Infection rates are in decline, but that doesn't mean the coronavirus isn't still widespread in the community, local health officials said.
COVID-19 testing vials Credit: Scott Ball / San Antonio Report

For the second year running, COVID-19 will reshape San Antonio’s signature event.

The Fiesta Commission on Monday announced it has postponed Fiesta until June. The April event had occurred every year without fail since World War II. But mass gatherings remain unsafe as communities throughout the country remain in the thrall of the pandemic. Mayor Ron Nirenberg said the postponement of Fiesta – and cancellation of the Battle of Flowers and Fiesta Flambeau parades – was about public safety. Here’s more.

The vaccine rollout will likely play a central role in the viability of holding Fiesta in June, but inoculations across the country continue to lag behind expectations.

A paperwork mishap has caused second-dose appointments for thousands of Bexar County residents to be delayed two weeks. People whose second-dose vaccinations were slated for Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday are set to receive their inoculations on Feb. 16, 17, and 18, instead.

Anita Kurian, the San Antonio Metropolitan Health District’s assistant director, said Monday that shipment of the vaccine doses was delayed because of a slow migration of a paper-based State record system to an electronic database.

“We spent the whole weekend talking to the State,” Kurian said. “They are working feverishly to get caught up [moving] a paper-based migration into the electronic system. So, moving forward, we hope that this issue will not arise.”

Nirenberg said the City continues to make the case to the White House that the federal government should supply vaccines directly to cities instead of charging the states with distribution.

A thousand homebound local residents age 65 and older will get vaccinated each week thanks to a new local program. The City will work with Meals on Wheels San Antonio and the San Antonio Housing Authority to sign up eligible residents, Nirenberg said. He added San Antonio is the first city in the state to vaccinate residents through this program.

It’s been a year since Americans living in China were evacuated to U.S. military installations, including Joint Base San Antonio–Lackland. That same day, the San Antonio Report published a story in which local doctors and health experts urged San Antonians to pay closer mind to flu season than the coronavirus. It feels like a lifetime ago.

Although there were signs on Monday that the post-holiday surge is beginning to subside, Metro Health reported 2,376 more coronavirus cases. Due to a delay in reporting from State labs, officials said, Monday’s case total is essentially an aggregate of Sunday’s and Monday’s totals.

The rate of positive tests declined again last week by 4.5 percentage points. The positivity rate has decreased each week since the beginning of the year, a hopeful sign that the worst of the surge is behind us. But at 11.4% the virus remains very much present in San Antonio, Kurian said.

“What the positivity test is saying that we still have widespread community transmission, and the rates of new infections in our community are still highly prevalent,” she said.

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

  • 175,530 total cases, 2,376 new cases
  • 2,152 deaths, nine new deaths
  • 1,171 in hospital, 13% beds available
  • 399 patients in intensive care
  • 244 patients on ventilators, 51% ventilators available
  • 129,053 residents vaccinated (at least one dose)

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