Case Counts/Testing in Texas – Thursday, November 19th  (4:45 PM data)

Total Tests Performed – 10,714,040

Confirmed Cases – 1,060,883 (12,293 new cases)

Active Cases – 147,030

Hospitalizations – 7,982 (11,136 available beds, 855 available ICU beds)

Fatalities – 20,113  (230 new deaths)

Recovered Cases – 896,191

Inside the Numbers

Positivity rate as of Wednesday, November 18th  was 12.08%.  One month ago, there were 4,856 new cases reported, one week ago there were 10,542 new cases reported, compared to the 12,293 reported yesterday.  The 7 day average has increased by 1,918 cases.  The 7,982 COVID patients in hospitals now are 1,057 more than one week ago, and COVID patients make up 11.9% of total hospital beds in the state.

More Milestones Reached

The 12,293 cases reported yesterday is another record high for daily reporting.  And, Texas has surpassed 20,000 deaths from the coronavirus.  Average daily tests have increased by 35% since the first of October.  And as of yesterday, there are now reported cases in all 254 Texas counties.  The last holdout was Loving County in far west Texas, that recently reported its first case.  Loving County is the least populated county in Texas, with only 169 residents.  And of interest, it also the least populated county in the continental United States.  Only Kalawao County, on the Hawaiian Island of Molokai has fewer residents with 88.

Thanksgiving Safety and Travel

Due to the increase in infections, many local and state officials are urging caution for Thanksgiving travel and gatherings.  The State Department of Health Services has issued a set of guidelines to try and reduce the spread of COVID during the holiday.  These guidelines contain the standard protocols with which we are all familiar.  The agency’s entire statement on the safety issues regarding the Thanksgiving holiday can be found here:  

However, even with the spike in infections and the repeated warnings, airlines are reporting that travel will be on the increase for the holiday.  United Airlines is expecting this coming week to be the busiest since the pandemic began in March, and has added over 1,400 domestic flights to accommodate the increased air travel.  Southwest Airlines has said they expect travel on their flights to increase by roughly 15% next week, and plans to add an additional 4,000 flights a day during the holiday travel time period.

Governor Abbott Again Says No Shutdown

Even with the records being set and milestones being reached in the pandemic, Gov. Abbott again yesterday stated that there are no considerations for a statewide shutdown.  Abbott traveled to hard hit Lubbock yesterday with the goal of promoting the state’s distribution of a new treatment that is designed to limit the strain on hospital capacity.  This was the first pandemic related press conference for Abbott in the last several weeks, where Abbott touted the efficacy of the new antibody therapy that is intended for those in early stage infections who are at a greater risk.  Abbott claims the drug has proven to be effective at lessening the effects of COVID, thus reducing the need for patients to be hospitalized.  

Abbott said that to effectively combat the pandemic, the emphasis should be on improved treatment options along with the practice of the necessary behavioral activities such as social distancing and the wearing of masks.  Abbott went on to say that the closing of businesses and other places of work will not slow the spread, and pleaded with everyone to limit large social gatherings and practice the sensible and proper measures that are more effective in slowing the spread.  

House Members Call for STAAR Exam to be Canceled

With so many of the state’s public schools either closed or having to teach students with at least some form of remote learning, 68 members of the Texas House – both Democrats and Republicans – called on the Texas Education Agency to cancel the annual State of Texas Assessment of Academic Readiness (STAAR) exam this year.  This would be the second year in a row that the state of Texas has applied for a waiver from the federal government allowing it not to administer the test.  Last spring, Texas was granted the waiver.

Each individual school is graded based on STAAR results annually, and federal funding for public schools is determined, at least in part, by the standardized test results.  The letter from the House members states that data from the test administered during the pandemic are inaccurate and unreliable, due to the fact that traditional learning has been disrupted or even suspended in some cases.

With Significant Increase in Crime Statistics, DPS Once Again Dispatched to Dallas

The City of Dallas is once again experiencing a significant increase in shootings, and Governor Abbott is once again sending DPS officers to help combat the rise in violence.  Last weekend, Dallas had seven fatal shootings, bringing the homicide count for the year to 220 in Dallas, compared to 210 in all of 2019.  Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson has welcomed the assistance from the state police, saying that the situation demands any and all help available.  In addition to helping with homicide investigations, DPS officers will also assist gang and drug investigations 

The Texas legislative session begins in 53 days.