Case Counts/Testing in Texas – Monday, November 1st (12:30 PM data)
Confirmed Cases – 3,512,551 (922 new cases)
Hospitalizations – 3,380 (11,035 available beds, 891 available ICU beds)
Fatalities – 70,000 (19 new deaths)
Vaccine Data – Monday, November 1st (12:00 PM data)
Total doses administered – 33,531,129
People vaccinated – 17,781,002
People fully vaccinated – 15,473,525
Doses Shipped by state – 25,575,040
Inside the Numbers
Positivity rate as of Sunday, October 31st was 5.22%. One month ago, there were 8,000 new cases reported, one week ago there were 3,700 new cases reported, compared to the 922 reported yesterday. The 3,380 COVID patients in hospitals now is 749 less patients compared to one week ago, and COVID patients make up 5.4% of total hospital beds in the state.
Over the last week, an average of 35,809 doses have been administered each day in the state. As of Monday, November 1st, 53.1% of Texans have been fully vaccinated.
Today is Election Day
The 8 proposed constitutional amendments that I sent information on yesterday will appear on the ballots of all Texans choosing to vote today. Since 1971, voters have approved over 300 changes to our state constitution. In addition, there are some high profile local elections and one special election for state representative on the ballots today.
In San Antonio, voters in House District 118 will choose a candidate to fill the unexpired term of former Rep. Leo Pacheco. Republican John Lujan faces Democrat Frank Ramirez in an election that the Republicans are pushing hard for a victory to show that they can win in an area of south Texas, a region they will concentrate on flipping in the 2022 elections.
Several municipalities are holding elections for mayor and/or city council seats including The Woodlands, College Station, Midland, Edinburg, Mesquite, San Marcos, Texarkana, and Wichita Falls. In Austin, there is the closely watched citizen-initiated proposition on whether or not to increase the number of police officers in the city.
Texas Abortion Law at Supreme Court
The newly passed Texas abortion law bans the procedure once cardiac activity is detected, usually around six weeks. Several state lawmakers and statewide officials gathered outside the Supreme Court yesterday prior to the oral arguments before the Justices. What is unique about the new law is that it is not enforced by the state, but rather by private citizens, allowing anyone to sue any party involved in an abortion procedure. That was the main focus of the hearing yesterday. Once the arguments began, most objective observers noted that a clear majority of the justices seemed skeptical of the new law, questioning whether or not this type of enforcement would be prudent in other instances. The arguments went on for about three hours, and this case is the first of two high-profile abortion cases on the court’s docket this fall. The other case involves a proposed Mississippi law that bans abortion after 15 weeks of pregnancy. The court has agreed to hear both cases in an expedited manner, and will likely issue an opinion on both later this fall.
State Officials Inquiry on Textbooks
Last week, state Rep. Matt Krause (R, Fort Worth) sent a letter to the Texas Education Agency and selected school districts to notify them he was launching an investigation into the types of books the districts are using to teach students, their content, how they were acquired, and how much the districts paid for them. Krause said he has the authority to do this as Chair of the House General Investigating Committee. Incidentally, Krause is also a Republican candidate for Attorney General. Along with the letter, Krause provided a 16 page list of roughly 850 book titles that potentially violate the state’s new critical race theory law. Critical race theory is the idea that racism is embedded in our society and legal system, and is a discipline taught at the university level. The legislature passed a bill this session that bans the idea of critical race theory from being taught in our public school system. In his letter, Krause claims that several school districts throughout the state have already begun to remove many of the books on the list he included due to objections from students and parents.
On Monday, Gov. Abbott sent a letter to the Texas Association of School Boards asking them to determine to what extent inappropriate content exists in the state’s textbooks, and asks them to remove relevant textbooks from their local curriculum. In response, the Association of School Boards said they were confused as to why the letter was sent to them, since that association does not set the standard for instructional materials in their local schools.
Feds Sued Over Vaccine Mandates
On Friday, the state of Texas sued the Biden administration over the recently issued mandate for federal contractors to be vaccinated. The new federal mandate, set to take effect on December 8th, requires all federal workers and contractors to be vaccinated against COVID. Similar lawsuits have been filed by Florida and Georgia. This continues the series of conflicts between the state and the federal government over vaccine mandates. In October, Gov. Abbott issued an executive order that prohibited any entity – including private businesses – from requiring a vaccination for their employees or patrons. The lawsuit filed by the state alleges the Biden administration acted unconstitutionally, saying that Congress must approve any federal mandate. The Legislature did not approve the ban on mandates issued by Abbott when they were in special sessions earlier this year. The Supreme Court – where this fight will ultimately conclude – has already issued rulings on related cases by refusing to block a vaccine mandate issued by the state of Maine, Indiana University, and the New York city public school system.
Poll Shows Abbott/O’Rourke in Virtual Tie
The Texas Hispanic Policy Foundation and the Rice University Baker Institute released a poll on a potential matchup for the 2022 race for Texas Governor. As Abbott is seeking his third term, and former Congressman Beto O’Rourke is apparently leaning towards a general election challenge to Abbott next fall. In the poll released yesterday, Abbott and O’Rourke are basically tied, with Abbott as the choice of 43% of the poll’s participants compared to 42% for O’Rourke. 12% were undecided. Another question added Matthew McConaughey to the mix. In that question, Abbott was the choice of 40%, O’Rourke 37%, and McConaughey came in at 9%.
Even though Abbott does not reach the 50% threshold among all voters, in this poll he remains strong among Republican primary voters. Abbott was the choice of 61% of the Republican primary voters questioned, compared to 13% for former Republican party chair Allen West, and 4% for former state Senator Don Huffines.
The poll, which surveyed 1.402 registered voters, was conducted between October 14th and 27th. The polling memo can be found here: https://www.txhpf.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/11/TxHPF-2022gubernatorialelection.pdf
The new maps for the legislative and congressional districts are in place for now, and candidates are lining up to run in these districts, but we all wait to see if court intervention will change the districts. If the maps withhold judicial scrutiny, then the period to file for office for next year’s election begins on November 13th.