UT Health San Antonio Receives First Shipment of Pfizer’s COVID-19 Vaccine on Monday, December 14, 2020.
UT Health San Antonio receives first shipment of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine on Monday. Credit: Courtesy / UT Health

On Monday, a nurse at a Long Island, New York, hospital became the first person in the U.S. to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. Four Texas sites received shipments of the vaccine as well on Monday, with the Wellness 360 clinic at UT Health San Antonio the first in the city to get the shots.

Coronavirus cases continue to rise throughout the state, as some hospitals face capacity issues with COVID-19 patient counts nearing the all-time high in July.

Bexar County reported nearly 600 new cases of the coronavirus on Monday, bringing the seven-day average down almost 100 from Sunday to Monday. That follows a pattern of smaller increases on Mondays after lighter testing loads on the weekend.

But a better indicator of the virus’s presence in San Antonio is the positive test rate. Of the more than 46,000 tests administered to residents of the county last week, 12.5 percent tested positive for the novel coronavirus, a decrease of 3.2 percentage points from the previous week.

The local patient count keeps climbing, however. On Monday, 89 more COVID-19 patients were admitted to local hospitals, bringing the hospital caseload to 769.

The game of musical chairs at the top of the City’s public health department continues, as it was announced on Monday that the duties of San Antonio Metropolitan Health District director would be split into two part-time positions, one filled by the interim director and Assistant City Manager Colleen Bridger, the other by Mary Garr, president and CEO of Family Service.

The City’s top health authority has been in flux since former director Dawn Emerick resigned as Bexar County was experiencing its worst peak of the pandemic. That resignation delayed Bridger’s already planned departure from the city. On Jan. 8, Bridger will retire her interim director and assistant city manager posts to lead the local COVID-19 incident response and will remain serving in that role indefinitely. And Dr. Sandra Guerra, the deputy Metro Health director, resigned, prompting the hiring of Garr on a part-time basis.

We’ll have more on the vaccinations in San Antonio later in the week. Frontline health care workers here are set to receive almost 30,000 shots by the end of the year, and nursing home residents will also get inoculated.

If you’ve got questions about the vaccine, check out our FAQ answering some of the most common concerns. One question to arise at Monday’s coronavirus briefing: When should most San Antonians expect to be able to get the vaccine? The current timeline indicates early summer, perhaps around June, Bridger said.

The patchwork of laws and governance styles that made up the U.S. response to the COVID-19 pandemic will be remembered for its utter fecklessness. But if we are successfully able to immunize enough Americans to establish herd immunity by, say, the end of 2021, it will all have been just a bad dream. Right?

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

  • 94,781 total cases, 599 new cases
  • 1,429 deaths, no new deaths
  • 769 in hospital, 15% beds available
  • 258 patients in intensive care
  • 115 patients on ventilators, 62% ventilators available

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