Texas Metropolitan Areas
New Case Increase in Past Three Weeks
Total Number of COVID-19 Cases June 25
   
Houston
Population 6,686,235

Harris, Fort Bend, Brazoria
Montgomery, Galveston
87% 33,212
Dallas-Fort Worth
Population 7,049,608
Dallas, Tarrant, Collin, Denton
Ellis, Rockwall, Parker, Kaufman
68% 32,928
San Antonio
Population 2,308,550
Bexar, Comal, Medina,
Guadalupe, Wilson
165% 8,601
Austin
Population 2.073,489
Travis, Williamson
Hays, Bastrop
124% 10,468
Rio Grande Valley
Population 1,370,420
Hidalgo, Cameron
Willacy, Starr
197% 4,357

 

June 25, 2020

Top Texas Leaders Defying Trump Amid
Freeze on Reopening and Testing Pleas

By Mike Hailey
Capitol Inside Editor

Governor Greg Abbott and the state's two U.S. senators all broke ranks with President Donald Trump on Thursday in the COVID-19 fight in a sign that Republicans here could be on the verge of trying to run from a White House that's appeared to be teetering on the brink of a meltdown.

With the coronavirus raging out of control here, the Republican governor ran the risk of attracting Trump's wrath when he slammed the brakes on the Texas reopening that the president had declared to be a model for the nation early last month.

U.S. Senators John Cornyn and Ted Cruz - a pair of Republicans who'd been staunch Trump defenders during the pandemic and social injustice protests - set themselves up for attacks by the president when they urged the federal government to continue the flow of funds to Texas virus testing sites.

Trump declared at a campaign rally in Tulsa last weekend that he'd ordered a sharp reduction in coronavirus testing as a way to curtail sharp spikes in new cases in Texas and other hot spot states. The president had made it clear in no uncertain terms that he wants the states to reopen as quickly as possible while encouraging conservative base supporters to ignore safety protocols that are designed to curb a massive second outbreak.

Democrats have accused Abbott and the U.S. Senate pair of being Trump lap dogs who have trembled in fear at the thought of alienating the president. Cornyn has the most to lose as the only one of the three high-ranking Texas leaders who'll be up for re-election this fall on a GOP ticket that Trump will be leading.

After assuring Texans a week ago that they had no cause for alarm in the midst of the June surge, Abbott said that he'd attempted to balance the state's public and economic health with the pace of the reopening that he's had the singular power to direct. But Abbott acknowledged today that the time had come to freeze the reopening process until the state can curtail a virus resurgence that was in the infant stages when he announced Phase 3 amid the assertion that the spread of disease had been contained.

“The last thing we want to do as a state is go backwards and close down businesses," Abbott said. "This temporary pause will help our state corral the spread until we can safely enter the next phase of opening our state for business."

Abbott froze the reopening in place after the state recorded more than 11,000 new coronavirus cases in the past two days while breaking records for hospitalizations 13 days in a row in a state where the health care system is facing an unprecedented test of its emergency capacity.

The second surge had been under way for two weeks when the state escalated testing efforts that have been among the worst in the nation. The only glimmer of good news this week has been record-setting numbers of diagnostic tests for five consecutive days. While Texas ranks a disappointing 45th in the nation in testing positivity with a rate that's climbed steadily for the past 10 days. But Texas has vaulted up to 42nd in testing compared to other states thanks to its elevation as a belated priority.

Trump has emerged as the major obstacle to the Texas testing initiative that experts say the state desperately needs to increase.

"Now is not the time to end a program that is working and successfully increasing testing capacity—especially for underserved communities in the state," Cruz and Cornyn said in a letter that they fired off today to Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar and Federal Emergency Management Agency Administrator Pete Gaynor. 

Abbott said Wednesday that the state planned to take up the slack from the federal funding termination for seven Texas testing sites and could do a better job with a plan he said he would unveil this week. But Cornyn and Cruz appeared to disagree with the governor's assertion.

"Due to the recent rise of COVID-19 cases in Texas, cities need additional time to prepare for the transition to state and local control of the testing sites,” the Texas senator said.

The sharp departures on testing and the Texas reopening come at a time when polls show Trump in a free fall with Democrat Joe Biden's leading by double-digits with a surprising amount of support from white voters who appear to be turning rapidly against the volatile incumbent.

After tying himself to Trump for the past year, Cornyn could be in serious jeopardy this fall when he will face the winner of a Democratic primary runoff next month between MJ Hegar and State Senator Royce West.

Texas Major Hot Spots
New Cases Increase in Past Two Weeks
COVID-19 Cases Per 100,000 Population
1 Hays 346% 899
2 Guadalupe 266% 258
3 McLennan 235% 166
4 Nueces 232% 224
5 Hidalgo 197% 246
6 Midland 174% 263
7 Comal 173% 224
8 Wichita 172% 174
9 Tom Green 164% 230
10 Brazoria 143% 497
11 Lubbock 115% 503
12 Bexar 114% 376
13 Williamson 112% 285
14 Galveston 109% 604
15 Victoria 102% 376
16 Brazos 101% 576
17 Ector 96% 244
18 Cameron 90% 415
19 Bell 90% 260
20 Smith 73% 170
21 Parker 69% 128
22 Harris 66% 549
23 Webb 60% 364
24 Travis 59% 528
25 Ellis 59% 381
26 Montgomery 58% 310
27 Collin 58% 235
28 Kaufman 55% 381
29 Denton 51% 268
30 Tarrant 49% 450
31 Johnson 43% 183
32 Fort Bend 42% 403
33 Dallas 40% 688
34 El Paso 37% 572
35 Bastrop 35% 429
36 Jefferson 28% 583

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