Case Counts/Testing in Texas – Wednesday, September 15th (3:30 PM data)
Confirmed Cases – 3,236,353 (20,201 new cases)
Hospitalizations – 12,817 (7,267 available beds, 322 available ICU beds)
Fatalities – 59,608 (411 new deaths)
Vaccine Data – Wednesday, September 15th (1:00 PM data)
Doses Shipped by state – 23,916,300
People vaccinated – 16,883,605
People fully vaccinated – 14,279,021
Total doses administered – 29,986,353
Inside the Numbers
Positivity rate as of Wednesday, September 15th was 14.72%. One month ago, there were 5,300 new cases reported, one week ago there were 25,200 new cases reported, compared to the 20,201 reported yesterday. The 12,817 COVID patients in hospitals now is 703 less patients compared to one week ago, and COVID patients make up 19.6% of total hospital beds in the state.
Over the last week, an average of 74,309 doses have been administered each day in the state. As of Wednesday, September 15th 49% of Texans have been fully vaccinated.
Hurricane Nicholas Crashes into Gulf Coast
On Monday night, Tropical Storm Nicholas intensified into a hurricane in the western Gulf of Mexico before making landfall along the middle of Texas’ coast during the early morning hours on Tuesday. The storm cut power to more than half a million customers as it’s wind gusts of over 90 mph crashed into the coastal shore. Despite the wind, forecasters are most fearful of the heavy rain the storm has brought to Texas and southern Louisiana. These rains are expected to dump at least 10 inches, putting these areas at a serious risk of flooding.
Initially, it was predicted that Houston – an area particularly vulnerable to flooding – would be receiving a detrimental amount of rainfall. Fortunately, on Monday the storm appeared to shift to a coastal rather than inland track. As the storm intensified on Monday, Gov. Abbott issued an anticipatory disaster declaration for 17 counties.
Paxton Filed Suit Against 9 More School Districts for Their Mask Mandates
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton has filed suit against 9 more school districts on Wednesday for their mask mandates. This brings Paxton’s grand total to 15 districts, one of which says it doesn’t even require face coverings. A spokesperson for Midway Independent School District – a district claiming they do not require masks – said in an email, “we have not received information of why or how we are considered out of compliance or considered for a lawsuit.” Their efforts to convince Paxton that they are indeed not mandating masks has been to no avail.
The Midway school district is one of nine that Paxton recently added to his suit. Paxton has decided to sue these districts for allegedly defying Abbott’s executive order banning public schools and local governments from enacting local mask mandates. Under Midway’s virus protocol, campuses can issue 10-day “mask directives” that encourage mask-wearing on the premises if virus transmission reaches a certain level. Notably, this directive is not a requirement. The attorney general’s office pointed to that protocol as the basis of its lawsuit against the district.
In addition to Midway, Paxton announced lawsuits against seven other districts Tuesday: McGregor, Diboll, Honey Grove, La Vega, Longview, Lufkin, Paris and Waco school districts. Last week, Paxton sued six districts — the first time he had done so since the dispute between the state’s Republican leadership and local officials began in August.
Earlier this week, Paxton’s office tweeted, “there will be more to come as lawlessness continues across the state.”
2 Dems – Sens. Eckhardt, Gutierrez have Filed Suit to Stop the State from Taking Up Redistricting in Special Session
Thanks to the latest U.S. Census data, Texas will soon add two new congressional seats to its roster. To redraw Texas’ boundaries, in part, to compensate for the two new seats, Gov. Greg Abbott wants to convene another special legislative session.
Two local Democrats are suing to halt Abbott’s effort. Senators Sarah Eckhardt and Roland Gutierrez filed a lawsuit earlier this month asking a court to draw temporary political maps, maintaining this can’t be done during a special session.
“We simply just want Republicans to follow the law,” said State Sen. Roland Gutierrez, adding the interpretation of the Texas Constitution is simple. “Because we have some seats that are malapportioned, we are asking the federal courts to come in place and do redistricting that is fair, rational and non-discriminatory,” Gutierrez said.
The Texas Redistricting website states if state districts aren’t enacted during the first regular session, it can be done by the state’s legislative redistricting board. The five-member board is comprised of the lieutenant governor, speaker of the house, attorney general, comptroller of public accounts and the land commissioner. All positions are held by Republicans, but Gutierrez denies this is a partisan issue.
“This isn’t about one party staying in power. I simply want us to be able to follow the law and make sure that each person that has a vote. One person, one vote means something and that’s what we want this court to stipulate,” Gutierrez said.
Federal Judge to Hear Texas’ Arguments Against Temporarily Blocking Abortion Ban Before Ruling on Biden Administration Request
Following an emergency request from the Biden administration, a federal judge on Wednesday scheduled a hearing for Oct. 1 to consider temporarily blocking Texas’ near-total abortion ban. At the Biden administration’s entreat, the Justice Department requested the temporary restraining order late Tuesday as part of its lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas aiming to overturn the law.
Instead of immediately acting on the request, U.S. District Judge Robert L. Pitman agreed to the state’s request to hear arguments before ruling. If the restraining order is granted, the law’s implementation will be blocked as court proceedings unfold.
Political Quick Hits
State Representative Matt Krause, a Republican from Fort Worth and member of the ultra-conservative House Freedom Caucus, announced today that he will seek the Republican nomination for Attorney General. He is the third major candidate to challenge incumbent Ken Paxton in the primary race. Land Commissioner George P. Bush and former state Supreme Court Justice Eva Guzman are already announced candidates. Krause says he is entering the race because he feels the numerous legal and personal troubles that Paxton has faced over the last few years has caused him to lose focus on the job.
There will be two elections to fill vacancies in the Texas House on September 28th. First, in San Antonio, five candidates have filed to seek to fill the seat of former state Rep. Leo Pacheco, who resigned last month to take a teaching job at a community college in San Antonio. Three Democrats and two Republicans have filed for the Democratic leaning seat, that encompasses much of south and eastern Bexar County.
The other election is a runoff for House District 10, based in Waxahachie and Ennis, south of Dallas, to replace former state Rep. Jake Ellzey, who was elected to Congress in July. The two candidates, both Republicans, were the top two vote getters in the initial election last month.
The Third Called Session begins on Monday, September 20th. The main focus will be on the redistricting process, but Gov. Abbott has added four other issues to the call of the session. Also under consideration will be the appropriation of federal COVID relief funds, authorization by state and local governments of vaccine mandates, the participation of transgender athletes in school sports, and the legal restraint of dogs. Both chambers will gavel in at 10AM Monday morning.