Case Counts/Testing in Texas – Thursday, October 29th   (4:05 PM data)

Total Tests Performed – 8,782,931

Confirmed Cases – 886,820 (6,430 new cases)

Active Cases – 98,775

Hospitalizations – 5,587 (12,668 available beds, 1,078 available ICU beds)

Fatalities – 17,819 (119 new deaths)

Recovered Cases – 772,350

Inside the Numbers

Positivity rate as of Wednesday, October 28th  was 9.77%.  One month ago, there were 5,335 new cases reported, one week ago there were 5,760 new cases reported, compared to the 6,430 reported yesterday.  The 7 day average has increased by 1,059 cases.  The 5,587 COVID patients in hospitals now are 656 more than one week ago, and COVID patients make up 8.4% of total hospital beds in the state.

Early Voting Continues to Break Records

The number of voters who have cast ballots so far in Texas during this early voting period now exceeds the total number of people who voted in the last Presidential election in 2016.  Through Thursday, according to numbers compiled by the Secretary of State, a total of 9,009,850 people have voted.  That translates to 53% of the registered voters in the state.  Today is the last day of early voting.

Out of that 9 million total so far, a little more than 6 million people have voted in the state’s 15 most populous counties.  If you include the 30 most populous counties, nearly 1 in 6 voters has not voted in any of the last four primary or general elections, which translates to nearly 1 million new votes, and that is with a day of early voting and the general election day still to go.  Many analysts on both sides of the political spectrum predict that the total turnout for this election could exceed 12 million.  That compares to 8.9 million total turnout in 2016 and 8.3 million two years ago.

El Paso Officials Order Shutdown

El Paso County officials yesterday ordered a two week shutdown of all non-essential activities after the region and its medical resources have become overwhelmed with the number of new COVID cases and related hospitalizations.  For the past several days, the region has seen new daily case counts exceed 1,000, and 44% of the people in area hospitals are being treated for COVID issues.  The state average for COVID related hospitalizations is 8.4%.  Non-essential businesses activities were order to be closed by midnight last night, and they include nail and hair salons, gyms, and in person dining establishments.  Grocery stores, funeral homes, and health care services will remain open.

Attorney General Ken Paxton immediately weighed in on twitter saying that the El Paso County Judge has no authority to order a shutdown, and said his office is exploring all legal options to lift the restrictions.  Gov. Abbott had no comment other than to defer to Paxton for guidance on the state’s position.

Five More Enter Race for Texas House Speaker

In an unprecedented day of activity for the Speaker’s race, five members of the Texas House declared their intention to run for the job when the legislature convenes in January.  Rep. Oscar Longoria of Mission was the only Democrat to enter the race yesterday, joining four Republicans in seeking the Speaker’s job.  The Republicans entering the race yesterday are John Cyrier of Lockhart; Geanie Morrison of Victoria; Chris Paddie of Marshall; and Trent Ashby of Lufkin.

Incumbent Speaker Dennis Bonnen of Angleton is not seeking reelection to the House.  The Republicans currently enjoy an 83-67 partisan advantage in the House, but the Democrats are making a strong push to take over control of the chamber for the first time since 2002.  Democrats Senfronia Thompson of Houston and Trey Martinez Fischer of San Antonio have already filed for Speaker.  In addition to the new entrants yesterday, the only other news was from Rep. Thompson, who announced the full support of the Legislative Black Caucus for her bid.

And now, as this is being written, Rep, John Cyrier has dropped out of the race and thrown his support to Rep. Morrison.  More developments to come…

Abbott Orders National Guard Troops on Election Day

Saying help is needed to ensure cities will be safe on Election Day (and night), Gov. Abbott has ordered 1,000 National Guard troops to be sent to Austin, San Antonio, Dallas, Fort Worth, and Houston to assist law enforcement with possible disturbances that could occur when election results start coming in.  Abbott said the intent of the troops is not to be at the polling places, but to protect public sites such as the Alamo and state Capitol, in the event riots break out.  

Kamala Harris Visiting Texas Today

Vice-Presidential nominee Kamala Harris is visiting Texas today.  She is set to visit McAllen in the Rio Grande Valley, and also make stops in Fort Worth and Houston.  Harris is the highest ranking and highest profile member of the Biden campaign team to visit Texas during this cycle.  A Democrat has not carried Texas in a Presidential race since 1976.  Recent polls have shown the race as a toss up here in Texas.  The most recent poll from UMass-Lowell/YouGov, released yesterday, gives President Trump a one point advantage over Biden, 48% to 47%.  The Trump campaign has declared Texas not to be a battleground state, and will not spend any time here prior to Tuesday.

Democratic US Senate candidate MJ Hegar will accompany Senator Harris to all three events on today’s schedule.  The same UMass-Lowell poll shows her closing the gap on Cornyn.  The poll shows Cornyn leading 49% to 44%.  Cornyn will spend the next two days on a bus tour of the state, hitting mostly mid-size cites such as Plano, Wichita Falls, Abilene, and others.  

There are 4 days until the November 3rd election and 74 days to the start of the Texas legislative session.