Today, Governor Greg Abbott provided another coronavirus update.
He announced that as of this morning, over 205,000 Texans have been tested, 19,945 have tested positive, 6,486 have recovered, and 511 Texans have died from the disease.
These numbers indicate just under a 10 percent positive total test rate and a 2.5 percent total death rate.
The state maintains a large hospital capacity with 21,000 open beds and only 1,491 hospitalizations from the virus. “We have not come close to using our whole hospital capacity,” Abbott emphasized.
The governor said he is encouraged by the slowing hospitalization growth rate.
He also remarked that since its highest positive testing date, April 9, the state has seen 12 days in a row that have recorded below that high. Currently, Abbott said, the rate is about five percent.
Expounding on testing, Abbott announced 1,200 National Guard troops will be fully deployed by the end of the week and once operational they’ll be able to test 3,500 people a day.
In addition, over 60 drive-thru testing sites are operational in the state.
On the unemployment front, to date, over 1,579,000 unemployment claims have been fulfilled by the state amounting to $1.4 billion in benefits distributed. Abbott then announced that the federal government had approved the state to use SNAP benefits for grocery purchases.
Texas’ unemployment rate surged by 232,000 in March of this year.
Over 481,000 job openings are currently available throughout the state as the governor’s newly-minted task force is days away from its first recommendations for reopening the economy.
The news of the day yesterday was the plunge in oil pricing to negative values. That occurred both because of severe oversupply in the market, but even more so the depreciation of demand since COVID-19’s effects really hit home in the U.S.
This sparked a request for the Texas Railroad Commission (RRC) to prorate its oil supply (i.e. limit production). Last week, tens of thousands of people tuned in to RRC’s hearing on the issue and over 10 hours of testimony was heard with dozens of producers and special interests providing their feedback.
Ultimately, the RRC declined to vote on proration, choosing to postpone their next meeting on the matter.
When asked if any options the state may take for restoring demand in the market had been considered, Governor Abbott told The Texan, “The federal government has the tools to address that.” The White House is currently considering filling up its reserves to inject some demand into the imbalanced market.
Abbott also stated that he’s been in contact with the White House for weeks regarding the energy market’s volatility.
The governor was also asked about the dynamic with localities if and when new changes to the state’s order (i.e. reopening businesses), to which he said details on that will be announced in executive orders to come. But if the state deems it necessary, he said they have the ability to require localities to comply.
Yesterday, the City of Colleyville loosened its restrictions on activities and business operations — a drastically different approach than most other localities.
When asked about Colleyville’s order, the governor said he had read the order and that “much of it is in agreement with the state’s executive order.” He then added, “If there is anything in the order that is not in agreement with ours, my staff will be happy to talk to him about it.”
The governor is scheduled to announce the first reopenings on April 27.
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Brad Johnson is an Ohio native who graduated from the University of Cincinnati in 2017. He is an avid sports fan who most enjoys watching his favorite teams continue their title drought throughout his cognizant lifetime. In his free time, you may find Brad watching and quoting Monty Python productions.