The City of San Antonio guides media through a tour of the Alamodome COVID-19 mass-vaccine site. Photos taken on January 11, 2021.
Health workers administer COVID-19 vaccinations on Jan. 11 at the Alamodome. Credit: Bonnie Arbittier / San Antonio Report

Mayor Ron Nirenberg on Friday said he was angered by the fact that San Antonio has not received new first-dose shipments of the COVID-19 vaccine in weeks and warned the mass vaccination site at the Alamodome may be forced to shutter because of it.

Speaking at his nightly briefing on the COVID-19 pandemic, Nirenberg was asked about a letter he and Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff sent to the Federal Emergency Management Administration on Friday. In it, the local leaders requested that FEMA establish a vaccination supersite in San Antonio, as the agency has done in the Houston and Dallas-Forth Worth areas, or provide the vaccine supply so that the City of San Antonio can establish one itself.

“It’s getting a little frustrating – in fact, angering – that we are here and have been beating the drum every single day to get more vaccines to the seventh-largest city in the United States,” Nirenberg said during the Friday briefing. “We have done everything possible to get vaccines out in an equitable manner in this community; we need more. And if we don’t have more first-dose vaccines coming into the community, the [Alamodome] will have to close because we simply don’t have doses to put in people’s arms. So we’re calling on the Fed to ship us more.”

Citing the city’s high COVID-19 mortality rate in comparison to other locales in Texas, as well as the fact that it has the state’s highest social vulnerability index, the letter stated the situation in San Antonio demands the federal government’s “full consideration and expedient action.”

Earlier this month, the San Antonio Metropolitan Health District announced it was postponing second-dose appointments at the Alamodome by two weeks because of a technical error at the state level that delayed shipment of the vaccine doses to San Antonio. Since then, the health authority has been focused on ensuring the success of the second-dose vaccinations and has deferred first-dose shipments to WellMed’s three senior health clinics.

The Alamodome has not received new first-dose allocations in nearly three weeks, according to the letter. On Friday, the publicly available list of vaccine allocations showed the City would receive a 1,000-dose allotment of the Moderna vaccine for next week, but it’s unclear whether that supply will be for the Alamodome site. Nirenberg said all Alamodome appointments set for next week will be second-dose vaccinations.

Further complicating the administration of vaccine doses in San Antonio is the inclement weather set for this weekend. Appointments scheduled for Monday at the Alamodome will be moved to Friday, Feb. 19. The University Health System’s vaccination site at the Wonderland of the Americas mall will be closed until noon on Monday. WellMed is postponing second-dose appointments scheduled for Monday due to inclement weather and will contact people who have appointments scheduled for that day.

“People will not lose an appointment if it’s rescheduled,” Nirenberg said.

In addition, Community Labs will close its free, asymptomatic testing sites on Saturday and Monday and reopen on Tuesday. The City-run COVID-19 testing sites at Cuellar and Ramirez community centers will also be closed Saturday through Monday.

University Health reached a significant milestone of its vaccine rollout on Friday, administering its 100,000th COVID-19 vaccine dose after having operated its mass vaccination hub for a little more than a month.

With 716 new cases of the coronavirus reported in Bexar County on Friday, the local seven-day average fell to 746, a level not seen since November. COVID-19 hospitalizations continued to decrease with 767 patients being treated on Friday. The nine deaths reported on Friday included a boy, age 9 or younger, who died at Children’s Hospital of San Antonio.

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

  • 187,062 total cases, 716 new cases
  • 2,396 deaths, nine new deaths
  • 767 in hospital, 13% beds available
  • 306 patients in intensive care
  • 164 patients on ventilators, 57% ventilators available
  • 186,059 residents vaccinated (at least one dose)
JJ Velasquez

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.