Task force on concert safety formed

State Capital Highlights



Gov. Greg Abbott last week announced the formation of a task force on concert safety after at least nine people were killed and hundreds injured at the Astroworld Festival in Houston on Nov. 5. Members include safety experts, law enforcement officials, firefighters and leaders from the Texas Music Office, the Texas Department of Public Safety, the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission and a half-dozen other state entities.

The task force is led by Brendon Anthony, director of the Texas Music Office.

“Live music is a source of joy, entertainment and community for so many Texans — and the last thing concertgoers should have to worry about is their safety and security,” Abbott said.

Lawsuits have been filed on behalf of more than 200 victims. Defendants include rapper Travis Scott and concert promotion giant Live Nation, according to a report in the Houston Chronicle. The deaths and injuries occurred when a crowd rushed the stage as Scott performed.

Vast majority of COVID-19 deaths among unvaccinated

A study by the Texas Department of State Health Services during the Delta variant outbreak of COVID-19 indicates unvaccinated Texans were 20 times more likely to die from the virus than those who had received one of the vaccines. From the report: All authorized COVID-19 vaccines in the United States are highly effective at protecting people from getting sick or severely ill with COVID 19, including those infected with Delta and other known variants. Real world data from Texas clearly shows these benefits.

Meanwhile, the total number of new cases of COVID-19 in Texas in the past week rose slightly to 23,350, as did new deaths at 846, according to the Coronavirus Resource Center at Johns Hopkins University. Since the pandemic began, 4.28 million Texans have been diagnosed with the virus — 14.6% of the state’s entire population. COVID-19 has taken the lives of 72,760 Texans, roughly equivalent to the entire population of Harlingen.

The good news is that at least for now, the number of hospitalized, lab-confirmed COVID-19 patients continues to drop, with 2,736 reported by DSHS as of Sunday. That is down 75% from mid-August levels.

DSHS also reports the number of Texans who are fully vaccinated continues to inch upward, with 15.67 million reported, a number that now includes children ages 5-11 who are now eligible for the vaccine.

GARY BORDERS is a veteran award-winning Texas journalist. You may reach him at gborders@texaspress.com

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