San Antonio remains in a deadly phase of the pandemic, as 22 more fatalities were reported on Thursday.
San Antonio remains in a deadly phase of the pandemic, as 22 more fatalities were reported on Thursday. Credit: Bonnie Arbittier / San Antonio Report

Twenty-two more Bexar County residents have succumbed to COVID-19, officials reported Thursday, as the local death toll rose to 2,387 over the course of the pandemic.

It’s the fourth-highest daily tally in Bexar County and served as a stark reminder, said Bexar County Commissioner Justin Rodriguez (Pct. 2), “that we’re still in a very deadly phase of this pandemic.”

But hospital figures continued their downward slope, as the percentage of local hospital patients fell below 20%, and the total COVID-19 patient count dipped below 800.

A new report from the Lancet Commission, a group that looks critically at the public policy of the Trump era, found that about 40% of coronavirus deaths in the U.S. could have been prevented if the country’s average death rate were comparable to those of other industrialized nations.

There have been far too many deaths in San Antonio, in particular, which leads the state’s five largest counties in deaths per capita, according to the New York Times. And the virus itself has not provided the space for people to grieve the loss of a loved one, many of whom die alone without friends or family by their side.

According to the state, Bexar County’s death toll stands at 2,611, a discrepancy the San Antonio Metropolitan Health District has been working throughout the pandemic to reconcile by confirming a coronavirus diagnosis and residence in Bexar County.

Studies have suggested the national COVID-19 toll is likely an undercount with fatalities ascribed to other causes occurring at higher-than-predicted levels.

It will be a long time before we are able to discern the true lethality of this disease, but one thing is abundantly clear: It ain’t no flu. About a quarter of Americans now say they know someone who has died from COVID-19.

That likely includes the San Antonio family of 9-year-old Makenzie Gongora, who died days after testing positive for the coronavirus. At least five other children in Bexar County have died from the disease and countless more senior residents.

Few of these stories have been told, which is why we’re gathering written remembrances from the community about those lost to COVID-19. Email to have your loved one included in our publication’s memorial to COVID victims.

With more than 900 new cases of the coronavirus reported on Thursday the county’s seven-day average increased slightly to 890.

One last thing: Vaccine seekers have a new hero. To get notified of when H-E-B makes new vaccine appointments available, follow @HebTracker on Twitter. The account is not affiliated with H-E-B but appears to be grabbing data from the organization’s online vaccine scheduler to alert people of when new appointments become available. At 4:52 p.m. on Thursday, the account reported there were seven appointments available at the H-E-B Plus on South New Braunfels Ave.; by 7:30 p.m. those openings were gone. The Twitter handle also said it would be adding CVS Pharmacy’s Texas stores to its tracking system.

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

  • 186,346 total cases, 902 new cases
  • 2,387 deaths, 22 new deaths
  • 791 in hospital, 12% beds available
  • 316 patients in intensive care
  • 182 patients on ventilators, 56% ventilators available
  • 180,209 residents vaccinated (at least one dose)

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