Case Counts/Testing in Texas – Monday, October 12th (4:45 PM data)
Total Tests Performed – 7,550,496
Confirmed Cases – 795,126 (2,384 new cases)
Active Cases – 75,034
Hospitalizations – 3,870 (13,513 available beds, no current data available on ICU beds)
Fatalities – 16,558 (1 new death)
Recovered Cases – 705,189
Inside the Numbers
Positivity rate as of Tuesday, October 12th was 6.82%. One month ago, there were 3,905 new cases reported, one week ago there were 3,876 new cases reported, compared to the 2,384 reported yesterday. The 7 day average has increased by 136 cases. The 3,870 COVID patients in hospitals now are 552 more than one week ago, and COVID patients make up 6% of total hospital beds in the state.
Early Voting Starts Today
Early In-Person voting starts today. Polling times and locations vary, depending on your location. Early voting statewide starts today and lasts until Friday, October 30th. For information on early voting, including procedures and links to your home county’s locations, click here: https://www.votetexas.gov/mobile/voting/where.htm
Vote By Mail is also continuing. In Texas, you are eligible to vote by mail if you can prove you will be away from your county of residence on election day; you are sick or disabled; are aged 65 or over as of election day; or confined in jail, but still eligible to vote. You can apply for a ballot to vote by mail at the Secretary of State website, and have until October 23rd to make application. Completed applications must then be returned to your local county election official. For all information regarding voting by mail, including the application and links to your local county election official, click here: https://www.sos.texas.gov/elections/voter/reqabbm.shtml
Heavy turnout is expected throughout Texas for this year’s election. The state of Texas now has a record 16.9 million registered voters. In Harris County, 234,000 new voters were added to the voter rolls since the 2016 Presidential election, and that is despite the county adding only 143,000 total residents during the same period. Harris County now has nearly 2.5 million registered voters. In Bexar County, local officials say their voter rolls have increased by 12 percent since 2016. As of Monday, before early voting started, Bexar County had already received 41,000 ballots by mail/drop off. That exceeds the entire number of mail ballots for the 2016 Presidential election.
Federal Appeals Court Again Limits Drop Off Locations
The 5th Circuit Court of Appeals on Saturday issued a stay in an ongoing legal battle that once again forbids Texas counties from setting up multiple drop off locations for mail in ballots. Governor Abbott in September issued an Executive Order that limits counties to one drop off location, citing the need for oversight of ballot security. Several voting rights groups sued the state, asking for the order to be lifted, saying the order forces an unnecessary burden on the right to vote. A federal district judge sided with the plaintiffs on Friday night, ruling the order issued by Abbott should be lifted and counties should be allowed to establish multiple drop off locations. After the 5th Circuit issued a stay on the district court ruling on Saturday, the court issued a ruling on Monday night that upheld Abbott’s order limiting counties to one drop off location.
Republican Activists Protest at the Governors Mansion
On Saturday, a large group of Republican activitists staged a protest in front of the Governors Mansion, demonstrating their disapproval of Gov. Abbott’s handling of the pandemic. Among those present and vocal at the gathering were state Republican Party Chairman Allen West and current Republican state Agricluture Commissioner Sid Miller. The group criticized Abbott’s orders as overbearing, self serving, and a violation of state law. Among the actions and directives handed out by Abbott as the reason for the group’s dismay were the continued economic restrictions and the ongoing statewide mask mandate. The State Republican Executive Committee has also passed a resolution calling on the Governor to fully reopen the state, with no restrictions in place.
The embarrassing and ever developing saga of Attorney General Ken Paxton continues. Several senior staff members at the agency brought forth criminal allegations against Paxton last week, accusing him of abusing the powers of his office to assist a donor in legal and financial matters. The donor, Nate Paul, is an Austin real estate developer. Paul had his office raided last year by federal and state authorities, and news accounts over the weekend have detailed how Paxton used his office, and even hired outside counsel – at taxpayer expense – to investigate why Paul was under scrutiny. Reports go on to claim that the Paxton directed investigation went much farther than a simple examination of the initial raid of the offices and home of Paul, but extended into harassment and investigations of business adversaries of Paul. Paxton continues to deny any wrongdoing, saying the allegations are from a group of disgruntled employees at the agency.
Paxton announced on Friday that he was halting the investigation on behalf of Nate Paul into possible wrongdoing by those investigating Paul. And in a bizarre development, Paul is now threatening legal action against Paxton and the Attorney General’s office for closing the investigation. This controversy surrounding the sitting state Attorney General continues, as do calls for Paxton’s resignation.
On Friday night, Republican incumbent US Senator John Cornyn and Democratic nominee MJ Hegar held their only debate in conjuncition with this year’s election. Hegar called Cornyn out of touch, arguing that her combat experience and status as a working mother of two made her more able and qualified to represent the people of Texas. Cornyn countered with an argument that Hegar was a puppet of the Democratic establishment in Washington, DC, and that her views are too liberal for Texas.
Both candidates repeatedly espoused party directives, with continued back and forth on everyting from the response to the pandemic, the fight over Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett, ideas and impressions on law enforcement, and issues surrounding the energy industry. The overriding theme seemed to be Hegar emphasizing that she will no longer further the “politics as usual” theme she claims Cornyn engages in, while Cornyn constantly tried to tie Hegar with the liberal establishment that he says most Texans have continually rejected.
Cornyn has consistently led in the polls, but there are some polls that show the race tightening. A poll by Civiqs released last week showing Hegar within one percentage point of Cornyn. Conversely, a poll issued late last week by the Texas Tribune and the University of Texas showed Cornyn with an 8 point lead.
There are 21 days unitl the November 3rd election and 91days to the start of the Texas legsislative session.