Case Counts/Testing in Texas – Wednesday, September 30th (4:35 PM data)
Total Tests Performed – 6,749,265
Confirmed Cases – 748,967 (5,335 new cases)
Active Cases – 69,676
Hospitalizations – 3,344 (12,179 available beds, 1,262 available ICU beds)
Fatalities – 15,711 (107 new deaths)
Recovered Cases – 664,883
Inside the Numbers
Positivity rate as of Tuesday, September 29th was 6.31%. One month ago, there were 4,732 new cases reported, one week ago there were 3,964 new cases reported, compared to the 5,335 reported yesterday. The 7 day average has increased by 357 cases. The 3,344 COVID patients in hospitals now are 149 more than one week ago, and COVID patients make up 5.8% of total hospital beds in the state.
Result of SD 30 race
The Special Election for state Senate District 30 was held on Tuesday. The seat became vacant after the resignation of Pat Fallon (R, Denton), who is now running to replace former Congressman John Ratcliff from Heath, who resigned following his confirmation as director of national intelligence.
State Representative Drew Springer (R, Muenster) and Dallas salon owner Shelley Luther (R) advanced to a general election runoff. Luther finished narrowly ahead of Springer, with each receiving roughly 32% of the vote in a six person contest. Only 164 votes separated Luther and Springer. This district is largely rural, including part of the DFW Metroplex, and stetching over to Wichita Falls. The runoff will pit Springer, an incumbent House member and part of the Republican establishment against a political newcomer in Luther, who has aggressively pushed back against Governor Abbott’s pandemic response. No date for the runoff has been set, but it should occur sometime in November.
Texas service, retail sectors show signs of recovery
The Federal Reserve of Dallas has issued a report that the Texas service sector activity this month grew at its fastest pace since February, with retailers posting a solid rebound.
The Dallas Fed’s Texas Service Outlook Survey takes the pulse of executives in the service industry, which includes retail, hospitality, professional and technical services and other businesses. The survey showed that labor market indicators are showing increases in employment and average hours worked, although a majority of services firms continued to note headcounts below February levels.
The state revenue index, a key measure of the service sector, rose more than 12 points to a reading of 14, its highest since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. Positive numbers in the index reflect expansion, while negative numbers reflect contraction. A March reading of minus-66 was the lowest since collection of the data began in 2007.
Labor market indicators in September were positive for the first time since February, with the employment index rising three points to 2.7 and the hours worked index up eight points to 6.6. The general business activity index rose nearly seven points to 11.5, suggesting increasing optimism about current business conditions.
Democrats Start Air War Against Texas House GOP
Democratic Texas House candidates and allied organizations have pledged to spend more than $6 million to flip the lower chamber of the Legislature. TV and online ads are currently running, blasting incumbent Republicans in an air war spanning mainly the Houston and Dallas-Fort Worth media markets.
You can also look for Republicans to start lighting up the Democrats with more ads of their own in the coming weeks. Much of the chatter in Austin has been focused on Democrats ceding field operations to Republicans during the pandemic. Democrats are running their campaigns mostly virtually, while Republicans are sticking to the more traditional methods of in person contact. Now, the minority party is getting more aggressive in television ads featuring some blistering attacks on potentially vulnerable incumbents. The ads from candidates and the Democratic super PAC Forward Majority include sharp critiques of Republican incumbents for their support of the repeal of the Affordable Care Act.
Republican members are fighting back with ads of their own. Incumbents in swing districts are touting their increased funding for public education and public school teachers, passed in the form of House Bill 3 last session. Many of the Republicans are also focusing on the need to stop the political bickering, and come together to solve the global pandemic.
The Republicans currently hold an 82-68 partisan advantage in the 150 member House, meaning the Democrats need to flip only 8 seats to gain control of the Texas House, something they have not had since 2002. Most of the battleground districts are in the suburban areas of Houston and the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex.
New sales tax numbers are in. For September, the state collected about $2.6 billion in sales tax revenue, which is a 6.1% decrease from what was collected in September of 2019. The sluggish economy and low crude oil prices are what is causing the decrease in collections. All major sectors fo the economy, except for retail trade, were down as compared to one year ago.
Democratic US Senate candidate raised $13.5 million during the third quarter of this year. This is by far her biggest fundraising period of the campaign. In the second quarter of this year, she only raised $1.7 million. Hegar says she will put the money to good use, continuing her TV ad blitz in the state’s nine top media markets. Most polls show Cornyn with a lead of 4-6 points, with a significant number of voters still undecided.
In another back and forth regarding voting and ballot issues, a three-judge federal appeals panel yesterday upheld the state’s 2017 state law ending the practice of straight ticket voting. So, there will be no “one-punch” option at the polls this year.
There are 33 days until the November 3rd general election and 103 days until the start of the Texas legislative session.