Case Counts/Testing in Texas – Monday, November 16th  (10:40 AM data)

Total Tests Performed – 10,395,826

Confirmed Cases – 1,020,721 (6,390 new cases)

Active Cases – 131,820

Hospitalizations – 7,274 (11,811 available beds, 938 available ICU beds)

Fatalities – 19,559 (89 new deaths)

Recovered Cases – 871,784

Inside the Numbers

Positivity rate as of Monday, November 16th  was 9.88%.  One month ago, there were 4,581 new cases reported, one week ago there were 7,221 new cases reported, compared to the 8,989 reported yesterday. The 7 day average has increased by 1,768 cases.  The 7,274 COVID patients in hospitals now are 1,104 more than one week ago, and COVID patients make up 10.64% of total hospital beds in the state.

Potential 2024 Presidential Run for Gov. Abbott

Capitol sources say Gov. Greg Abbott continues to ponder a potential presidential run in 2024. In a Thursday morning interview with DFW radio host Mark Davis, Abbott said “you know, one thing that you know about me … is I take one step at a time, and the first step is to win re-election. And after that, Mark, we’ll see what happens.” Abbott’s presidential ambitions are all too familiar for Texas’s governors with his two immediate predecessors – George W. Bush and Rick Perry – having taken similar steps towards the White House. Abbott understands that in order to reach that point he must, first, survive his next gubernatorial race in 2022. If he is to do so, he’ll need to regain the popularity lost amongst conservatives statewide due to frustrations over his unilateral executive orders and shutdowns in response to the pandemic. 

Texas Surpasses 1 Million COVID-19 Cases

On Friday, Texas reached a devastating benchmark – reaching more than 1 million positive COVID-19 cases throughout the state. This makes Texas the nation’s leader in coronavirus cases. Despite the dramatic rise, state officials have so far refused to impose additional restrictions on their citizens. 

Partially fueled by the reopening of restaurants and businesses in the state, cases surged in June and July. In response, Abbott backtracked on some of his reopening plans and new cases of the virus began to fall finding a steady low in late summer. Experts believe it was this steady decrease that led people to think we were in the clear and to ultimately lose their vigilance. Others attribute it to “pandemic fatigue”, a yearning for a return to normalcy. 

The dire situation in El Paso continues to rage on with hospital beds running scarce and morgues overflowing with bodies. Earlier this month, the U.S. Department of Defense sent medial teams to alleviate the burden held by the hospitals. In an attempt to slow the spread, El Paso County Judge Ricardo Samaniego imposed a mandatory two-week shutdown of nonessential businesses last month. In response, Gov. Abbott and AG Paxton sued the judge. The 8th Court of Appeals has ruled that the county cannot shutdown non-essential businesses.  

Whistleblower Lawsuit Filed Against AG Paxton 

After reporting Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton to the authorities for using the agency to serve the interests of a political donor and friend, Nate Paul, two former top aides to the AG were asked to resign, and, after refusing, were fired. In total, eight senior aides accused Paxton, none of which are still working at the office. 

Four senior aides are now suing Paxton’s office for unlawful retaliation. The lawsuit was filed in Travis County District Court under the Texas Whistleblower Act. It gives the clearest picture yet about the motivation of the whistleblowers and the retaliation they say they faced after making their report. Paxton told KXAN on Friday that he did not fire the aides in retaliation, but because of “legitimate issues unrelated to me that ended up resulting in their termination.”

The whistleblowers are asking for reinstatement, compensation for lost wages, future loss of earnings and damages for emotional pain and suffering. If their case is won, it will be taxpayers, not Paxton, bearing the majority of the litigation costs.

The Texas legislative session begins in 57 days.