Mayor Ron Nirenberg is urging residents not to host Super Bowl parties lest they bring the coronavirus into their home.
Mayor Ron Nirenberg is urging residents not to host Super Bowl parties lest they bring the coronavirus into their home. Credit: Bonnie Arbittier / San Antonio Report

Bexar County slowly appears to be emerging out of a long post-holiday coronavirus surge as hospital stress eases and the average case rate declines.

We are still at a “steadily” severe risk level, according to the San Antonio Metropolitan Health District’s own color-coded system. It’s steady because the indicators are pointing neither to a decrease in that risk nor an increase. Severe is the second-highest risk level. In The New York Timesestimation, however, Bexar County is still at an extremely high risk level.

That means you should still avoid indoor settings, nonessential travel, and mass gatherings as much as possible. The Super Bowl is on Sunday, and local officials have already warned against hosting indoor parties with people you don’t live with. Mayor Ron Nirenberg said on Monday the city has heightened its enforcement since the surge began. Mathematically, he said, it’s likely that someone you invite into your home could have the coronavirus.

“Our best defense against this right now is just common sense,” Nirenberg said. “Don’t do it. Don’t put yourself and others at risk inside your own house. Let’s make it through the Super Bowl and keep on a downward trajectory so we can enjoy businesses coming back to life and San Antonio in general.”

Getting back to normal could be easier if, as a study of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine showed, vaccinations can help reduce transmission on top of preventing serious illness from COVID-19. The finding emerged out of third-stage clinical trials for the AstraZeneca vaccine in the U.K., South Africa, and Brazil – in which coronavirus cases turned up less frequently in participants who received the vaccine. The results are still preliminary, as the sample size of the study is too small and there could be other explanations for the lessened potential for spread.

WellMed on Wednesday ran out of appointment slots for its latest round of vaccinations. The health provider is among the frequent recipients of the vaccine via statewide distributions, so be sure to check its website again soon if you are eligible and need to schedule an appointment.

H-E-B is among the pharmacy retailers throughout the country that are receiving direct shipments of the vaccine from the federal government, the White House announced. As we reported here yesterday, that will include CVS stores in San Antonio. Walgreens and Walmart are also on the White House’s list, but it remains unclear whether their San Antonio stores will be administering the vaccine during the Feb. 11 initial launch of the federal program. An H-E-B spokeswoman recommended visiting for updates and availability.

The U.K. variant of the coronavirus has been detected for the first time in Travis County, Austin officials announced Wednesday. Metro Health officials have said they are acting with the assumption that the COVID-19 variants could already be present in the community. The health authority sends a sample of local coronavirus specimens to a state lab that has the capacity to detect new strains of the virus. The variants spread the same way as the original strain, so keep wearing a mask, keeping a distance, and washing your hands.

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

  • 177,802 total cases, 1,012 new cases
  • 2,181 deaths, 14 new deaths
  • 1,127 in hospital, 10% beds available
  • 394 patients in intensive care
  • 236 patients on ventilators, 49% ventilators available
  • 138,167 residents vaccinated (at least one dose)

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