The U.S. is months away from having enough vaccine supply to inoculate all adults, officials have said.
The U.S. is months away from having enough vaccine supply to inoculate all adults, officials have said. Credit: Bonnie Arbittier / San Antonio Report

We are edging closer and closer to having enough vaccines for every adult who wants one. Gov. Greg Abbott said it. President Joe Biden said it.

And officials confirmed Thursday that the Alamodome will receive a new allotment of first doses to be administered next week, so be on the lookout for registration to open up in the next few days.

With each passing day, more people I know are getting vaccinated. Now that teachers, school workers, and child-care professionals are eligible for the shot, that number will multiply.

But registering for the vaccine – which has primarily been done online – has left many of the most vulnerable residents (people age 65 or older) at a disadvantage compared to their younger counterparts.

Some of San Antonio’s seniors have been getting assistance from “scheduling angels,” who use their technical savvy to help seniors sign up for the shot. Crowdsourcing has become the new solution, and Facebook isn’t the only platform local residents are utilizing.

The race to vaccinate Americans has intensified with a worsening surge in Brazil caused by the spread of a COVID-19 variant that is infecting Brazilians who have already had COVID-19.

It’s not easy to prevent the entrance of a coronavirus variant, even when travelers are symptomatic. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released a report showing how a traveler visiting family in the United Kingdom returned to his home in Corpus Christi after contracting the UK variant, according to a contact investigation.

The more transmissible variants are an ever-present threat, and the lifting of statewide COVID-19 regulations is ratcheting up coronavirus anxiety – right as the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel emerges with the promise of more vaccines.

I shot some questions over to Dr. Junda Woo, the San Antonio Metropolitan Health District’s medical director, for guidance on how residents can better protect themselves in the absence of a mask mandate. Here is that interview, lightly edited for style and brevity:

Q: How much does the recall of statewide orders hamper our ability as a community to stop the spread of COVID-19? 

JW: If we’re lucky, not much – over the last year, many of us have come to see that wearing a mask is responsible, common-sense, and courteous, so we’ll keep doing it. If we’re unlucky, then COVID variants will infect even people who were already infected and/or already vaccinated, and we can have a big surge all over again. This has already happened in Brazil.

Q: How concerned are you that the variants will proliferate in light of this measure? 

JW: A virus’s job is to mutate, so variants always happen. A variant by itself isn’t worrisome. What we don’t want are variants that are harder to treat or that can defeat our vaccines. The problem is that the virus spreads more easily among people who don’t wear masks. The more hosts that a virus has, the more opportunities it has to mutate. The more it mutates, the greater the odds of a dangerous mutation. We are in a race right now between vaccination and the variants.

Q: What are some practical tips, especially for those in vulnerable groups who have not been vaccinated, people can take to reduce their risk without COVID-19 protocols in place?

JW: Wear well-fitting, multilayered masks, and open windows or go outside whenever possible. Here’s CDC guidance on choosing a mask that fits you. … For higher-risk environments, I’d recommend a well-fitting mask that has at least two layers.

An increase of 242 coronavirus cases brought Bexar County’s seven-day average down, from 347 on Wednesday to 324 on Thursday. A white woman in her 50s and a white man in his 30s died of COVID-19 complications, Metro Health reported Thursday. The local death toll stands at 2,678.

COVID-19 hospitalizations in Bexar County fell below 400 for the first time since November on Thursday. With COVID-19 indicators improving, the local coronavirus risk level is mild, according to the City.

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

  • 197,497 total cases, 242 new cases
  • 2,678 deaths, two new deaths
  • 368 in hospital, 9% beds available
  • 136 patients in intensive care
  • 72 patients on ventilators, 67% ventilators available
  • 265,927 residents vaccinated (at least one dose)

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