What is the Texas Department of State Health Services doing
with its positivity rate calculations?
According to a DSHS press release, “The Texas Department of State Health
Services today will begin reporting two additional measures of the COVID-19
positivity rate, the percentage of tests that are positive in a given period.
The update is the result of DSHS’s work to enhance the state’s
COVID-19 data in partnership with the Governor’s Strike Force.
While DSHS will continue to post the data in the form Texans
are used to, DSHS will primarily rely on the positivity rate calculated
according to when people were tested, the specimen collection date, which
provides the most accurate view of the pandemic’s effect over time. Because
all test results received will be counted by when the test occurred, the rate
for previous days will change as that information becomes more complete, and
it will not be skewed by delays in reporting test results to the state.
‘These enhancements are part of our continuous effort to
improve the information we present,’ said Dr. John Hellerstedt, DSHS
commissioner. ‘As the COVID-19 pandemic evolves, so must the data we
share. Our information must provide the clearest possible picture of
what is happening now and what has occurred in the past. The trends in
this and other data shape our understanding of what to expect in the
To that end, here are the new positivity rates as of September
-Specimen Collection Date = 6.71 percent
-Lab Test Reported Date = 9.25 percent
-Case Reported Date (this is the “legacy method” DSHS has been
using all along) = 6.85 percent
Apparently, the new calculation method will give a more
accurate representation of viral transmission in Texas on a given day, but it
will also result in large fluctuations from day-to-day.
What is the latest on the Families First Coronavirus Response
In response to an August 3, 2020, federal district court
ruling out of New York that invalidated four parts of the Department of
Labor’s rule implementing the FFCRA (we reported on this case here),
the Department has issued a temporary rule reaffirming and revising its regulations, and
further clarifying its position. Specifically, the Department:
-Reaffirms that an employee is not eligible for paid sick
leave and expanded family and medical leave if the employer does not have
work available for the employee (this means that employees who are on
furlough or unable to temporarily work because of, for example, a site
closure may not qualify for paid FFCRA);
-Reaffirms that where intermittent leave is permitted,
employer consent is required before an employee can take emergency paid sick
leave or expanded family and medical leave intermittently;
-Revises the definition of “health care provider” to include
only employees who meet the definition of that term under the Family and
Medical Leave Act regulations or who are employed to provide diagnostic
services, preventative services, treatment services or other services that
are integrated with and necessary to the provision of patient care which, if
not provided, would adversely impact patient care;
-Revises to clarify that the information that the employee
must provide the employer to support the need for leave need not be given
prior to taking leave, but should be provided to the employer as soon as
-Corrects an inconsistency on when employees may be required
to provide employers notice of their need to take expanded family and medical
The temporary rule will be effective on September 16, 2020.
How can we help our local hotels keep their doors open and
Hotels are fighting their way out of a halt in travel that has
caused large-scale layoffs and temporary closures, and industry leaders don’t
expect a turnaround until a proven COVID-19 vaccine is developed. Scott
Joslove, President and CEO of the Texas Hotel & Lodging Association,
said that in his 20 years in the business, he has never seen such dire
impacts. Listen in on Joslove’s session “Hotels Are Your Partners in
Economic Recovery” at the virtual TML Annual Conference and Exhibition on October 14 at
3:00 p.m. to hear what your city can do now to make a difference for your
hospitality community and local economy.
Register here to hear Joslove’s presentation, and to view
more than 30 other TML Annual Conference sessions related to disaster
recovery and resilience.
What’s the latest regarding future federal stimulus
A very interesting, maybe even uplifting, development in these
strange times. According to CNN, “A bipartisan group of House members is
unveiling a sweeping proposal to inject up to $2 trillion in aid to the
economy amid the coronavirus pandemic, a move aimed at jump-starting talks
that have devolved into bitter acrimony and finger-pointing between
the White House and Democratic leaders in the heat of this election year.
The proposal touches on many of the elements under discussion
– aid to small businesses and schools, a new round of checks to Americans,
more jobless benefits and funding to help with the November elections – while
achieving bipartisan consensus on issues that have left the two sides
bickering for the past several months, such as money for cash-strapped states
While the proposal stands little chance of becoming law, and
just specifies overall numbers while leaving out many policy details, it
represents a rare bipartisan breakthrough given Congress has been locked in a
partisan impasse for months after Washington poured $3 trillion in the spring
to help an economy ravaged by the pandemic.
The plan, pushed in part by vulnerable lawmakers in both
parties, is also a clear recognition that many on Capitol Hill are anxious
about Congress' failure as millions are of out of work and want to ratchet up
pressure on congressional leaders to restart talks with the White House.”
Other media outlets, including the New York Times and Politico, reported on the effort as well.
Where can I find archived issues of the TML Coronavirus
TML Coronavirus Updates are archived by date here and by