Aug. 30 Update: COVID hospitalizations continue decline

We also look at the voter security bill that Gov. Greg Abbott will sign in the coming days

Good morning.


The coronavirus situation is showing some mild evidence of slowing — notably a slight decline in hospitalizations.


On Sunday, there were about 13,500 people hospitalized with COVID-19 — a decline for the third consecutive day. Those hospitalized in the San Antonio area, including Kerr County, fell to less than 1,300.


Hill Country area schools posted a 3-3 record on football fields Friday night. Tivy, Ingram and Our Lady of the Hills were all opening night losers, while Harper, Center Point and Comfort all picked up wins.

If there was a huge bright spot, it was Center Point, which posted a 23-14 win over visiting San Antonio St. Anthony. The Pirates are coming off a 1-7 season.

Tivy has now lost six consecutive games against Dripping Springs — including the last three season openers.


The Kerr County Commissioner's Court will spend part of today discussing revamping its website. The commissioners will meet at 9 a.m. for a workshop.

While the Kerr County website isn't the prettiest site, it is reasonably functional and easy to navigate. However, it is dated and could use a refresher to bring it up to the standards of other counties.


Texas schools' first week of instruction was a coronavirus superspreader event with more than 20,000 cases reported through Aug. 20. It's not been a good start for schools around the state — critics, of course, are dropping the blame at Gov. Greg Abbott.


The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is warning people to use their common sense. Ok, maybe not, but the implication is strong. The federal agency had to release a health advisory because of the rise of poisoning of people taking ivermectin to keep COVID-19 at bay.

The concern is that people are taking veterinary doses of the drug that fights parasites, and what they're seeing are people taking doses used for horses. The Food and Drug Administration warns:

  • FDA has not approved ivermectin for use in treating or preventing COVID-19 in humans. Ivermectin tablets are approved at very specific doses for some parasitic worms, and there are topical (on the skin) formulations for head lice and skin conditions like rosacea. Ivermectin is not an anti-viral (a drug for treating viruses).
  • Taking large doses of this drug is dangerous and can cause serious harm.
  • If you have a prescription for ivermectin for an FDA-approved use, get it from a legitimate source and take it exactly as prescribed.
  • Never use medications intended for animals on yourself. Ivermectin preparations for animals are very different from those approved for humans.


Texas will likely find itself in court when Gov. Greg Abbott signs into law reforms to the state's voting procedures. The Texas House of Representatives election security bill was authored by Rep. Andrew Murr (R-Junction), who represents Kerr County, and the Senate bill was written by Sen. Bryan Hughes, who authored a bulk of the most controversial bills to become laws during the 87th Legislative session.

Murr has defended the bill.

"Senate Bill 1 encourages voter participation, increases confidence in voting and reduces the risk of fraud by guaranteeing that all legally cast ballots are counted — ensuring more trust in our state's election system and democratic process," Murr wrote on Facebook.

However, critics of the bill said much of what's in the bill is an overreaction from the Republican Party in the wake of former President Donald Trump's defeat to Joe Biden in November. Trump has baselessly, along with endlessly, claimed the election was either rigged, corrupt and fraudulent.

Various polls, including one by CBS News, suggest that 70% of Republicans feel fraud drove the 2020 election results. The Texas Politics Project, which runs a poll through the University of Texas, found that most Texans don't believe in widespread fraud. However, 31% of Republicans said fraud frequently happens.

On the right, the conservative Texas Public Policy Foundation said the bill makes elections safer by expanding voting hours, security and strengthening ID requirements.

"The Texas Legislature has done a great service for the people of Texas in ensuring the legitimacy of our election results," said Kevin Roberts, the Texas Public Policy Foundation's chief executive officer. "These reforms will protect voters by improving voter ID requirements, closing opportunities for ballot harvesting and mail-in ballot fraud, expanding voting hours, strengthening the rights of poll watchers, and preventing rogue election officials from changing the rules at the last minute.

"Texas Public Policy Foundation applauds Speaker Dade Phelan, Rep. Briscoe Cain, and Rep. Andrew Murr for their tireless effort to get this legislation through the House."

The following things make sense to us at The Lead and some that don't seem to fit.



It's well-documented that wireless internet access can be a security pitfall, but there's also no evidence that hacking compromised elections. However, this is a better safe than sorry element of the legislation. So, the law says beginning Jan. 1, 2024, equipment to tabulate votes may not be used if any wireless connectivity capability of the equipment has not been disabled or removed.


There's been plenty said about limitations, but there is a provision that allows people in line to cast ballots when the polls close. "A voter who has not voted before the scheduled time for closing a polling place is entitled to vote after that time if the voter is in line at the polling place by closing time," the law states.


The idea that you would have more transparency is a good thing, and that was the apparent thinking behind the concept of expanding poll watchers. However, it also introduces more people to the process of counting. The way it's set up provides partisan watchers with no requirement of balance between parties. It also provides significant access:

"A watcher may not be denied free movement where election activity is occurring within the location at which the watcher is serving," the law states. "In this code, a watcher who is entitled to "observe" an election activity is entitled to sit or stand near enough to see and hear the activity."



This is when the discussion may versus shall takes place. The new state law says counties with more than 100,000 residents shall implement video surveillance and live streaming in the vote-counting areas, but it's optional for smaller counties — like Kerr County. The handful of Texas election fraud cases, tracked by the conservative Heritage Foundation, has never found wrongdoing inside where voting happens, but this may stem from pro-Trump insistence of fraud captured on video in Georgia, which proved unfounded.

Since this is a shall, this appears to be an unfunded mandate for scores of counties across the state. This rule impacts about 40 of Texas' 254 counties. In 2020, President Joe Biden won 12 of these 39 counties. Many of the races were competitive, with Trump earning more than 70% of the vote in three counties with more than 100,000 people.

The document does not discern why the mandate for large counties, while optional use for smaller counties. Of course, 42% of votes cast in Texas were in Harris, Dallas, Tarrant, Bexar and Travis counties, and the 2020 Census showed that these counties are only growing larger.


During the coronavirus pandemic, Harris County raised concerns about public health safety, drawing the ire of the state's Republican Party with a slew of changes to voting procedures. Most notably, there was 24-hour voting, votes cast in tents and car garages and drive-thru voting. Harris County also moved to solicit vote by mail — something performed in many states across the country.

So, Senate Bill 1 aimed to reduce that likelihood by saying polling places may not be in a tent or similar temporary movable structure or a parking garage, parking lot, or similar facility designed primarily for motor vehicles. It also imposed criminal penalties for any vote-by-mail solicitation.


If you're a public employee, who has anything to do with an election, you're in the crosshairs of potential civil and criminal liabilities. Violation of these procedures can result in felonies, fines and jail time.


Powered by the belief in widespread voter fraud, Texas will make it easier for candidates to file a lawsuit against those involved in a fraudulent scheme. It also eases the way for the courts to step in and hear complaints about voter fraud.

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