Case Counts/Testing in Texas   Monday, Sept 7th (3:30 PM data)

Total Tests Performed — 5,753,842

Confirmed Cases — 640,370 (2,057 new cases)

Active Cases —81,426

Hospitalizations — 3,537 (13,603  available beds, 1,368 available ICU beds)

Fatalities — 13,492 (20 new deaths)

Recovered Cases — 543,412

Inside the Numbers

Positivity rate as of Sunday, Sept 6th was 7.24%.  One month ago, there were 7,039 new cases reported, one week ago there were 4,116 new cases reported, compared to the 2,057 reported yesterday.  The 3,537 COVID patients in hospitals now are 667 less than one week ago, and COVID patients make up 6.5% of total hospital beds in the state.

First Day of School Much Different This Year

Many of the state’s biggest urban and suburban districts return for their first day of in-person instruction today with a great deal of anxiety mingled with that excitement. There are also many districts that will not yet have students on campus.  Some of the state’s biggest districts, including Austin, Houston and Dallas independent school districts, will not open their classrooms for in-person learning until late September or October, and they may even ask the state for more time depending on the status of the virus outbreak.

In-person instruction will look very different from campus to campus. Some districts will bring students back in phases, starting with those who most need in-person education, like students with disabilities or those not proficient in  English. In San Antonio’s North East ISD, no more than five students will be in each classroom this week. Other districts are welcoming back all students who opted for in-person instruction at the same time.

Most teachers will be simultaneously instructing 12 to 16 students in their classrooms and more at home tuning in from cellphones or laptops. Some teachers will sit in empty classrooms and broadcast lessons to 20 or 30 students. A small number of teachers who have health conditions or young children received waivers to teach virtually from their homes.

According to a survey conducted by Austin ISD only about 42% of students have decided to attend school in person.

Health precautions vary among districts and schools. Under Gov. Greg Abbott’s order, everyone over the age of 10 must wear a mask. But guidance from the Texas Education Agency leaves districts largely on their own to design protections against a virus that spreads undetected in as many as 40% of those who have it. In many districts, maintaining 6 feet of distance among students will simply not be possible.

Gov. Greg Abbott Considers Legislation to Place Austin Police Under State Control

Gov. Greg Abbott is considering a legislative proposal that, if passed, would put the control of the Austin Police Department under state authority.

Texas’ governor tweeted Thursday that he was looking at a strategy that would stop city officials’ efforts to shift resources away from police departments and into other social services. Austin became the first Texas city to approve cutting its police budget last month as calls rise to “defund police” during a revived movement against police brutality and racial injustice.

The potential legislation, sent last week to Abbott by former Texas House members and parliamentarians Terry Keel and Ron Wilson, would allow for a city with a population over 1 million and less than two police officers per 1,000 residents — a bucket Austin falls into — to have its police force consolidated with the Texas Department of Public Safety. The state’s law enforcement branch would take over the local police department and form a new entity if the governor decided there were “insufficient municipal resources being appropriated for public safety needs,” according to a copy of the letter obtained by The Texas Tribune.

Dallas Leads the Nation in Employees Returning to Office Environment

Kastle Systems, a Virginia based company that provides on site and other security measures for large office buildings throughout the country, issued a report that looked at the 10 largest metropolitan areas in the country regarding office occupancy.  Nationwide, only about 23% of businesses operating in an office environment have fully reopened.  Dallas leads the nation with 36% of these type businesses reopened.  This is three times the rate of New York City, which sits at the bottom of the list of reopenings 11%.

Austin sits at a rate of 30% and Houston has a rate of 23%.  Other interesting notes from the study found that 63% of workers say they are more likely to want to work at home moving forward.

Student Athletes Get COVID-19 Tests Three Times a week, Testing for Other University Students is Lagging

Athletics officials at Texas universities spent months planning for a fall football season during a pandemic. As conferences deliberated how teams could safely compete in the age of coronavirus, proponents hoped enhanced coronavirus testing for athletes would ease any lingering doubts.

It worked. Within the month, five major Texas football programs are slated to play. In football and other high contact sports like soccer and volleyball, athletes will be tested three times a week, according to directives from the Big 12 Conference and Southeastern Conference.

Conference and school officials say enhanced testing for sports is necessary to protect athletes, support staff and the teams they compete against. It’s an impressive regimen, public health experts agree. But that same level of testing is not available to other Texas college students — even those living in high-risk settings like dorms.

Public health experts say schools need to dramatically ramp up testing in order to catch “silent spread” fueled by students who are infected but don’t have symptoms