A former state vehicle inspection station turned COVID-19 testing drive-thru facility tests clients along Austin Highway.
A former state vehicle inspection station turned COVID-19 testing drive-thru facility tests clients along Austin Highway. Credit: Scott Ball / San Antonio Report

COVID-19 hospitalizations have declined for three consecutive days, albeit slightly, as the local health care system looks to weather the ongoing surge in coronavirus cases.

Despite the modest decrease in COVID-19 patients, Mayor Ron Nirenberg described the situation at local hospitals as very tentative.

“They’re at high stress right now, and the numbers have not shown much mercy,” Nirenberg said. “While we have had a few days now where it’s sort of leveled off a little bit that certainly isn’t a trend yet. So we need to do everything we can to protect the people who work at hospitals – the people you might depend on one day to save your life.”

Bexar County continues to see an increasing number of COVID-19-caused deaths. On Thursday, officials reported 19 additional fatalities caused by the disease, as the local death toll has eclipsed 1,700. The deceased included white and Hispanic men and women ranging in age from 50 to 99.

Among the more than 30,000 Texans who have died from COVID-19 complications was Glynn Dyess, Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff’s boyhood friend. Wolff was absent from the Thursday night COVID-19 briefing to pay his respects to Dyess in Houston. Here’s more from Wolff on not being able to say goodbye to his best friend as he died in the hospital.

Texas has become the first state to administer more than 1 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine, according to a press release from Gov. Greg Abbott’s office. Vaccinations began in the state on Dec. 14.

Vaccine demand in San Antonio is through the roof. Councilwoman Adriana Rocha Garcia told KSAT-12 more than 5.6 million calls were received in connection with a WellMed effort to get people vaccinated at locations on the South and East sides. About 5,000 people were ultimately vaccinated at those sites.

Nirenberg has joined dozens of big-city mayors throughout the country who wrote President-elect Joe Biden requesting direct access to COVID-19 vaccines. In the letter, the mayors argue allocating vaccines directly to cities would help expand outreach and speed up inoculation efforts.

“We need more supply,” he said Thursday. “So we’re going to continue to push everywhere possible to get more supply here, and that includes communicating with the Biden administration.”

The San Antonio Metropolitan Health District on Thursday reported another 1,829 cases of the coronavirus, bringing the cumulative total above 140,000 cases and the seven-day average up to 1,782.

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

  • 140,614 total cases, 1,829 new cases
  • 1,704 deaths, 19 new deaths
  • 1,407 in hospital, 11% beds available
  • 382 patients in intensive care
  • 231 patients on ventilators, 53% ventilators available
  • 65,015 residents vaccinated (at least one dose)

JJ Velasquez was a columnist, former editor and reporter at the San Antonio Report.