‘Heading in the right direction’

Andres Picon

This week’s slowdown of coronavirus transmission in Bexar County continued to improve as local officials on Thursday reported fewer than 200 new cases for the third day in a row.

Thursday’s 189 new cases brought the seven-day rolling average down to 205 per day from 227 on Wednesday. That average — considered a more reliable indicator of local transmission trends than daily case counts — had remained relatively stable since mid-March. It peaked at 2,260 in January, when the pandemic was at its worst here.

The number of people receiving treatment for COVID-19 in area hospitals has also started to level off in the first week of May after having increased by about 50 percent during April.

“We’re heading in the right direction,” Mayor Ron Nirenberg said at the city-county coronavirus briefing. “Let’s keep it up.”

There were 219 patients with COVID-19 in local hospitals on Thursday, two more than on Wednesday but an improvement from the 270 patients less than two weeks ago. There were 32 new hospital admissions in the past 24 hours.

Of all the COVID-19 patients hospitalized, 71 of them were in the intensive care unit Thursday — three more than on Wednesday — and 41 patients needed a ventilator to breathe, one more than on Wednesday.

In January, when hospitalizations for COVID-19 were at their highest in Bexar County, there were more than 1,100 such patients in hospitals each day, and hundreds of them required intensive care.

Officials on Thursday reported four new deaths from the past two weeks. The victims were a Hispanic woman and a Hispanic man in their 50s, a white man in his 60s and a Hispanic woman in her 70s. All four died at local hospitals.

Since the pandemic arrived in the region more than a year ago, 219,008 San Antonians have tested positive for the coronavirus and 3,379 have died of COVID-19.

While hospitalization numbers and deaths this spring have been markedly better than they were last winter and summer, city and county officials have warned against complacency and have continued to urge residents to get vaccinated as the supply of available doses has increased.

“We want to encourage everybody to continue to push to get their friends, themselves and their neighbors vaccinated,” County Commissioner Justin Rodriguez said.

The vaccines are considered the best weapon against serious illness, hospitalization and death and have become easier to get with each passing week. Many of the local vaccination centers and pharmacies offering it now allow people to get their shot on a walk-in basis — no appointment necessary.

“It is extremely convenient right now to get a vaccine,” Nirenberg said. “We are finally putting an end to this pandemic, but we’re not quite there — we’re almost there.”

To date, more than 928,300 Bexar County residents have gotten their first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine — or 62 percent of the eligible population. An additional 647,489 residents, or 43 percent of those eligible, are fully vaccinated, officials said.

The San Antonio Express-News offers detailed information — updated daily — about vaccination locations, vaccine supplies and how to make appointments in the print edition and online.

andy.picon@hearst.com | Twitter: @andpicon


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