Case Counts/Testing in Texas – Wednesday, September 23rd (4:15 PM data)

Total Tests Performed – 6,207,487

Confirmed Cases – 719,599 (2,977 new cases)

Active Cases – 86,416

Hospitalizations – 3,195 (12,370 available beds, 1,233 available ICU beds)

Fatalities – 15,129 (135 new deaths)

Recovered Cases – 618,054

Inside the Numbers

Positivity rate as of Tuesday, September 22nd was 6.41%.  One month ago, there were 4,943 new cases reported, one week ago there were 3,518 new cases reported, compared to the 2,977 reported yesterday.  The 3,195 COVID patients in hospitals now are 54 less than one week ago, and COVID patients make up 5.6% of total hospital beds in the state.

Beta Causes Flooding, Moves out of the State

Tropical Storm Beta dumped inches of rain on coastal areas near Matagorda, Galveston and Surfside, as expected.  But there was also significant flooding inland that was caused by the storm’s very slow trek across the Houston area and southeast Texas.  Some areas in and around Houston received as much as 14 inches of rain.  Hardest hit areas were south of Loop 610, such as Pearland and Friendswood.  Houston city officials said that they responded to over 100 water rescue calls Monday and Tuesday, as water flooded streets and made them impassible in many parts of the city.  But overall, structural damage was minimal, as the storm was a rain event, with very little wind damage.  The storm has moved through the region and is now making its way across Louisiana headed towards Mississippi.  Hurricane season lasts until December 1st.

Texas Adds Voters

The deadline to register to vote in Texas is Monday, October 5th.  With the current state of the nation and world, there is no doubt greater interest in this year’s election than has been seen in many cycles.  Yesterday, Texas Secretary of State Ruth Hughs announced that Texas has added an additional 1.5 million voters to the rolls since the 2016 Presidential election.  Texas now has just over 16.6 million registered voters, out of its estimated 27 million total population.  With voter registration still available for two more weeks, Hughs says there is a possibility that thousands of more voters can still be added.  The 1.5 million additional voters shatters previous marks for voter registration. In the previous 4 Presidential election cycles, the state added an average of 700,000 voters per four year period. 

This fast growth in voters adds more uncertainty to an already unpredictable election cycle.  Since these voters are new, there is no way to determine their philosophy or contact them to participate in pre-election polls.  Campaigns on both sides of the spectrum are curious about whether these new voters will continue or even hasten the partisan shift in the political landscape in the state. 

Republicans Sue Abbott Over Early Voting Extension

Several high profile Republican officials – including the State Republican Party Chair – have sued Governor Abbott, saying he overstepped his authority when he extended the state’s early voting period by one week.  State law dictates that the early voting period can begin 17 days before the general election.  Under normal circumstances, that would mean that the two week early voting period in Texas would run from Monday, October 19th until Friday, October 30th.  Due to concerns over the safety of voting in person, in July, Abbott moved up and extended the early voting period to start on Tuesday, October 13th

The plaintiffs argue in this lawsuit, filed directly with the Texas Supreme Court, that Abbott has no legal authority to extend the early voting period, and ask the Court to block the extension.  Joining Texas Republican Party Chairman Allen West in the lawsuit are current Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller, Galveston County Judge Mark Henry, two Republican members of the state Senate and four Republican members of the Texas House.

Bullet Train Gets Approval

The high speed train that promises to transport passengers from Houston to Dallas in 90 minutes has received federal approval.  Texas Central Railroad, the company building and operating the project, announced they received the approval from the US Department of Transportation.   The Department had been conducting environmental and regulatory assessments for the past several years.  Opposition to the project had come mainly from landowners and residents in the planned path of the project.  Now that final approval has been given, construction will begin in early 2021, and will last six years, with a cost of $20 billion.  The train will be able to travel at speeds of over 200 MPH.

There are now 40 days until the November 3rd election and 110 days until the start of the Texas legislative session.