Case Counts/Testing in Texas – Sunday, November 8th  (2:25 PM data)

Total Tests Performed – 9,659,272

Confirmed Cases – 956,234 (5,404 new cases)

Active Cases – 124,617

Hospitalizations – 6,080 (12,255 available beds, 1,000 available ICU beds)

Fatalities – 18,743 (43 new deaths)

Recovered Cases – 820,215

Inside the Numbers

Positivity rate as of Saturday, November 7th was 11%.  One month ago, there were 3,776 new cases reported, one week ago there were 6,845 new cases reported, compared to the 5,404 reported yesterday.  The 7 day average has increased by 1,273 cases.  The 6,080 COVID patients in hospitals now are 389 more than one week ago, and COVID patients make up 9.5% of total hospital beds in the state.

Large Gatherings at State Capitol

On Saturday morning, after the Association Press called the Presidential election for Joe Biden, supporters from both sides went to the grounds of the state Capitol to voice their opinions.  A pro-Trump rally started the activities, as his supporters gathered to voice their protest of the results.  However, the pro Biden supporters eventually took over, as his supporters were seen all across 11th street in front of the Capitol, as well as in cars up and down Congress Avenue.  Austin and Capitol police had a heavy presence at the gathering.  While there was a great deal of verbal back and forth between the two groups, all remained relatively peaceful.

Presumptive Speaker Begins Transition

The race for the new Speaker of the Texas House began immediately after the election, and was settled very soon thereafter.  Rep. Dade Phelan, Republican from Beaumont, secured the needed votes from both parties to ensure his election to the Speaker’s chair when the legislature convenes in January.  Over the weekend, Phelan named former state Representative and Senator Tommy Williams to lead his transition team.  Williams most recently served on Governor Abbott’s legislative staff.  Williams represented The Woodlands and several counties in east Texas in the Texas Senate before his retirement from the Senate in 2013.  

Phelan declared last week that he has a super majority of the Republican Caucus and a broad coalition of support among the House Democrats.  Phelan was first elected to the House in 2014, and currently serves as Chairman of the House State Affairs committee.  Even though there were several Democrats that had filed for the position of Speaker, when the Republicans maintained their 83-67 seat majority on election night, it was clear that a Republican member would be selected as Speaker.

Bill Filing for the Session Begins Today

Even though the session will not gavel in until January 12th, members can begin to file legislation to be considered by the full legislature today.  By mid-morning, nearly 500 bills had already been filed.  Lawmakers have until the 60th day of the session to file bills, which is Friday, March 12th.  Each session sees an average of 7,000 bills filed for consideration.  

During the regular session of the Legislature – which will meet for 140 days – any member can file legislation related to any subject.  Due to the forecast for billions of dollars in shortfalls to the state budget due to the coronavirus, the state’s fiscal situation will be a top priority for the Legislature.  They are also tasked with redistricting, which is the process undergone every 10 years to reapportion the districts of the members due to census and population shifts.  

None of the bills filed prior to the session will have any action taken at this time.  Bills filed during this time are simply given a low bill number, and demonstrate a priority for each member that files the bill.  Once the legislature convenes, and after committee assignments are distributed, then the work on the bills can begin.  

State Tries to Intervene in El Paso Shutdown

As the number of infections and hospitalizations continued to rise last week in El Paso, the county judge there ordered all non-essential businesses to be shutdown.  Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton tried to intervene, saying the judge’s local order was not valid, going beyond the restrictions that were allowed under a series of executive orders issued by Governor Abbott over the last few months.  A state district judge has sided with the county judge, saying his order can stand.  

The region has been reporting over 1,000 new cases each day.  Three US Air Force medical teams are headed ot El Paso  to support hospital personnel, and the state’s Division of Emergency Management has set up a temporary medical facility at the El Paso Convention Center to expand hospital capacity in the region.  Today, El Paso will report 889 new cases and seven new deaths.

The Texas legislative session begins in 64 days.