Case Counts/Testing in Texas – Tuesday, November 23rd   (3:35 PM data)

Total Tests Performed – 11,247,875

Confirmed Cases – 1,100,979 (6,576 new cases)

Active Cases – 165,126

Hospitalizations – 8,353 (12,437 available beds, 923 available ICU beds)

Fatalities – 20,588  (32 new deaths)

Recovered Cases – 917,739

Inside the Numbers

Positivity rate as of Monday, November 22nd  was 11.05%.  One month ago, there were 6,125 new cases reported, one week ago there were 10,823 new cases reported, compared to the 6,576 reported yesterday.  The 7 day average has increased by 1,666 cases.  The 8,353 COVID patients in hospitals now are 857 more than one week ago, and COVID patients make up 12.4% of total hospital beds in the state.

Over 100 Texas Counties In High Risk Category

A study released by Harvard University on Sunday shows that at least 120 counties in Texas are at a “red” or high risk level, meaning they have numbers that equal 25 cases per 100,000 people.  The largest number of cases are in Harris County, with 178,811.  That also ranks the county 5th nationally.  The county has also reported 2,943 deaths from the virus.  Dallas County has the second highest number of cases in the state with 113,754, followed by Tarrant with 87,536  

Only four counties in Texas will enter the Thanksgiving holiday week in the “green”, or lowest threat level.  They are Motley and King Counties in far west Texas, Cherokee County in east Texas, and Kenedy County in south Texas.  Kenedy County is home to the sprawling King Ranch, having very few human inhabitants.

State Outlines Vaccination Distribution Plan

State health officials released the final plans for distributing the coronavirus vaccines when they become available, which is expected to be in the next 2-3 weeks.  Both Pfizer and Moderna have  already applied with the federal Food and Drug Administration for Emergency Use Authorization of their vaccines, both of which claim to be over 90% effective.  A state panel of experts on vaccine related issues revealed the priority levels for recipients of the vaccines.  First in line will be the front line health care workers in the hospitals – doctors, nurses, custodians – who have direct contact with COVID patients.  They will be followed by workers in long term care facilities for the elderly and disabled, then emergency services providers such as paramedics, and finally home health care workers who manage high risk patients.  The state estimates that there are approximately 5 million Texans that fall into one of the above categories.

After the initial round of vaccinations for the priority group, the state will then make the vaccine available to the second tier group, which will consist of health care professionals working in office settings and urgent care clinics, health care workers who administer COVID tests, mortuary workers, and school nurses.  

The vaccines are not expected to be available to the general public until April, at the earliest.  

More Testing Sites Available

With the rise in infections, Texans are more and more eager to get tested on a regular basis.  The state now has over 2,000 testing sites throughout the state, including many mobile testing sites.  The Department of Emergency Management has an interactive map that allows you to find a convenient testing site, and can be found at this link:

Unemployment Rate Falls

Let’s finish on some good news.  The state unemployment rate for October fell to 6.9%, down from the September rate of 8.3%.  It is the latest sign of a slow but steady economic recovery.  This is the 6th straight month that the state has added jobs, and during that time period, a total of 780,000 of the previously lost jobs have returned.  The state’s unemployment rate was 3.5% in March, prior to the onset of the pandemic and unemployment reached a high of nearly 14% in April, when the economic restrictions were in place.

I would like to extend my best wishes to each of you and your families for a very safe and Happy Thanksgiving.  I’ll be back next week with more updates on the happenings here in Austin and our state.  Be safe and take care!!!

The Texas legislative session begins in 51 days.