New: Texas health officials published new data this week that shows the state’s COVID-19 positivity rate was higher in the spring than originally disclosed, even as public officials cited the data to justify business reopenings.
.@TexasDSHS on Monday announced a new method for calculating the positivity rate, or the proportion of positive tests, and conceded the previous method obscured the extent of viral transmission by combining old and new cases.
The new formula relies on the date a coronavirus test was administered, rather than the date it was reported to health officials and verified as a case.
As Texas prepared for the first phase of reopening in late April, Gov. Greg Abbott repeatedly pointed to the state’s positivity rate, even as the number of new cases and deaths continued to rise.
When Abbott spoke at a May 5 news conference, state data at the time placed the seven-day average positivity rate at 5.84%, near the 5% benchmark recommended by the World Health Organization before governments ease restrictions.
The actual rate, however, was higher.

According to the new method, Texas’ seven-day average positivity rate was actually 8.4%, near the 10% threshold Abbott had called a “warning flag” indicating a high level of community spread.

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More from @TexasTribune

26 Sep
1/ Native American tribe members say mistrust of the government and a history of erasure of indigenous people have contributed to low voter participation by tribe members.

This year they're are rallying to increase voter turnout.…
2/ Cecelia Flores, chairperson for the Alabama-Coushatta Tribe, said most people in her community don’t see how the federal government impacts what they prioritize most: work and livelihood.…
3/ But recently, an electronic bingo facility run by the tribe was threatened with closure when conflicting federal laws raised questions.

A federal bill was filed to protect the facility, but was opposed by U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, a Texas Republican.…
Read 8 tweets
25 Sep
Breaking: A U.S. district judge has blocked Texas from eliminating straight-ticket voting as an option for people at the polls this November.

Straight-ticket voting allows voters to register support for all of their parties’ candidates with a single vote.
Opponents have argued removing straight-ticket voting would disproportionately impact voters living in large counties — with more voters of color — where the ballot is longer.
The move to nix straight-ticket voting was championed by Republicans who say removing the option will force voters to make more informed decisions in individual elections.
Read 5 tweets
25 Sep
1/ This is the story of how local Texas politicians helped a serial entrepreneur use COVID-19 to boost his business by attempting to sell telehealth and COVID-19 services across Texas.

Our latest with @ProPublica.
2/ During the early days of the pandemic, it wasn’t uncommon for companies to pitch their services to government officials.

What is far more unusual was for public officials to become part of the marketing effort.
3/ Before COVID-19, Kyle Hayungs pitched his telemedicine services to public officials in Hays County.

Some commissioners and county employees were confused about what exactly Hayungs wanted to sell them.

But that wasn’t the end of Hayungs’ involvement in Hays County.
Read 14 tweets
24 Sep
At a campaign event in Dallas, @GovAbbott issued a string of new legislative proposals to raise penalties and create new crimes for offenses committed at protests.
@GovAbbott The legislation, if passed by lawmakers in 2021, would create felony-level offenses for causing injury or destroying property during what is deemed to be a “riot.”
Blocking hospital entrances and using lasers to target police would also be felony offenses, Abbott said, and striking an officer with something like a water bottle would lead to a mandatory minimum of six months in jail.
Read 6 tweets
24 Sep
Tune in to our #TribFest20 conversation on #highered here:…
.@ChrisGTurner says expanding access to high-speed broadband should be a strategic imperative of the Texas Legislature. #txlege
Q: What can colleges do to encourage voter participation this fall?

Texas Higher Education Commissioner @HKellerEDU says he’s in favor of giving students the day off on Election Day to vote, but it’s a decision that would have to be made on campuses. #TribFest20
Read 4 tweets
22 Sep
1/ In Texas and across the country, college towns are emerging as new coronavirus hot spots.

With cases surging among students, universities are attempting to keep them from infecting broader local populations.
2/ In counties where students make up at least 10% of the population — like the counties that house Texas A&M University and Texas Tech University — cases have grown 34% since Aug. 19, compared to 23% in counties with a smaller proportion of students. Lubbock and Brazos counties — home to Texas Tech Universit
3/ For the past month, the Travis County ZIP code with the fastest-growing case count was the stretch including UT-Austin’s West Campus, an off-campus neighborhood where many students live.
Read 12 tweets

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