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

The seven-day average of new coronavirus cases has climbed above 2,000 for the first time, as infections continue to mount in Bexar County. The San Antonio Metropolitan Health District on Friday reported 2,889 new cases of the virus.

Hospital numbers remained on the decline, falling to 1,387 on Friday, although a slightly higher percentage is in critical care with 403 patients in intensive care and 243 on ventilators. Hospitalizations have been climbing throughout the state, leaving many health care systems with little hospital capacity. The total COVID-19 patient count has fallen each day since Monday, when it stood at 1,433.

The City of San Antonio announced Friday that it has received an additional allotment of 9,000 COVID-19 vaccine doses from the state and will be signing up phase-1A-and-1B-eligible residents for the vaccine. WellMed has also received an additional allotment. Its COVID-19 hotline – 833-968-1745 – will reopen Saturday with callers able to schedule appointments beginning on Monday. And check back on the City’s vaccination registration page on Saturday, as 2,000 more appointment slots will open.

After becoming one of the first entities in San Antonio to offer mass vaccinations to the public eligible under phases 1A and 1B, University Health System is pausing inoculations for the broader public as its latest allotment is low relative to the number of local residents seeking the vaccine. Because of its limited number of doses, the provider will vaccinate University Health patients in underserved areas who are especially vulnerable to disease. The hospital system also will vaccinate staff members in nine area school districts, including Alamo Heights, East Central, Edgewood, Harlandale, Judson, Northeast, Northside, San Antonio, and Southwest independent school districts.

According to the State of Texas, more than 70,000 Bexar County residents have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.

Mayor Ron Nirenberg acknowledged on Friday that the process for signing up to get vaccinated has elicited much frustration and many complaints, as hotlines have been flooded with calls and online portals have led to some confusion.

“The process is beyond frustrating for all of us, and it’s primarily due to the fact that we are not seeing enough dosages of vaccines being distributed to the San Antonio area based on the number of people that are eligible,” Nirenberg said. “What we’re asking folks to do in our community is please, please be patient. Continue to call.”

One Texan who isn’t waiting to get the vaccine any longer is Willie Nelson. The 87-year-old singer pulled up at a drive-thru clinic in Austin suburb Cedar Park to get his “rainbow injection.” I hope all the Willie fans out there got that one.

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

  • 143,503 total cases, 2,889 new cases
  • 1,710 deaths, six new deaths
  • 1,387 in hospital, 10% beds available
  • 403 patients in intensive care
  • 243 patients on ventilators, 53% ventilators available
  • 70,526 residents vaccinated (at least one dose)

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