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Oct 21

October 20, 2020 TML Coronavirus Update #137

Posted on October 21, 2020 at 12:20 PM by TML Staff

Urgent Updates

What is the latest on vaccine distribution in Texas?
On October 16, 2020, the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) released the first draft of the Texas COVID-19 Vaccination Plan. According to reports, if a COVID-19 vaccine initially becomes available in November, it likely won’t be widely available for all Texans until July.

DSHS’s vaccination plan provides for four different phases to mirror the increase in vaccination supply. The first phase, when supply is the most limited, prioritizes vaccinations for vulnerable and frontline populations. Vulnerable and frontline populations include, among others, healthcare personnel, people 65 and older, those with underlying medical conditions, people from racial and ethnic minority populations, and people experiencing homelessness.

One thing that is clear from the plan is the important role that city governments and local officials will play in maximizing vaccine coverage. According to the plan, communication and coordination with local jurisdictions “are important in all phases of the COVID-19 Vaccination Program.” DSHS will be relying heavily on local partners to share information locally to share information and data to promote a COVID-19 vaccine. The League will continue to provide updates on vaccine distribution in furtherance of DSHS’s stated goal of partnering with local leaders on this important issue.
What kind of COVID-19 infection trends have we seen in recent days?
As infections and hospitalizations creep upwards in some regions of the state, so too have certain state data points. This rise prompted Dr. James McDeavitt, dean of clinical affairs at the Baylor College of Medicine, to recently say the following: “I’m no longer pondering if we’re going to see a surge. We’re already seeing it.”

Governor Abbott has taken action to tamp down the uptick in certain regions of the state. Last week, Governor Abbott announced the deployment of medical personnel and sent personal protective equipment to El Paso in response to the uptick in hospitalizations there. This action complemented the local actions taken by city and county leaders to keep citizens healthy. According to Governor Abbott’s press release, “[t]he State of Texas will continue to work alongside local officials and prioritize the health and safety of Texans." On Friday (October 16) the governor took similar action in Amarillo and Lubbock.

City officials can continue to track local COVID-19 data using DSHS’s County Trends Dashboard.
What’s the latest update on election-related litigation?
Yesterday (October 19), the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals overturned a federal district judge’s determination that election officials were required to give voters a chance to rectify any signature discrepancies between the ballot application and the ballot envelope. The court of appeals held that the lower court took it upon itself to “rewrite the Legislature’s mail-in ballot signature-verification and voter-notification procedures” in a way that could compromise the integrity of the election. Ultimately the court of appeals concluded that “Texas’s important interest in preventing voter fraud in its mail-in ballot system is sufficient to justify its reasonable restrictions on the right to vote.”

Further Updates

Where can I find archived issues of the TML Coronavirus Updates?

TML Coronavirus Updates are archived by date here and by subject here.