A health care worker at University Hospital communicates with his patient through a small window into the room.
A health care worker at University Hospital communicates with a COVID-19 patient through window into a room. Credit: Scott Ball / San Antonio Report

The number of COVID-19 patients in local hospitals fell slightly, from 663 on Wednesday to 658 on Thursday, a rarity in recent days as hospital admissions have shot up.

Colleen Bridger, San Antonio Metropolitan Health District interim director and assistant city manager, said the small drop in the patient count likely does not indicate a trend, as a comparatively high number of patients, 93, were admitted into hospitals on Thursday.

“I wouldn’t be surprised to see our numbers go up again tomorrow,” Bridger said.

A federal advisory panel has endorsed the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine up for emergency approval by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, setting up an anticipated distribution of the immunization shots starting next week.

The vaccine is set to come as the U.S. is seeing a record number of daily deaths from the disease and hospital capacities are shrinking.

Mayor Ron Nirenberg and Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff joined several local public school leaders in urging Gov. Greg Abbott to add teachers and other educators and staff to the high-priority tiers to receive the vaccine.

“I think it’s incumbent upon us to ensure that we have healthful school environments,” Nirenberg said at a Thursday press briefing. “And part of that is to make sure that teachers and faculty and frontline workers in the school environment are treated in a [high] priority manner with the vaccine distribution.”

Local school districts have continued to conduct classes in person as local public health officials have asked parents to consider returning their children to remote learning. Metro Health has said that with coronavirus positive test rates climbing, schools are in the highest level of risk and should restrict in-person instruction to at-risk populations.

Meanwhile, the state has decided to bring back the STAAR exams this year after the annual standardized tests were suspended last year amid the pandemic. The test results, however, won’t factor into the year-end A-through-F grades the Texas Education Agency gives schools and districts.

Metro Health on Thursday reported 1,174 new cases of the coronavirus, bringing the seven-day moving average up to 1,063. Six newly reported deaths brought the local toll to 1,412.

A quick note for anyone who might be seeking testing on Tuesday: The AT&T Center, among the locations where Community Labs offers free asymptomatic testing, will not be providing tests on that day because of a San Antonio Food Bank mega distribution scheduled at the venue.

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

  • 91,394 total cases, 1,174 new cases
  • 1,412 deaths, six new deaths
  • 658 in hospital, 10% beds available
  • 214 patients in intensive care
  • 115 patients on ventilators, 63% ventilators available
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.