Case Counts/Testing in Texas – Thursday, September 30th (3:35 PM data)
Confirmed Cases – 3,377,737 (8,285 new cases)
Hospitalizations – 9,005 (8,162 available beds, 476 available ICU beds)
Fatalities – 63,976 (350 new deaths)
Vaccine Data – Thursday, September 30th (12:30 PM data)
Total doses administered – 31,376,151
People vaccinated – 17,258,676
People fully vaccinated – 14,827,962
Doses Shipped by state – 24,537,140
Inside the Numbers
Positivity rate as of Thursday, September 30th was 11.37%. One month ago, there were 8,400 new cases reported, one week ago there were 8,100 new cases reported, compared to the 8,285 reported yesterday. The 9,005 COVID patients in hospitals now is 2,108 less patients compared to one week ago, and COVID patients make up 13.6% of total hospital beds in the state.
Over the last week, an average of 62,389 doses have been administered each day in the state. As of Thursday, September 30th 50.9% of Texans have been fully vaccinated.
New Map Released for Texas House
On Thursday, Texas House members released their first draft of a new map redrawing the chamber’s 150-member districts. Similar to other proposals for Congress and the state Senate released by the legislature, the House’s initial draft both provides incumbents and Republicans with a great advantage throughout the state and decreases the number of Black and Hispanic majority districts. Under the current House map, 76 districts went for Donald Trump in the 2020 election. Under the new proposal, 86 of these proposed districts would have voted for Trump.
The GOP chair of the House Redistricting Committee, Rep. Todd Hunter, authored House Bill 1. It is notable to remember that the map is just the first draft and will almost certainly change as it makes its way through the legislative process before inevitably being signed into law by Gov. Greg Abbott.
This Special Session, the third this year, is dedicated to redrawing political maps based on the latest census data that showed people of color fueled 95% of Texas’ population growth over the past decade. The percent of Hispanics is now nearly equal to white people in Texas. Despite this, the new map creates fewer districts where Black and Hispanic people make up a majority of eligible voters.
Special Elections — Harrison Wins; Runoff in San Antonio
Brian Harrison, a former Trump administration official defeated fellow Republican John Wray on Tuesday in the fierce special election runoff for Wray’s old seat in the Texas House. Harrison beat Wray by a whopping 10 percentage points, with all vote centers reporting. Harrison was getting 55% of the vote, while Wray had 45%. Wray held the seat for three terms before passing on a reelection bid last year.
Republican John Lujan and Democrat Frank Ramirez advanced to a special election runoff to fill the seat of former state Rep. Leo Pacheco, D-San Antonio. The seat has been long sought after by the GOP as a district to flip as the party seeks to expand its influence into South Texas.
Lujan received 42% of the vote while Ramirez received 20%, with all vote centers reporting. Democrat Desi Martinez, a lawyer, was in third with 18%. Following behind Martinez was Democrat Katie Farias, a local school board member, at 12%. Adam Salyer, the other Republican running, finished last at 9%.
Abbott Adds Another Item to Call
Just last month, Gov. Abbott signed into law a massive voting restriction and reform bill, declaring the bill set a comprehensive standard for election procedures in the state. Now, however, he has reversed course on a particular section of the bill signed recently. SB 1, the omnibus election bill, lowered the maximum punishment for illegal voting from a second degree felony to a Class A misdemeanor. Yesterday, Abbott added to the list of items under consideration for this special session any legislation that would reverse that portion of SB 1. This comes one day after former President Trump again renewed his push for Abbott to add forensic audits of the 2020 election to the call of the special session.
Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick immediately praised Abbott for this addition to the call, saying the Senate would move swiftly to pass the legislation. Speaker Phelan issued a statement saying the House was solely focused on the redistricting process. He went on to say that since SB 1 was passed by the House and Senate, approved by the Governor, and fully reviewed by the Attorney General, now was not the time to relitigate certain sections of the bill.
ABC News Commentator to Challenge Lt. Governor Patrick
Former ABC political analyst/consultant, Matthew Dowd is launching a Democratic campaign for lieutenant governor. Dowd, a native of Detroit, Michigan, launched his political career working for several members of Congress, including former US Senator Lloyd Bentsen of Texas. He also worked on the campaign of former Texas Lt. Governor Bob Bullock before becoming a chief strategist for George W. Bush’s 2004 Presidential campaign. Dowd has never been a full time Texas resident, but does own property in Wimberly, which he will claim as his residence during his campaign.
Dowd will run as a Democrat, challenging the conservative leader of the state Senate Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick. Dowd claims he was encouraged to run by supporters who believe Patrick has pushed Texas further to the right during his tenure as the state’s second-in-command.
“The GOP politicians have failed us, especially the cruel and craven lieutenant governor,” Dowd said in a searing video announcing his candidacy. “Dan Patrick has been lying and deceiving, fracturing the bonds we share and endangering all our lives. He does not believe in the common good. He seeks only to represent himself and the 5 percent of the state that goes along with all of this.”
Judge Orders Release of Over 200 Migrants
Texas will be forced to release close to 250 migrants who were arrested under Gov. Greg Abbott’s “catch and jail” border security policy. The migrants have been held in prison for more than a month without being charged with any crimes.
A state district judge granted a motion to release the men on no-cost bonds Tuesday morning after defense attorneys challenged the continued imprisonment of hundreds of migrants. The attorneys cited widespread violations of state law and constitutional rights to due process. Texas law requires criminal defendants be released from jail on no-cost or affordable bond if prosecutors delay cases by not filing charges quickly. For trespassing, the charge on which the vast majority of the migrants were arrested, that deadline is set at 15 or 30 days, depending on the charge level.
What comes after release is uncertain for these men. Federal immigration authorities could choose to take them into custody or deport them. Authorities could also choose to release them into the United States while awaiting their criminal and potential immigration proceedings.
The House and Senate are both adjourned until Monday. The House will hold committee hearings on their proposed state House map beginning on Monday, and the Senate Redistricting committee will continue meetings on the proposed Congressional map