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

Total Tests Performed – 8,507,185

Confirmed Cases – 862,375  (3,793 new cases)

Active Cases – 91,885

Hospitalizations – 5,206 (12,718 available beds, 1,118 available ICU beds)

Fatalities – 17,504 (48 new deaths)

Recovered Cases – 755,095

Inside the Numbers

Positivity rate as of Saturday, October 24th  was 9.07%.  One month ago, there were 3,283 new cases reported, one week ago there were 4,856 new cases reported, compared to the 3,793 reported yesterday.  The 7 day average has increased by 541 cases.  The 5,206 COVID patients in hospitals now are 980 more than one week ago, and COVID patients make up 8% of total hospital beds in the state.

Early Voting Continues

This is the final week of early voting.  Locations will be available until 7PM this Friday.  Through Saturday, nearly 7.2 million Texans have already cast their ballot, which represents 42.4% of all registered voters in the state.  The number of votes cast so far is nearly 81% of the total number of votes cast in the 2016 Presidential election, including Election Day.

Many predict the enthusiasm will continue through election day, with a predicted turnout as high as 12 million in the state.  For comparison, in 2016, slightly more than 8.9 million Texans cast a ballot.  In 2018, with the hotly contest race for US Senate between Ted Cruz and Beto O’Rourke, roughly 8.3 million people went to the polls in the state.  Nationally, more than 58 million have already voted, according to the Associated Press.  

More Polls Released

At least three new polls of Texas voters have been released over the weekend, with varying results. The Dallas Morning News/UT Tyler poll released yesterday shows Biden with a 3 point lead in Texas over Trump, 48% to 45% A poll released by this group in September showed Trump leading by 2 points. The DMN/UT Tyler poll also shows MJ Hegar cutting slightly into Senator Cornyn’s lead, with Cornyn leading 42% to 34%. What is interesting about this is the poll shows 18% undecided with 8 days to go before the election. This poll sampled 925 likely voters from October 13th to 20th with a margin of error of 3.2%.

The University of Houston Hobby School of Public Affairs also released a poll yesterday. This poll shows Trump leading Biden by 5 points, 50% to 45%. Cornyn leads Hegar 49% to 42% in this same poll. The UH poll was conducted by YouGov from October 13 to 20th as well and polled 1,000 registered voters with a margin of error of 3.1%.  Since registered, and not likely voters were polled, the results may not be as reliable.

Finally, Data For Progress conducted a poll of 1,108 likely Texas voters from October 22nd to 25th.  This poll found Biden leading Trump by 2 points, 48% to 46%.  The same poll also showed a much closer race for US Senate, with Cornyn only leading MJ Hegar by 2 points, 48% to 46%  The margin of error is 3.1%.  

First Member Files for Speaker

No matter what the outcome of the elections, the Texas House will have a new Speaker in 2021.  Current Speaker Dennis Bonnen (R, Angleton) is not seeking reelection to the House.  On Friday, state Representative Senfronia Thompson, a Democrat from Houston, became the first member to formally file for Speaker.  Thompson, along with the current House Democrats, are fighting to take over control of the Texas House for the first time since 2002.  The party that gains control of the House will almost certainly elect one of their own to preside.

Thompson, an attorney in Houston, was first elected in 1972, and currently serves as the Chairwoman of the House Public Health Committee.  She has also served as Chair of the House Judicial Affairs Committee and the House Local and Consent Calendars Committee.  If elected Speaker, she would become the first African American woman to serve as Speaker.  Even though Thompson is the first to formally declare for Speaker, there are several members on both sides of the aisle that have been rumored to have interest in the job.  Once the partisan makeup of the House is determined after the elections next week, several members will likely compete for the job.

Trump Will Not Come to Texas Before Election, Harris ot Visit on Friday

Making campaign stops in the state on behalf of the Trump campaign over the weekend, former Texas Governor Rick Perry told reporters that President Trump will not visit here prior to next Tuesday.  In his remarks, Perry declared that Texas is not a battleground state, and that the President will concentrate on the true battleground states ahead of the election, such as Pennsylvania, Florida, North Carolina, Ohio, and others.

In an email sent to Democratic lawmakers yesterday, the Biden campaign said that Biden’s running mate, US Senator Kamala Harris of California, will visit the state on Friday.  The email gave no details of exactly where she will be campaigning, but the rumor mill has her attending events in Houston at some point during the day.  The Biden campaign has ramped up its effort in Texas recently, hiring more campaign staff and launching a multi million dollar digital campaign ad in the state.

Infections and Hospitalizations Continue to Rise

Outbreaks in the state have led to a rise in case numbers not seen since August.  As reported above, the 7 day average for new cases, hospitalizations, and the positivity rate all continue to rise.  El Paso continues to be the hot spot.  County officials reported over the weekend that there are currently over 11,000 active cases in the region.  Hospitalizations in the area have also spiked from 259 to 786 in the last three weeks.  

In response, city officials have asked residents to stay in their homes from 10 PM to 5 AM daily, except for essential workers.  The city has also instituted a mandatory mask order, carrying a fine of $250 for non compliance.  The city is also in the process of setting up beds and medical treatment equipment in the convention center to try and help alleviate some of the pressure on the local hospital system.  Gov. Abbott and city officials on Saturday made a request that the Army Medical Center at Fort Bliss also be made available to non COVID patients.  

There are 8 days until the November 3rd election and 78 days to the start of the Texas legislative session.