The vaccine rollout continues in Bexar County.
The vaccine rollout continues in Bexar County. Credit: Scott Ball / San Antonio Report

As a new, more virulent strain of the coronavirus that has ravaged the United Kingdom landed on these shores on Tuesday, the vaccine rollout continued domestically.

On Tuesday, officials reported that more than 31,000 Bexar County residents have been vaccinated. That is a little more than a fifth of the 145,000 in the county’s first tier of folks prioritized for immunization, including frontline health care workers and long-term care patients.

“We still have a ways to go to work our way through that and make sure that these frontline workers get protected,” County Judge Nelson Wolff said at a Tuesday press briefing.

The Texas Department of State Health Services is urging health care providers to administer vaccines with all deliberate speed. Of the 611,000 doses received by Texas providers in the past two weeks, close to 164,000 doses have been administered. Thirteen more providers were slated to receive thousands of doses this week.

“All providers that have received COVID-19 vaccine must immediately vaccinate healthcare workers, Texans over the age of 65, and people with medical conditions that put them at a greater risk of severe disease or death from COVID-19,” said Dr. John Hellerstedt, commissioner of the Department of State Health Services, in a Tuesday statement. “No vaccine should be kept in reserve.”

A record number of Texans with COVID-19 infections were in the hospital on Tuesday, according to state data. The official COVID-19 patient count is approaching 12,000 statewide as hospital beds continue to fill up amid the holiday surge.

In Bexar County, hospitals continue to see a startling rise in admissions. On Tuesday there were 157 new coronavirus-positive patients, bringing the total patient count to 1,116. Intensive-care patients make up 314 of those while 170 patients are on ventilators.

Tuesday’s 11 fatalities included women and men – among them Hispanic, Black, and white residents – ranging in age from 60 to 99. The local death toll now stands at 1,521.

As schools remain on holiday break, the county’s COVID-19 protocols for in-person schooling remain in the red zone, meaning public health officials are advising against in-person education with few exceptions. The protocols remain recommendations, and most schools maintain policies of operating at reduced capacity.

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

  • 114,362 total cases, 975 new cases
  • 1,521 deaths, 11 new deaths
  • 1,116 in hospital, 13% beds available
  • 314 patients in intensive care
  • 170 patients on ventilators, 52% ventilators available

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