Following Gov. Greg Abbott’s Wednesday announcement about the statewide distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine, San Antonio hospital systems are expecting the vaccine to arrive sometime the week of Dec. 14, the city’s top health official confirmed on Thursday.
Colleen Bridger, assistant city manager and interim San Antonio Metropolitan Health District director, said that 10 health care entities in Bexar County will receive doses beginning that week to provide their workers.
“The distribution plan is being put together as I speak, and so we hope we’ll have more details to be able to share with everybody on Monday,” Bridger said.
Bridger has provided notice to the City that her last day will be Jan. 17. The Metro Health interim director was asked her thoughts on what attributes a candidate to replace her in that role should possess.
“The health department is filled with a tremendous number of public health professionals, and what we need at the helm is somebody who is able to represent that talent well, communicate the importance of public health, manage all of the competing and growing priorities, and continue to build back up the morale of the staff who’ve been working just exceedingly hard for the last almost year,” she said. “We need a stellar manager, a stellar leader who can come in and really take the helm and take the health department to the next level.”
Mayor Ron Nirenberg said there would be a national search for her replacement, as is done with any high-level position at the City.
The vaccine is set to be administered first to hospital workers on the front lines of the pandemic and long-term facility patients such as nursing home residents, and it likely won’t be available to the general public until late in the spring or early in the summer.
Nirenberg said he suspects the vaccine’s arrival won’t expedite the state’s plans for reopening. Virtually all Texas businesses are able to open at reduced capacity, but if enough Texans are immunized early next year, could that prompt Gov. Greg Abbott to expand capacity at certain businesses?
Nirenberg and other local leaders were displeased by the speed at which the state reopened earlier this year, a rushed process he said contributed to a surge in cases in the summer.
“I think we as a state learned our lesson and continue to do that,” he said. “So I would hope that the vaccine distribution timeline is on its own, and that we continue to watch these infections get under control before we open up too quickly.”
On Thursday, Bexar County reported 760 new cases of the coronavirus, bringing the seven-day average to 795 and the overall caseload to 83,885 over the course of the pandemic.
One more resident died from COVID-19: a Hispanic woman in her 80s. That brings the local death toll to 1,372.
Thirteen more COVID-19-positive residents of the county were receiving treatment at local hospitals on Thursday, with 198 of the 593 patients in intensive care and 104 on ventilators. Seventy patients are from the coronavirus-devastated city of El Paso.