Case Counts/Testing in Texas – Tuesday, October 27th   (3:35 PM data)

Total Tests Performed – 8,642,696

Confirmed Cases – 874,367 (7,055 new cases)

Active Cases – 95,784

Hospitalizations – 5,512 (13,899 available beds, 1,262 available ICU beds)

Fatalities – 17,595 (81 new deaths)

Recovered Cases – 763,108

Inside the Numbers

Positivity rate as of Monday, October 26th  was 9.42%.  One month ago, there were 1,397 new cases reported, one week ago there were 4,991 new cases reported, compared to the 7,055 reported yesterday.  The 7 day average has increased by 1,206 cases.  The 5,512 COVID patients in hospitals now are 924 more than one week ago, and COVID patients make up 8.5% of total hospital beds in the state.

Early Voting Continues to Break Records

This is the final week of early voting.  Locations throughout most of the state will be available until 7PM this Friday.  Through Monday, 7.8 million Texans had cast a ballot, which is 46% of all registered voters.  The total number of votes cast in the entire 2016 Presidential election was 8.9 million in Texas.  In 2016, 6.6 million voted early.  The percentage of the electorate in Texas that has no voting history continues to climb.  That segment now accounts for 15% of all ballots that have been cast so far.  

Denton County, north of the DFW Metroplex and Hays County, south of Austin, have seen the largest increase in voter turnout.  Both counties have seen increases of over 40% in early voter turnout as compared to 2016.  Several large urban counties such as Bexar, Harris, Dallas, and Travis have also seen substantial increases in early voter turnout when compared to the last Presidential election year.  To accommodate the anticipated rush of voters wanting to take advantage of the last 3 days of early voting, Harris County will allow all early voting polling sites to remain open until 10PM from today through Friday.  

Case Counts and Hospitalizations Reach Highest Since August

Widespread pandemic fatigue is what state officials are blaming the latest surge in numbers here in Texas and nationwide.  Hospitalizations, which is a key indicator of the spread of the virus, have been steadily rising since September.  On September 20th, statewide hospitalizations stood at 3,081 and the number of new cases reached a low point of 1,292 on September 27th.  The 7 day average of new cases has risen 45% since October 1st.  In Travis County, health officials are considering moving the county back into more restrictive guidelines.  The County Judge announced on Tuesday that the county’s bars would remain closed for at least another 2 weeks (Gov. Abbott has allowed each county judge to determine whether or not to allow bars to open in their jurisdictions).

Less Than Half of Workers Have Returned to Workplace

According to Kastle Systems, a company that provides security systems to commercial office properties, only 27% of workers nationwide have returned to their place of business.  In Texas, the DFW area leads with 43.3% of the employees having returned to work.  That is also the largest share of any metro area in the country.  Houston has seen 37% of its workers return. The national average is 27.4%.  San Francisco has only 14.7% of their worker population back in a workplace environment.  Many of the major employers indicated to Kastle Systems that they do not anticipate their workers to return to the office on any type of regular basis until at least June of 2021.

Another House Member Files for Speaker

In addition to the filing of state Representative Senfronia Thompson of Houston, the Democrats now have another candidate for Speaker.  Rep. Trey Martinez Fischer of San Antonio filed his paperwork on Monday afternoon. Martinez Fischer is a 20 year veteran of the House, and has a history of donating to his Democratic colleagues, and also is known among his colleagues as an expert on House rules and procedures.  

To boost her race, Rep. Thompson announced yesterday that she has received the support of all the Democratic members of the Texas House from Harris County.  The 15 other members that represent the greater Houston area in the House signed a letter yesterday to their colleagues announcing their unanimous support of Thompson, citing her long and distinguished career of accomplishments and admiration from both sides of the aisle.

George P. Bush Considers Race for Attorney General

George P. Bush, the state’s current Land Commissioner, is considering a run for Attorney General in 2022.  All major statewide offices – Governor, Lt. Governor, AG, Comptroller, etc.. – are up for election in 2022.  Incumbent AG Ken Paxton faces criminal and abuse of office allegations.  Paxton has been under felony indictment for 5 years for soliciting investors for  a securities firm without registering with the appropriate agencies.  He now faces allegations raised by his own staff of crimes related to an Austin real estate developer.  Paxton has already indicated that in spite of his alleged troubles, he plans to seek a 3rd term in 2022.

Bush is the grandson of former President George HW Bush and the son of former Florida Governor Jeb Bush.  He was first elected Land Commissioner in 2014 and reelected in 2018 as one of the highest performing Republicans on the ballot, receiving more votes in 2018 than the Governor and Lt. Governor.

Money Flows Into Races for Final Week

State candidates in contested races raised nearly $53.5 million during the last month to try and bolster their campaigns.  The 8 day out reports, which cover the period of September 25th to October 25th only, showed the tremendous amount of money being raised and spent in Texas for the last push to November 3rd.  The 2020 total of contributions raised is more than 6 times the amount raised during the same period in 2018.  

And the latest sign that the Democrats believe Texas is truly in play for their party, former candidate Michael Bloomberg announced yesterday that he would be spending $1 million a day in Texas on statewide advertising to help the Biden campaign.  Bloomberg’s Super PAC, Independence USA, has already committed $100 million worth of advertising in Florida, and now has committed $15 million to be split between Texas and Ohio.  The Bloomberg team claims that their review of polling numbers show that those three above mentioned states have shown Trump to be vulnerable.

There are 6 days until the November 3rd election and 76 days to the start of the Texas legislative session.