The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is preparing public health officials around the country for the distribution of a coronavirus vaccine as early as this fall, local health officials said Wednesday.

The CDC’s guidance contains a plan to prioritize health care workers and other high-risk populations, as a vaccine could be ready for distribution by late October or early November, according to the New York Times. Dr. Sandra Guerra, San Antonio Metropolitan Health District assistant director, confirmed Metro Health received the CDC’s guidance.

“There is definitely a lot of hope around getting it sooner than later,” she said. “But I think at the end of the day, as a clinician and as a public health professional, we not only want a vaccine available, we want it to be safe and we want it to be effective.”

New coronavirus cases have inched up in the past two days following a late-summer slide.

With case counts of 222 and 250 on Tuesday and Wednesday, respectively, the seven-day rolling average in Bexar County positives climbed to 184 on Wednesday after hitting a two-month low on Monday.

At a Wednesday briefing, Mayor Ron Nirenberg said the increase shows the virus remains in the community, and residents must continue their work to contain it.

Hospitalizations decreased from 366 on Tuesday to 356 on Wednesday, as the number of COVID-19 patients in intensive care climbed by seven, and the number of patients on ventilators remained at 93. Area hospitals have hospital bed and ventilator capacities of 14 percent and 66 percent, respectively.

The COVID-19 death toll continues to grow as the Metro Health works to confirm death certificates sent to State officials.

Ages and ethnicities of the deceased

• 6 women of unknown ethnicity between ages 60 and 89

• 2 men of unknown ethnicity between ages 50 and 89

• 2 Hispanic men in their 50s

• 1 Hispanic woman in her 60s

• 1 white woman in her 60s

• 1 white man in his 60s

On Wednesday, 13 more deaths were confirmed, bringing the toll to 835. Among the fatalities were residents between ages 50 and 89; six of them came from a review of death certificates dated between July 14 and Aug. 30.

The Texas Department of State Health Services, however, reports that Bexar County residents have accounted for more than 1,100 deaths of the state’s COVID-19 fatalities. That gives the county the dubious status of having the highest mortality rate, per capita, of any of the state’s five most populous counties.

With a vast majority of the deceased stricken by preexisting health conditions such as asthma or diabetes, the counting of COVID-19 deaths presents a “complex picture,” Guerra said. Data from the CDC indicates 94 percent of COVID-19 deaths have been among people with underlying health conditions.

“The statistic that was released by the CDC demonstrates the complexity of death certificates and the monitoring of the causes of death,” Guerra said.

JJ Velasquez

JJ Velasquez

JJ Velasquez is a columnist at the San Antonio Report. A former reporter and editor at the SA Report, he currently works as a project manager for New York City-based Advance Local.