Texas Public Radio is updating the latest information on COVID-19 in the San Antonio area, along with how local businesses are adjusting, how you can help those in need and what you can do to stay entertained at home. TPR is also providing live updates on the Rio Grande Valley.
Here’s what we know …
Saturday, May 2
4:15 p.m. — SAHA gets $3.8M in federal housing aid
More than $22 million has been allocated to protect Texas public housing residents impacted by COVID-19.
The funds are made available by the CARES Act coronavirus relief package.
The San Antonio Housing Authority will receive $3.8 million. It’s the largest recipient in the state. The Bexar County Housing Authority will receive $16,000.
The Department of Housing and Urban Development said the funds were awarded to 346 public housing authorities across the state.
The funds will be used to purchase personal protective equipment for staff, expenses related to internet connection infrastructure and other efforts to safeguard public housing residents and housing authority staff.
3:00 p.m. — UTRGV offers its students some food assistance
Many university students in the Rio Grande Valley suffer from food insecurity. The coronavirus pandemic has worsened the need.
The food pantry at the University of Texas-Rio Grande Valley has seen increased demand in the past week.
“People that were suffering because they’ve lost their job — they’re not sure where their next meal is going to come from,” said Richard Sanchez, associate vice president for governmental relations at the university. “They’re hitting food banks. And it’s no different for our students.”
He’s leading a food drive for the student food pantry.
“I think a lot of people want to be able to do something to help,” he added. “This is something that everybody can do. At least our university community.”
A study released in December shows only 44 percent of students aren’t aware of the pantry.
“We have to reduce stigma so that they feel comfortable,” explained Douglas Stoves, the university’s senior associate dean for student rights & responsibilities. “Because there’s that tendency to look at our students as victims, and that’s not the case. Everybody needs a hand up.”
Food donations for the pantry are being accepted at the ITT building on the UTRGV Edinberg campus until Thursday. Learn more at UTRGV.edu/FoodPantry.
2:00 p.m. — City website collects donations to help arts community
The City of San Antonio’s Department of Arts & Culture launched a feature on its website to support local nonprofit arts agencies impacted by the coronavirus crisis.
Donations will be collected within the department’s operational grant program, which funds 37 agencies. The grant program was reduced by 20 percent due to COVID-19’s impact on the Hotel Occupancy Tax revenue.
The grant program supports nonprofit arts agencies with artist fees, contracted services, production, space rental and marketing expenses.
Contributions can be made at getcreativesanantonio.com.
1:30 p.m. — Port Aranasas no longer a ‘ghost town’
Texas Public Radio asked reporter Joey Palacios to visit Port Aransas this weekend and get a sense of the situation in the coastal town.
Is it crowded? Are beachgoers practicing social distancing? Have businesses reopened? How do residents, businessowners and tourists feel about their safety and economic futures?
By late Saturday morning, he tweeted, “it’s very very busy here today.”
Groups of beachgoers, he reported, were spaced out a fair distance, and a steady line of cars took up parking spaces just before 11:00 a.m.
A store sign saying “Baby, we’re back” greeted traffic flowing past.
The interim chamber of commerce CEO described Port Aransas as a ghost town before this week.
A sign saying “Baby we’re back” outside a store in Port Aransas calls out to the busy streets in the COVID-19 pandemic after the TX Governor allowed certain businesses to reopen.
The interim chamber CEO described Port A as a ghost town before this week. @TPRNews pic.twitter.com/DFmCo4Rf5p
— Joey Palacios (@Joeycules) May 2, 2020
More details and a complete report coming later this weekend.
1:00 p.m. — Comal County offices reopen on Monday
Comal County offices reopen to the public Monday, with a regard for social distancing requirements.
Most offices are open to foot traffic, with exception for office moving into the renovated Landa Building. Most county and district court proceedings remain on hold.
Public areas in Comal County offices are disinfected, and the county has restocked its supplies of masks and hand sanitizer for employee use.
12:00 p.m. — 300 South Texas workers lose jobs
Nearly 300 workers in South Texas are losing their jobs due to the oil market crash and the coronavirus.
The San Antonio Business Journal reported 287 workers were laid off at Jet Specialty Inc., Cameron International Corp., and Signal Peak Silica LLC. Cameron says it would permanently close plants in Corpus Christi and Karnes County.
Cameron and Signal Peak said the layoffs were the result of falling oil future prices and the impact of the coronavirus on the industry. Signal Peak said it may close its plant in Atascosa County.
At least 700 workers in South Texas lost work since oil prices began to plummet in early March.
11:15 a.m. — San Antonio Botanical Garden reopens
The San Antonio Botanical Garden planned to reopen its gates on the day of its 40th anniversary tomorrow.
To minimize physical contact and practice social distancing, the Botanical Garden will only accept advance ticket reservations made online at sabot.org.
Botanical Garden CEO Sabina Carr said the health and safety of their visitors and employees was their top priority.
No tickets will be sold onsite. Daily tickets are timed entry and are limited in order to manage 25% capacity.
Garden members will be asked to reserve free visits online to help manage capacity.
10:00 a.m. — Donate masks on May 8
San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg put out a call for donations of new masks to help protect the most vulnerable residents of the city.
He said on May 8th, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., new masks may be dropped off at the Tripoint Event Center near U.S. 281 and North St. Marys.
The mayor also thanked the Hindu faith community for the recent donation of 7,000 masks to help protect the city’s first responders.
9:00 a.m. — National Guard teams help set up testing sites
Six mobile teams of National Guard members were dispatched across the city this week to establish testing centers in underserved areas.
Mayor Ron Nirenberg said one testing center was already planned for the Frank Garrett Center, south of Woodlawn Lake. He said it should be open for testing on today, tomorrow, and Tuesday and Wednesday.
He added that other sites would follow.
“They’re scouting the proper sites that are in alignment with the health transition team’s guidance in terms of where we need assistance in those areas that are not getting enough,” he explained.
8:30 a.m. — More tests at jail push up Friday count
Metro Health officials reported 1,477 local cases of COVID 19 as of Friday, an increase of 103 cases in one day.
But Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff said the big jump was due to increased testing at the county jail, a hotspot for the virus.
“Out of that 103, 91 were at the jail, which means out in the community there were only 12 positives. That is the lowest number we’ve had since we started. So that’s a positive sign,” he said.
No new deaths were reported, and the death toll stands at 48. There have been 683 recoveries.
Friday, May 1
6:35 p.m. — Total confirmed cases up more than 100 from yesterday
Mayor Ron Nirenberg reported 1,477 confirmed cases of COVID-19 today; that number is up 103 from yesterday. County Judge Nelson Wolff explained that the jump is due to the increase in testing being done at the Bexar County jail. Of the 103 new cases, 91 are inmates.
At the jail, Wolff explained that even asymptomatic inmates are being tested, which he connected to the high number of positive cases. In total, there have been 157 cases at the jail; 10 people have recovered.
There have been 45 more recoveries, bringing the total to 683. The total number of deaths remains at 48, with no new deaths today.
Nirenberg reported an uptick in the number of positive cases in area hospitals, a total of 60. Forty-two are in intensive care — up five from yesterday — and 21 are on ventilators.
According to Nirenberg, Gov. Greg Abbott plans to deploy 50 operations for mobile testing run by the Texas National Guard. The groups’ training is in San Antonio and will be completed by tomorrow. Of the 50, six will be deployed in San Antonio.
6:13 p.m. — Watch Friday’s daily briefing
To read Friday’s entire COVID-19 brief, click here.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines
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