Case Counts/Testing in Texas   Sunday, Sept 27th   (2:55 PM data)

Total Tests Performed — 6,500,009

Confirmed Cases — 735,132 (1,292 new cases)

Active Cases —67,234

Hospitalizations — 3,217 (13,256 available beds, 1,291 available ICU beds)

Fatalities — 15,522 (37 new deaths)

Recovered Cases — 652,376

Inside the Numbers

Positivity rate as of Friday, September 26th, was 6.15%.  One month ago, there were 5,059 new cases reported, one week ago there were 2,241 new cases reported, compared to the 2,241 reported yesterday.  The 3,217 COVID patients in hospitals now are 136 more than one week ago, and COVID patients make up 5.6% of total hospital beds in the state.

Voting/Election News

The last day to register to vote is next Monday, October 5th.  To be eligible to vote in the November 3rd election, your application must be filled out by Monday.  To check and see if you are registered, or to get an application to register, go to the Texas Secretary of State website:  Applications can also be found at any post office, state government agency office, and high schools.

And speaking of the election, on Friday, a federal judge ordered the state to allow straight ticket voting for this November election.  In 2019, the legislature passed a law eliminating the place on the ballot that allowed voters to select all the nominees from one party.  The ruling from a federal judge in Laredo stated that the state law ending the practice of straight ticket voting will endanger voters during the pandemic by causing longer lines and wait times.  Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said he plans to immediately appeal this ruling.  Paxton defends his decision to appeal the ruling by saying that 43 other states have outlawed straight ticket voting, and the extra week of early voting should offset wait times. 

To put things in perspective about the significance of straight ticket voting, in the 2018 November election, roughly 5.7 million of the nearly 9 million total Texas voters in the election used the straight ticket option.  That is roughly 2/3rds of all ballots cast. 

State Jobless Claims Continue to Fall

First time claims for unemployment benefits continue to decline in Texas.  For the second week in a row, the new claims remained below 50,000.  The 47,500 Texans that applied for first time unemployment benefits was down by nearly 2,000 from the week before.  This also continues a trend that has been in place since July, when a spike in infections drove claims to roughly 100,000 per week.  The Texas unemployment rate remains at roughly 6.8%, which is below the national average of 8.4%.

Bar Owners Still Outraged at Having to Remain Closed

One segment of the economy that is not in recovery is the bar and nightclub industry.  They watched in disbelief last week as Gov. Abbott allowed most businesses expand to 75% capacity while requiring bars to remain closed.  The Texas Bar and Nightclub Owners Association has sent a plan to Gov Abbott to allow them to reopen, but Abbott has never responded to their offers.  The plan would require patrons to be seated, wear face coverings, barring of dancing, and temperature checks upon entry.  Currently, establishments that derive at least 51% of their income from the sale of alcoholic beverages must remain closed unless they provide food service to their customers during the entire time the business is open.  Many bars do not have the ability to do that, and the industry claim is that at least 30% of bars in the state will be permanently closed in the next six months.

Latest Polling Numbers

You will probably see a new poll just about every day between now and the election.  The spin doctors and talking heads will be in full force after tomorrow night’s Presidential debate in Cleveland.  The Real Clear Politics polling average shows Biden with a  5 point lead nationally over President Trump.  

Closer to home, the most recent poll done regarding the voting preference for Texas voters was done by Data for Progress and released over the weekend.  That poll shows President Trump leading Biden by 1 point in the state, 46% to 45%.  In the US Senate race, incumbent Republican John Cornyn leads Democrat MJ Hegar by just 2 points, at 40% to 38%.  What is interesting about this is that a whopping 22% of the voters are still undecided about their choice in the Senate race.  That should raise concerns for the three-term incumbent. 

There are now 36 days until the November 3rd election and 106 days until the start of the Texas legislative session.