new cases)
Hospitalizations – 5,292 (9,164 available beds, 617 available ICU beds)
Fatalities – 51,949 (59 new deaths)
Vaccine Data – Wednesday, July 28th (1:30 PM data)
Doses Shipped by state – 21,614,930
People vaccinated – 14,701,061
People fully vaccinated – 12,593,491
Total doses administered – 26,239,692
Inside the Numbers
Positivity rate as of Wednesday, July 28th was 15.48%. One month ago, there were 221 new cases reported, one week ago there were 3,600 new cases reported, compared to the 10,086 reported yesterday. The 5,292 COVID patients in hospitals now is 1,663 more patients compared to one week ago, and COVID patients make up 7.8% of total hospital beds in the state.
Over the last week, an average of 60,769 doses have been administered each day in the state. As of Monday, July 26th 43.4% of Texans have been fully vaccinated.
Special Senate Committee to Study Impacts of Texas Leaving the Big 12
Lt. Governor Dan Patrick announced he has appointed a Senate Select Committee on the Future of College Sports in Texas. The purpose of the committee is to research the potential athletic and economic impact of the University of Texas leaving the Big 12 for the Southeastern Conference on Texas schools and communities. The Committee will be chaired by Sen. Jane Nelson, Republican from Flower Mound.
Texas informed the Big 12 on Monday that it plans to leave the conference. Southeastern Conference schools are voting today, and are expected to unanimously approve the move by Texas and Oklahoma University to the conference. Last year, the Big 12 paid out roughly $37 million to each of its member schools, an amount largely derived from television rights. Without the two large, marquee programs, the remaining Big 12 schools will be unable to match that number. Furthermore, without the other Big 12 schools having the larger universities on their schedules, ticket sales and economic impact from game days will suffer as well. Legislation has been filed to require any state supported school to be given approval from the Legislature to switch conference affiliations during this special session. However, it is not in the call of the special session items under consideration, and Gov. Abbott has given no indication that he will include such a measure for consideration.
The committee will begin meeting on Monday, August 2, 2021.
A full list of committee members can be seen here: https://www.ltgov.texas.gov/2021/07/27/lt-gov-patrick-establishes-select-committee-on-the-future-of-college-sports-in-texas/
Service and Manufacturing Sectors Rise
Despite rising cases and fears of the delta variant, two key areas of the state’s economy are showing a strong recovery for business activity in the state. Measures of the manufacturing and service industries continue to show growth, and the latest surge of COVID has not caused the economy to backslide. Specifically, the areas of retail sales, health care, and professional services are all showing accelerated activity, according to the Federal Reserve in Dallas. Company and industry executives interviewed by the Fed say that while the better numbers are certainly great news, there is a level of uncertainty moving forward. Not only is the latest surge a cause for concern, but also the difficulty in hiring qualified employees, supply chain issues, and inflation are all reasons for worry.
CDC Recommends Masks, Most Entities in Texas Cannot Enforce
The U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention released a statement earlier this week recommending fully vaccinated people should wear a mask indoors in public if you are in an area of substantial or high transmission. In the last several weeks, Texas has become one of those areas. As of July 27, there are 2.6 million confirmed cases in the state. The state has recently reached numbers of infections and hospitalizations not seen since March of this year.
Despite the increasing cases and hospitalizations, Gov. Abbott says he will not be reinstating the statewide mask mandate. Abbott told KPRC-TV in Houston on Tuesday, “There will be no mask mandate imposed, and the reasons for that are very clear. There are so many people who have immunities to COVID, whether it be through the vaccination, whether it be through their own exposure and their recovery from it, which would be acquired immunity.” He followed by saying it would be “inappropriate to require people who already have immunity to wear a mask.”
Jake Ellzey Wins Special Election for Congressional District 6 — In what many consider an upset, Donald Trump-backed Susan Wright lost a runoff election on Tuesday to State Rep. Jake Ellzey of Waxahachie for a Fort Worth area congressional seat. The seat opened up after the unexpected death of U.S. Rep. Ron Wright – Susan Wright’s husband. With all precincts reporting Wednesday morning, Ellzey got 53% of the vote, while Susan Wright, a longtime GOP activist, received 47%, according to unofficial results. In his victory speech, Ellzey said “one of the things that we’ve seen from this campaign is a positive outlook — a Reagan Republican outlook for the future of our country — is what the people of the 6th District really, really want.” Ellzey, who could be sworn in as early as this Friday, will now finish out Ron Wright’s term in the 6th Congressional District, a Republican-leaning district in North Texas.
Ellzey’s departure for Congress will leave a vacancy in his state House seat, which will be filled by a special election sometime this fall. Former state Rep. John Wray, a Republican from Waxahachie, has already announced his intention to run for his old seat. Ryan Pitts, the son of former state Rep. Jim Pitts, has also shown interest in running in the special election.
Trump Endorses Paxton in AG Race – Former President Trump has endorsed Attorney General Ken Paxton for reelection. Paxton faces Land Commissioner George P Bush and former Supreme Court Justice Eva Guzman in the Republican primary.
Rep. James White Receives Hugh Endorsement in Agriculture Race – State Rep. James White has received the endorsement of Texans for Lawsuit Reform in his race for Agriculture Commissioner. White is challenging incumbent Sid Miller in the Republican primary. TLR has a successful track record in endorsements, and has weighed in heavily in many contested legislative and statewide contests over the past several election cycles.
The first called session will end next Friday, August 6th. The House Democrats are still in DC, and the House still lacks a quorum and cannot conduct any business. State Rep. James White has asked for an opinion on the validity of the quorum break. In a letter sent to the state Attorney General, Rep. White asks if lawmakers have the constitutional right to break quorum, and if the state constitution allows for the vacating of seats if members deliberately deny the constitutional quorum requirement. In other words, since the lawmakers have purposely left to break a quorum in the House, can their legislative seats be declared vacant? Paxton’s office has not sent a response as of yet, but this could lead to a very interesting set of circumstances, depending on how the AG rules.
As the House lacks a quorum, the Senate has passed most of the issues set out on the initial call of the special session. The Senate convened briefly this afternoon and now stands in recess until Monday. The House is standing at ease, coming in briefly every day to say an opening prayer and hand out daily leave slips for the members present in the chamber. 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. The current special session ends on August 6th.