Case Counts/Testing in Texas – Tuesday, May 11th (2:40 PM data)
Total Tests Performed – 29,086,103
Confirmed Cases – 2,490,481 (2,859 new cases)
Active Cases – 49,651
Hospitalizations – 2,508 (12,225 available beds, 994 available ICU beds)
Fatalities – 49,651 (57 new deaths)
Recovered Cases – 2,773,699
Vaccine Data – Tuesday, May 11th (3:00 PM data)
Doses Shipped by state – 20,924,250
People with one dose received – 11,513,270
People fully vaccinated – 8,842,153
Total doses administered – 19,666,956
Inside the Numbers
Molecular positivity rate as of Tuesday, May 11th was 4.38%. One month ago, there were 1,500 new cases reported, one week ago there were 3,200 new cases reported, compared to the 2,859 reported yesterday. The 2,508 COVID patients in hospitals now are 95 less than one week ago, and COVID patients make up 4% of total hospital beds in the state.
Over the last week, an average of 148,331 doses have been administered each day in the state. As of May 10th, 30.5% of Texans have been fully vaccinated.
Former Sen. Huffines Announces Gubernatorial Challenge to Abbott
Earlier this week, Gov. Greg Abbott received his first major opponent in his bid to seek a 3rd term as Governor in 2022. Former Texas state Senator Don Huffines has announced his run for governor to challenge Abbott in the Republican primary. Huffines served one term in the Texas Senate, from 2015 thru 2018. Huffines, currently in the real estate business, comes from a family that has owned an extensive number of car dealerships in the DFW metroplex for the last several decades.
It is clear from the rhetoric he used on Monday that Huffines will strategize to attack Abbott from the right. In a written statement, Huffines said, “For too long, Texas has been let down by politicians who offer nothing but excuses and lies. Our border is still wide open. Property taxes keep going up. And our election laws continue to be ignored. Plain and simple, our politicians aren’t getting things done, and Texans have rightfully run out of patience.” Huffines has long been supported by the most conservative faction of the Texas GOP. And, has actively criticized Abbott for closing businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic. In his statement announcing his bid, Huffines said that Abbott has consistently showed extremely poor leadership in the whole process, and harmed Texas businesses by ordering them to shut down during the pandemic.
Last October, Huffines spoke at a “Free Texas” rally, held outside the Governor’s Mansion by opponents of Abbott’s coronavirus restrictions.
Huffines is the first Republican to announce a challenge to Abbott for next year’s gubernatorial race.
Texas House Approves HB 3 to Limit Abbott’s Emergency Pandemic Powers
On Tuesday, the Texas House passed HB 3, a bill that would constrain Gov. Abbott’s emergency powers in the event of a future pandemic. It would also compel the executive branch to gather the Legislature if another such crisis ensues. Interestingly the proposal does not stop there. It also includes amendments that would limit local officials’ power to issue their own orders. Throughout the pandemic, Texas’ Democrat-controlled big cities often clashed with Abbott over who held the authority to enforce restrictions such as mask mandates. The bill also creates a special committee – made up of statewide officials other than Abbott, as well as key members of the Legislature – to review and possibly overturn any executive orders by Abbott prior to the time required to convene in special session.
The bill was passed on a 92-45 vote in the Republican-controlled lower chamber. The bill is seen as a rebuke to the Governor and to local mayors and county judges throughout the state who have been criticized by both parties for their handling of the pandemic. The Senate has passed similar measures relative to the Governor’s powers during a time of declared disaster, but their version differs from what the House passed. HB 3 will now be under consideration by the Senate.
Movement on the bill comes as lawmakers on both sides the aisle criticized Abbott for declining to call a special session to deal with the COVID crisis.
Texas House Passes Bill to Prohibit Critical Race Theory in Education
A bill that Democrats have labeled as “Orwellian” during heated debates on the House floor was passed on a 79-65 vote on Tuesday. Supporters of the bill simply see it as an effort to keep “critical race theory” from being taught in schools. The opposition say it is a way of whitewashing the country’s uncomfortable history of slavery.
Educators see the bill as a way to limit efforts to have honest conversations about race in Texas classrooms.
Ultimately, the bill is a political move that would bring Texas’ Republican-controlled Legislature in line with some other conservative states. Dozens of groups denounced the bill as well as its Senate companion, which already cleared that chamber, as a violation of free speech and current educational standards. The say it would weaken attempts to prepare students to be informed, active citizens. For hours on Monday and Tuesday, House Democrats tried to derail the bill with pointed questions about the legislation’s intent and potential harm.
Major Deadline Approaching
Tomorrow is the final day that the House can consider any bill originating in the House on the House floor. With members trying desperately to pass their pet projects prior to the deadline, the House calendar is 31 pages long, not including tomorrow’s calendar. After tomorrow, the House can only consider bills originating in the Senate for another 2 weeks. Then, the final days of the session are reserved for concurrence in amendments and adoption of conference committee reports.
The House convened at 10 AM today and due to the coming deadline, will work well into the night. The Senate convened at 11 AM. The session ends on May 31st.