The University Health System will receive more than 12,000 first doses of the COVID-19 vaccine next week.
The University Health System will receive more than 12,000 first doses of the COVID-19 vaccine next week. Credit: Bonnie Arbittier / San Antonio Report

More than 10,000 vaccine doses are coming to the Alamodome beginning next Monday. The new allotment of first doses is a slice of the overall 48,000-plus doses going to vaccine providers throughout Bexar County next week.

It’s one of the largest weekly allocations the county’s ever received, and it includes thousands of the recently approved Johnson & Johnson vaccine, a one-shot program, though the mass vaccination hubs at the Alamodome, Wonderland of the Americas mall, and UT Health San Antonio, are not among the providers receiving the new shot.

If you look closely, however, the vaccines aren’t being distributed very evenly according to population size. Parse the data released by the Department of State Health Services on Friday, and you’ll find that Bexar County is near the bottom of the list proportionally.

Austin’s Travis County, for example, has 700,000 fewer inhabitants than Bexar County, and yet it has an allotment of a few hundred more. That’s about 3,834 doses for every 100,000 residents in Travis County, and 2,417 doses for every 100,000 Bexar County residents.

If you look at wealth and demographic information, not included in the below table for the sake of conciseness, the counties with a greater proportion of vaccine doses have comparatively higher median incomes and larger percentages of white residents than those in the bottom half.

It’s a drum the city’s leaders have banged consistently: Bexar County, with its substantial portion of the population qualifying for a vaccine under the state’s 1A and 1B priority groups and its social vulnerability index the highest among Texas’ 254 counties, should be getting a far greater share of vaccine doses than it has been. On Friday, Mayor Ron Nirenberg was asked if he feels the vaccine distribution has been done in an equitable manner.

“No, not at all. Not even close,” Nirenberg responded. “This is something that we’ve been saying for the last several months.”

Nirenberg said the city has the capacity to administer triple the amount of vaccines it is being allocated per week.

A CDC report Friday found mandating masks saves lives and reduces the spread of the coronavirus. In states that issued mask mandates, daily COVID-19 case and death growth rates declined within 20 days of implementation. When states reopened restaurant dining, case and death rates increased within 41 days and 61 days, respectively.

H-E-B has come under scrutiny recently for what some perceive as a rather wishy-washy in-store mask policy. The company issued a press release on Friday stating it will “expect shoppers to wear masks while in our stores.” If a shopper is not wearing a mask they will be given one, according to the press release. Enforcing mask requirements can be a delicate matter for retailers, often encountering hostile reactions from those who flout them.

An increase of 298 cases of the coronavirus on Friday brought the county’s seven-day average down to below 300 for the first time since mid-November. Three deaths were added to the toll that now totals 2,681 since the pandemic began. Among the deceased were two Hispanic men, one in his 30s and one in his 70s, and a Hispanic woman in her 60s.

Here are the local coronavirus numbers as of 7 p.m. Friday:

  • 197,795 total cases, 298 new cases
  • 2,681 deaths, three new deaths
  • 335 in hospital, 9% beds available
  • 126 patients in intensive care
  • 65 patients on ventilators, 68% ventilators available
  • 272,289 residents vaccinated (at least one dose)

JJ Velasquez

JJ Velasquez is a columnist at the San Antonio Report. A former reporter and editor at the SA Report, he currently works as a project manager for New York City-based Advance Local.