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LIVE UPDATES: A timeline of coronavirus in San Antonio
FAQ: Express-News readers’ top questions about coronavirus in San Antonio answered
CALENDAR: Key dates to watch as the city and state reopen, including schools, pro sports and more
How are we tracking in San Antonio?
Bexar County passed 2,000 cases of COVID-19 on May 14, and the local death toll remains below 100. According to the Mayor, the availability of staffed hospital beds and ventilators in San Antonio remains high.
“I believe because we’ve done so well here, better than any other metropolitan area, we’re going to be able to handle it,” Wolff said.
New coronavirus case counts were highest on May 1-2. On those days, local officials saw more than 100 new cases before things slowed. Nirenberg attributes recent increases to universal testing at nursing homes and the Bexar County Adult Detention Facility.
The city and county recently launched a new website where residents can access daily case surveillance.
What’s open and what’s not?
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott announced the next phase of the state’s reopening plan on May 18, giving business the go-ahead to soon welcome customers. The guidelines require businesses to enforce social distancing, limit contact and increase sanitization procedures.
Gyms, child-care facilities, personal care businesses and employers in offices can open now with some restrictions.
On May 22, bars, bowling alleys, bingo halls, skating rinks, rodeos, other equestrian events, aquariums, natural caverns and other recreational establishments can open with some restrictions. May 29, May 31 and June 1 bring another slew of openings.
Here’s is a detailed timeline, including the mandates. Add these dates to your personal Google calendar here.
What about the difference between city and state rules?
Gov. Greg Abbott’s “Open Texas” plan supersedes any orders issues by the city or county. To that end, the city and county’s most recent declarations of public health emergency, both issued on May 19, largely mirror the governor’s own order.
For example, the new orders “strongly encourage” residents to wear masks, rather than making it mandatory as previous orders have done — a capitulation to Abbott’s own refusal to require Texans wear face masks.
And like the governor’s order, the city and county will continue to prohibit arcades, amusement parks and water parks from operating.
How has treatment evolved?
While researchers are working furiously to develop a vaccine for COVID-19, it will be at least a year until one is available, if not longer. In the meantime, doctors are testing drugs to treat some of the sickest patients, and they are experimenting with different approaches to treating the sometimes fatal disease.
At the beginning of May, federal regulators granted emergency approval for the use of remdesivir, an experimental antiviral drug that shortened recovery times in preliminary studies. The approval allows the drug to be used to treat more coronavirus patients as the clinical trial measuring its efficacy remains ongoing. At University Hospital, one of the study sites, some coronavirus patients are being treated with remdesivir alone or in combination with an anti-inflammatory drug. Other hospitals in the area are working to obtain the limited medication. Doctors have largely moved away from the use of hydroxychloroquine, an anti-malaria drug that caused heart problems in some patients.
Over the past several weeks, the supply of convalescent plasma from donors who have recovered from COVID-19 has grown. The plasma is being administered to some of the sickest COVID-19 patients, in the hopes that it can arm them with disease-fighting antibodies against the virus. While results on its effectiveness are still pending from a national study, convalescent plasma has long been used to treat other viruses without a cure, and early data indicates that the treatment is at least as safe as typical plasma transfusions.
While much remains unknown about this coronavirus, physicians have learned more about works for these patients.
At the beginning of the pandemic, doctors were quick to place patients on mechanical ventilators. Now, they are trying to hold off on intubating as long as they can, due to high death rates among ventilated COVID-19 patients. When possible, they are giving high-flow oxygen to patients who are struggling to breathe. Some patients who continue to deteriorate are also being proned — flipped onto their stomachs to relieve pressure on their sickened lungs. As a last-ditch effort, a small number of patients who haven’t improved with the support of ventilators have been treated with extracorporeal membrane oxygenation, a type of life support that can support the function of the heart and lungs. Doctors are now also giving blood thinners to COVID-19 patients are they began developing dangerous blood clots.
How can I get tested?
The City of San Antonio recently announced four new locations and dates for free, walk-up COVID-19 testing. Between May 21 and May 30, each site will have the capacity to test the first 175 people that arrive every day. The walk-up sites will be open from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. daily.
The locations of all the new walk-up sites are listed here.
What is the plan for schools in the fall?
Texas schools got the green light to open classrooms for in-person summer classes starting June 1, but San Antonio’s larger school districts said they were still planning to do so in July.
For August, officials are discussing ways to offer a sort of “kickoff” to the school year — providing electives, for example, that re-acclimate students to school and give kids and families an opportunity to test how they feel about reentering the buildings
Here is a more detailed roundup of what major San Antonio area school districts having in the works.
What about Fiesta and other big events?
In early March, Fiesta San Antonio was postponed from April to November. That plan still stands, however Nirenberg remains flexible.
“I’m confident that we will again,” Nirenberg said of celebrating Fiesta. “I’m not confident that — or I’m not certain of any timeline with this disease, to be frank. We hope that it will be in November.”
The Express-News Editorial Board and our education reporters ask SAISD Superintendent Pedro Martinez about reopening schools and the future of education post-coronavirus.
Posted by San Antonio Express-News on Tuesday, 5 May 2020
A slew of the high profile events have been canceled, including Poteet Strawberry Festival and the Selena tribute concert.
Here is a list of popular events that have been canceled.
Check back as we continue to update this page with need-to-know information.