Case Counts/Testing in Texas – Monday, March 22rd (3:40 PM data)
Total Tests Performed – 24,891,879
Confirmed Cases – 2,368,222 (1,516 new cases)
Active Cases – 104,994
Hospitalizations – 3,447 (14,338 available beds, 1,149 available ICU beds)
Fatalities – 46,478 (65 new deaths)
Recovered Cases – 2,592,759
Vaccine Data – Tuesday, March 23rd (1:00 PM data)
Doses Shipped by state – 11,464,655
People with one dose received – 6,407,978
People fully vaccinated – 3,215,549
Total doses administered – 9,397,724
Inside the Numbers
Molecular positivity rate as of Monday, March 22nd was 5.76%. One month ago, there were 7,600 new cases reported, one week ago there were 4,300 new cases reported, compared to the 1,516 reported yesterday. The 3,447 COVID patients in hospitals now are 533 fewer than one week ago, and COVID patients make up 5.3% of total hospital beds in the state.
Over the last week, an average of 132,442 doses have been administered each day in the state. As of March 21st, 11% of Texans have been fully vaccinated.
All Adults Eligible for Covid-19 Vaccine Starting Monday
Starting March 29, everyone 16+, regardless of occupation or health status, will be eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine in Texas.
The Texas Department of State Health Services asks that providers continue to prioritize appointments for people 80 . Additionally, they ask that they prioritize walk-ins from anyone 80+ who shows up without an appointment. The vaccines are not limited to Texas residents, and citizenship is not a requirement for the vaccine.
“We are closing in on 10 million doses administered in Texas, and we want to keep up the momentum as the vaccine supply increases,” said Imelda Garcia, DSHS associate commissioner for laboratory and infectious disease services and the chair of the state’s Expert Vaccine Allocation Panel.
Texas Supreme Court Refuses to Weigh in on ERCOT Legal Immunity
In a narrowly divided decision, the Texas Supreme Court ruled on Friday that the state’s power-grid manager, ERCOT, has legal immunity – potentially shielding it from billions of dollars in blackout-related claims.
The decision made by the all-Republican bench was split 5 to 4 with the majority concluding that, due to a legal technicality, it could not weigh in on the Electric Reliability Council of Texas’s claim to governmental immunity. As a result, a lower court ruling granting government immunity to ERCOT will stand.
The chief justice was joined by three others in vehemently dissenting the decision. In their opinion, the public uproar over ERCOT’s role in the power outages insists upon a clear decision from the high court on the issue of immunity.
“The parties want to know. The public wants to know. The court refuses to answer,” Chief Justice Nathan Hecht wrote. He said the court will face the same question again a year or two from now, as the same case circles back and fresh challenges related to the February calamity also rise through the court system.
The Texas high court’s decision ignores recent filings by some of the state’s largest counties pleading for ERCOT to be left exposed to blackout-related claims.
“Let those who have suffered bring and prove their case,” said Harris County attorney Christian Menefee. “Simply being regulated and serving a public purpose is not enough to confer immunity — many private businesses do just that.”
Texas Lawmaker Identified at US Capitol During January 6th Riots
A video uploaded to the social networking site Parler appears to show Texas state Rep. Kyle Biedermann standing close to the steps of the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 as a mob collided with Capitol Police Officers.
Notoriously, that mob later invaded the Capitol building and forced members of the United States Congress to evacuate or shelter in place. During the riot, five people were killed, more than 140 were injured and well over 315 people were criminally charged – so far.
Biedermann, a Trump-aligned Republican in the Texas House representing Kendall, Comal and Gillespie counties, previously confirmed that he was in D.C. on Jan. 6 for the ‘Save America Rally.’
Senate Democrats Temporarily Block GOP Election Bills
By employing an obscure provision in the Texas Senate rulebook, Democratic senators were able to block the consideration of five Republican voting bills at a Capitol committee hearing on Monday.
The Democrats’ opposition has signaled their robust opposition to bills they say intend to make it harder to cast ballots in Texas, especially for young and minority voters who tend to support Democrats.
In contrast, Republicans maintain that the bills intend to improve election integrity by cracking down on election fraud.
The Democrats delayed action by “tagging” the bills, saying they were not provided with written notice of Monday’s public hearing at the State Affairs Committee within 48 hours.
State Affairs Chairman Bryan Hughes, R-Mineola, announced the delay at the start of Monday’s hearing, and has already reposted the hearing for this Friday..
House Homeland Security Hearing Several High Profile Bills on Thursday
Permitless Carry Bill
Several bills were introduced during the ongoing 87th session of the Texas Legislature which would nullify the need for “License to Carry.” The bills in the House were introduced by Rep. Kyle Biedermann and Rep. James White, the Chairman of the Committee. The bills essentially change state penal code to allow any citizen eligible – not a convicted felon, not engaged in criminal activity, etc.. — to possess and carry a handgun. The bill would also include holstered or concealed carry.
George Floyd Act
A major legislative initiative introduced by the legislative black caucus, named in honor of George Floyd who was murdered in police custody over the summer in Minneapolis, House Bill 88 would place a number of new reforms within policing including the banning of chokeholds, require law enforcement to intervene if another officer is using excessive force, and limit qualified immunity, which protects government officials from litigation in particular contexts for law enforcement. The bill aims at creating more accountability within policing, and rebuild trust across all communities.
Reform of Sexual Assault Investigations
Several bills aimed at reforming sexual assault investigations have been introduced during the 87th session. State Rep. Victoria Neave (D-Dallas), who has authored previous bills to reform sexual assault investigations, introduced two new bills this year. Bills up in committee this week seek to improve the forensic medical examinations regarding sexual assaults, lengthen the statute of limitations to report workplace harassment, and provide more resources to law enforcement and family violence centers.
We are at the halfway point of the session. 70 days remaining. The House convenes at 10AM tomorrow, and will have their first calendar of the session. Included on the calendar is HB 1024, the Alcohol To Go bill. This bill puts into statute the practice put in place during the pandemic allowing patrons to get alcoholic beverages with their pick up orders from restaurants. The Senate convenes at 1PM tomorrow.