Case Counts/Testing in Texas — July 22nd (4:45 PM data)

Total Tests Performed — 3,104,148

Confirmed Cases — 351,618 (9,879 increase in new cases from previous day)

Active Cases — 151,955

Hospitalizations — 10,893 (45 additional hospitalizations)

Fatalities — 4,348 (197 new fatalities)

Recovered Cases — 195,315

Recent Poll Shows Abbott Approval Falling; Texans Thoughts on Other Issues

In the latest Quinnipiac poll released yesterday, Governor Abbott’s approval ratings have dropped significantly regarding his handling of the pandemic and overall approval ratings.  Regarding the handling of the pandemic, Texans now give Abbott an approval rating of 47%, and a disapproval rating of 48%.  The approval rating is down from a high of 56% when voters were polled in June regarding the pandemic.  At that time, 56% approved and 36% disapproved.  Additionally, Abbott’s overall job approval rating has decreased to 48%, with 44% disapproving.   In June, his overall performance numbers stood at 56% to 32%.
Inside the numbers show that 52% of voters think Abbott allowed the economy to reopen too early, and nearly 70% say Abbott should allow local jurisdictions to issue stay at home orders, something Abbott has consistently said he will not allow.  65% of Texans still believe the pandemic is still an issue that should be taken very seriously while 69% show concern about Texas running out of hospital beds.  One other interesting number is that 80% of voters agree with the requirement issued by Abbott to wear face masks in public.
In other numbers of interest, the poll still shows a tight race for President in Texas.  Trump and Biden are essentially tied, with Biden leading Trump 45% to 44%.  And in the race for US Senate, incumbent John Cornyn leads Democratic nominee MJ Hegar 48% to 37%.  

Restaurants Asking for Help

A bipartisan group of nearly 40 House and Senate members have written a letter to Governor Abbott asking him to revise one of his executive orders to clarify the definition of a restaurant.  In the order, a “restaurant” is defined as an establishment that has less than 51% of its gross receipts from the sale of alcoholic beverages.  If this threshold is not met, then the establishment must be closed.  According to the letter, there are thousands of restaurants in the state that have affordably priced food, but also sell higher priced wine and cocktails.  This confusion has led to the closing of over 1,500 restaurants and put 35,000 Texans out of work.  The members, on behalf of the Texas Restaurant Association, are simply asking that if an establishment has a permanent kitchen, that is operational during all hours that the business is open, then that establishment should be allowed to reopen, with appropriate heath and safety standards in place.  No word from the Governor’s office regarding their consideration of this request.

Additional Benefits to Expire

Due to inaction by Congress, many of the 2.9 million Texans that are unemployed due to the pandemic are about to lose the $600 weekly additional benefits that were authorized by Congress several weeks ago.  The benefits are due to expire on July 31st, and the US House has approved an extension of the benefits, but the US Senate has yet to take up consideration of the extension of the benefits.  Senator Ted Cruz has flatly said he opposes the extension of the $600 in benefits, while Senator Cornyn simply said he is in favor of unemployment benefits, but has not specifically addressed the additional $600 payments.  Republicans in Congress say the extra $600 is a disincentive to seeking employment.  Many economists say the loss in the additional  $600 payments will hinder an economic recovery since so many Texans will have less money to spend.

Doctors in Houston, Austin Say Hospitalizations Leveling Out

Here is some good news, for a change.  New data from the Texas Medical Center in Houston show hospitalizations in the Houston area due to Covid infections are starting to level out, and even decrease in some hospitals.  And, medical officials there say there are still hundreds of available beds for Covid patients.  Same story in Austin.  In Austin-Travis County, Covd case numbers and hospitalizations are declining.   After making the Austin convention center available for hospitalizations if area hospitals reached capacity, city leaders say that may not be needed after all.  All three of the major health system operators in the Austin area — Seton, St. David’s and Baylor Scott & White, say that at least 25% of their beds are still available, as are 17% of ICU beds.