Case Counts/Testing in Texas – As of Sunday, June 13th (3:30 PM data)
Total Tests Performed – 1,442,950
Confirmed Cases – 87,854
Active Cases – 27,534
Hospitalizations – 2,287
Fatalities – 1,976
Recovered Cases – 58,341
Consumer Confidence on the Rise
The Consumer Confidence Index is sharply on the rise with the gradual reopening of the economy. A rate of 100 or above generally means the public has confidence in the economy and are willing to have an open mind with regard to spending habits. In April of this year, the index fell to 86.9, the lowest level in six years. In January of this year, the index reached a high of 147.8 before the drastic decline. This past week, the index jumped to 109.8, as the economy reopens and consumers begin to engage in more favorable spending habits.
Unemployment Claims Continue to Fall
As of June 12th, the Texas Workforce Commission has received 3.1 million unemployment claims since the start of the pandemic, and paid out nearly $12 billion in benefits. This week’s total has fallen drastically from the March 18th peak of 281,000 to nearly 12,000.More than half of the money paid out has been through the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FRUC) program, as part of the CARES Act passed by Congress in April. The FPUC adds an extra $600 a week to the formulated benefits for each recipient. Currently, the US Senate is questioning the benefits and consequences of the extra $600 in weekly unemployment insurance benefits being awarded to millions who’ve lost their jobs. These so-called supercharged benefits began in April and are scheduled to end in July 24th.Many believe the aid should continue for another six months because unemployment is expected to remain high for a while. Many also worry about the risk of COVID-19 exposure and spreading the disease.Others argue the extra funding should end next month because it discourages people from returning to work. With the $600 supplement, an estimated two-thirds of the unemployed are getting more from current benefits than from pre-COVID paychecks. And 1 in 5 can get double their lost earnings, researchers said.
Today is the Deadline: Don’t Forget to Register to Vote in the Texas Primary Runoff
The runoff election for the Democratic and Republican primaries is July 14th. The runoffs were postponed because of the coronavirus pandemic.Voters participating in the Democratic primary will decide the outcome in two statewide races. Most notably, state Sen. Royce West, D-Dallas, is facing decorated Air Force veteran MJ Hegar in the Democratic primary for the U.S. Senate seat. Whoever wins will go on to face U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, in the fall. The other statewide Democratic primary runoff is for a seat on the Texas Railroad Commission, a regulatory agency that oversees the oil and natural gas industry.Here’s how to register to vote:
- First, you should check if you are already registered to vote at your current address. You can do so here with your Texas driver’s license number and date of birth, your first and last names, and the county where you reside, or with your date of birth and Voter Unique Identifier, which you can find on your voter registration certificate.
- If you are not registered to vote, print out your voter registration application here and mail it to the voter registrar in your county. Your application must be postmarked by Monday.
Early voting starts June 29. Voters who voted in the Republican primary in March cannot cross parties and vote in the Democratic primary — and vice versa. But if you didn’t vote in the March primary you can still vote in the primary runoffs. A full ballot for all contests in the state for both parties can be found here:
Texas records its highest number of COVID-19 hospitalizations so far in outbreak
The number of people in Texas hospitalized from the coronavirus hit a record high of 2,287 on Sunday, an increase from the previous record of 2,242 cases on Saturday. The state has continued to move forward with its reopening plan, with restaurants being allowed to increase capacity to 75% and almost all businesses allowed to operate with 50% capacity on Friday.According to the Texas Department of Public Health, the state has more than 55,000 hospital beds, with more than 14,000 available and more than 1,500 ICU beds available. Texas Governor Greg Abbott said Friday that he saw “no real need to ratchet back the opening of businesses in the state” due to the number of hospital beds available, according to the Texas Tribune.Abbott said he is “concerned, but not alarmed” about the test numbers, citing the high volume of tests being conducted. The state has conducted more than 1.4 million tests, aggressively targeting certain areas.The highest number of cases is in Harris County, the largest county by population in the state. Harris County, which includes Houston, has more than 16,000 cases of the coronavirus, according to the state. The other counties with large number of cases are also in major cities: Dallas County reported more than 13,000 cases; Tarrant County (which includes Fort Worth) reported more than 7,000 cases; Travis County (which includes Austin) reported more than 4,000 cases; Bexar County (which includes San Antonio) reported more than 4,000 cases; and El Paso County reported more than 3,000 cases.After those cities, the largest numbers of infections are in the Amarillo area, where meatpacking plants have been considered the source of the outbreak and where Abbott has targeted aggressive testing.
Houston/Austin Contemplate Extending Stay at Home Orders as Coronavirus Cases Surge
As the state opened to 75% capacity on Friday, some local officials are expressing concern in the spike in cases. Officials are cautioning that they may need to order people back home, and Houston is considering opening a COVID-19 hospital at NRG Stadium, a football complex, as coronavirus cases surge in the nation’s fourth-largest city.
Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo issued a warning over the weekend after a record week for virus cases and hospitalizations in the Houston area and across Texas, which marked the outbreaks by reopening restaurants to three-quarters of their capacity.Fourteen states have seen a spike in hospitalizations since Memorial Day, and the coronavirus death toll is now expected to reach almost 170,000 by October. That’s more than 50,000 additional deaths over the next few months. In Austin, Mayor Steve Adler has also expressed concern for the rise in hospitalizations in the Austin area. Austin is averaging 20 new hospitalizations over the last seven days. Adler says he will ask the Governor to let the local jurisdictions to enforce requirements such as mandatory face coverings and stronger enforcement of social distancing protocols. Abbott has made it clear he will not allow local jurisdictions to enforce orders that conflict with state issued executive orders.As of Friday, the Houston area is at what officials are calling a “Code Orange” — which means an uncontrolled level of transmission of the infection.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott says state’s FBS schools should not expect football capacity to be above 50%
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott spent an hour on a Zoom call Friday with the 12 athletics directors of the state’s Football Bowl Subdivision schools and told them not to expect capacity at their stadiums to be above 50% this fall, a person with knowledge of the call told USA TODAY Sports. The person spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to make details of the meeting public.As Texas re-opened amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Abbott had initially said sports stadiums would be allowed to operate at 25% of capacity. He revised that to 50% just a week later, giving rise to hopes that Texas would have a green light to potentially fill stadiums to capacity this fall.But Abbott’s message to the athletics directors was clear, according to the person with knowledge of the call: It would take either a vaccine or a drastic drop in cases for capacity to increase beyond 50% and that schools should not count on either development by the time the football season starts.