Case Counts/Testing in Texas – Monday, June 14th (4:10 PM data)
Confirmed Cases – 2,531,194 (278 new cases)
Hospitalizations – 1,599 (11,575 available beds, 996 available ICU beds)
Fatalities – 50,858 (1 new death)
Vaccine Data – Monday, June 14th (5:15 PM data)
Doses Shipped by state – 21,569,390
People vaccinated – 13,271,737
People fully vaccinated – 11,003,564
Total doses administered – 23,370,504
Inside the Numbers
Positivity rate as of Sunday, June 13th was 2.81%. One month ago, there were 1,500 new cases reported, one week ago there were 586 new cases reported, compared to the 278 reported yesterday. The 1,599 COVID patients in hospitals now is 57 more patients compared to one week ago, and COVID patients make up 2.5% of total hospital beds in the state.
Over the last week, an average of 84,380 doses have been administered each day in the state. As of Sunday, June 13th , 37.9% of Texans have been fully vaccinated.
Electric Grid Again Experiencing Problems
An early summer blast of heat – not unusual in Texas – has caused the state’s power grid to once again have issues meeting demand for electricity. ERCOT, the state agency that operates the electric grid, is asking all Texans to conserve and reduce electricity use as much as possible through Friday. This development is yet another blow to the credibility of the agency, not to mention the public’s confidence in the agency that failed miserably to deliver electricity on a reliable basis during the February winter storm. This request for conservation, according to the agency, is due to a large number of power plants being out of service right now for unplanned repairs. ERCOT has said that rolling blackouts – like the ones that occurred during the winter storm – are unlikely at this time, although they have given no reason for this particular declaration.
All of this follows a great deal of criticism that the legislature did not do enough to address these types of scenarios, when extreme temperatures force an increase in demand for power. During the session, bills were passed to restructure the ERCOT board and to require power companies to upgrade to have the ability to withstand extreme temperatures. The latter will take years to be fully implemented, and in the meantime, most of us will have to live with the fear of losing power during extreme weather events.
Abbott Wants Crowdfunding for Border Wall
Gov. Abbott announced last week that the state of Texas will build a wall at the border, but has yet to give details on exactly where the wall would be costructed and more importantly, how it would be funded. A full report has not been released at this time. However, in an interview on the Podcast “Ruthless” today, Abbott said he would be solicting donations via crowdfunding, where a website would have a link to accept donations. During the legislative session, Rep. Bryan Slaton (R, Royse City) introduced HB 2862, which directed the legislature to set up a fund to appropriate money to construct a border wall. The bill never received a hearing and Gov. Abbott never endorsed the legislation.
Abbott made this declaration last week during a visit to Del Rio last week, when he invited several law enforcement and other elected officials from the border region to disucss issues related to enhancement of border security. The announcement by Abbott also came after former state Senator Don Huffines announced he would challenge Abbott in next year’s Republican primary. Huffines has been a harsh critic of Abbott for lax border security and has committed to finish construction of the border wall if he is successful in his challenge to Abbott.
State Democrats Head to DC to Discuss Voting Issues
At the invitation of Vice President Kamala Harris, several Democratic members of the state House and Senate will travel to Washington for a meeting at the White House to discuss voting legislation that was defeated in the waning hours of the regular session. Some form of voting legislation will be considered in the upcoming special session later this summer. Both Republicans and Democrats feel that legislation relative to voting rights is one of the most important issues facing our elected officials. Democrats in the meeting say they plan to ask the White House to continue speaking out against legislation they feel will have the effect of suppressing the right to vote, and ask for any assistance in their fight against the legislation in the special session.
Lt Governor Makes Changes to Committees
Lt. Governor Patrick made news with two major announcements last week. First, he announced that he would seek a 3rd term as Lt. Governor in 2022. It had been rumored that he may challenge Gov. Abbott, but Patrick put those rumors to rest with his reelection announcement on Thursday. Patrick enters the race with $19.5 million in his campaign account as of the end of 2020. He has already scheduled an Austin fundraiser for later this month that will assuredly take him over the $20 million mark for cash on hand. Houston accountant Mike Collier has already announced he will challenge Patrick as a Democrat. Collier lost to Patrick by 5 points in the 2018 general election. No Republican has announced to challenge Patrick in the primary.
Patrick also reshuffled the Senate committees last week. On Friday, new chairmanships were announced for some major Senate committees. Sen. Charles Schwertner (R, Georgetown) will now chair the Senate Business and Commerce Committee, taking over from Sen. Kelly Hancock (R, North Richland Hills). Hancock moves over to the Veterans and Border Affairs Committee. That committee was previously chaired by Sen. Donna Campbell (R, New Braunfels) who now moves to chair the Nominations Committee. The Nominations committee was chaired by Sen. Dawn Buckingham (R, Lakeway). Buckingham will be leaving the Senate to run for Land Commissioner.
The period to sign or veto legislation from the session comes to an end this Sunday. So, expect an announcement on the bills that didn’t make the cut by Friday or Saturday. After that, as early as Tuesday, Abbott is expected to announce the date of and items for consideration for the special session.