Hello everyone! I hope you’ve been well, and that things have been improving in your areas. There’s a lot in this post, as it encompasses three weeks of change and data, so I’ll just say up front (in case you want to skip the rest): things have mostly continued to get better over the last few weeks, though the past few days have seen some worrisome trends. Fingers crossed that it’s a small blip and not the start of something more!
When last I posted, the numbers were trending downward in SA. We ended Week 22 with 43,673 cases, a daily average of 248 cases, and 560 total deaths (several hundred more in the verification process). Here is what the last three weeks have brought us:
- Week 23: 44,641 cases (+968), daily average of 138, 677 deaths (+117)
- Week 24: 45,811 (+1,170), daily average of 167, 767 deaths (+90) **Note: 205 cases were added this week due to a coding error from Walgreens, with all cases being prior to this week (mostly from July). Taking that into account, actual totals were +965 cases, or 138 daily average (same as previous week)
- Week 25: 47,070 (+1,259), daily average of 180, 851 deaths (+84)
As you can see, Week 23 continued our downward trend, but we flattened out in Week 24, and increased in Week 25. There may be some reasons for the increase (discussed below), but it’s still worrisome. I would hate for there to be another sudden increase like in June! Also, our death numbers continue to look high, though the majority of them are coming from that verification process and go back as far as early June. It’s still an astonishing overall number, though, and led to Bexar County getting a particular negative distinction (also below).
Every week, the city calculates a number of factors to track our progress with covid. These have continued to mostly improve over the last three weeks. Our positivity rate kept dropping – to 11.3% for week 23, down to 9.9%, then down to 7.8% this week. Our doubling rate shot up to 40 days in weeks 23 and 24, and even further upwards to 65 days this week! Pediatric cases remained steady at 16% for weeks 23 and 24, but haven’t been updated since Aug 24th so I don’t know where they are right now. Hospital trends (pic) have continued to improve, too, down to under 400 people in the hospital and under 100 on ventilators. Notably, though, the last few days show a slight flattening off or increase in ICU numbers, which combined with the increase in daily case numbers this past week, worries me quite a bit. People, behave!! Note: There’s a possibility this is related to a localized outbreak at a drug treatment center, but I’m not sure there are enough cases there to account for the full increase.
It’s hard to say what the grand totals are for August since so many cases and deaths reported during the month went back all the way to June. However, from a purely numbers perspective, we had 5,638 total cases reported in August, for a daily average of 182 cases, and a total of 460 reported deaths. On the one hand, the cases reported in August is an astounding drop from July’s 28,738 cases (927 daily average). On the other, the deaths reported in August make up 57% of the total deaths reported since mid-March. Of course, most of those deaths go back months, so the number is so skewed that it’s hard to tell what to think. Either way, most of the data for August shows continuous progress back into safer territory.
So over the last three weeks, things have generally continued on the down-swing, beyond the little bit of ticking up in the past few days. Hopefully said ticking up will get under control quickly and we won’t go through what we went through in June/July. I’m sick of that. If everyone would just minimize their outings, refrain from seeing people outside their houses/support group, and wear their damn masks, we’d be okay. At least the masks are starting to become normalized. Some people are still pulling them below their noses in defiance (Image credit: Philadelphia Inquirer), but it’s better than it used to be. San Antonio has actually dropped from severe risk (July), to high (week 22), to moderate, and now we’re on the borderline between moderate and safe! On this upcoming holiday weekend, all city/county parks will be closed to try to prevent too much gathering outside the home. This worked well over Easter and 4th of July, and we all saw what happened when the city didn’t do this over Memorial Weekend, so it’s good they’re taking this precaution again.
Of course, the big worry is school-related. Next week starts in-person school for many districts, including ours. Laurence is set for virtual-only this semester, but the school itself is letting in five students per classroom. Ironically, those students will be doing virtual school in the classroom since they can’t move from room to room, at least at the middle and high school levels (elementary is different of course). It’s still a potential disaster. Boerne School District, which is just north of SA and which opened weeks ago in defiance of local health orders, was already reporting rapid covid spread within two days of bringing in students. How stupid can you be?? We knew this would happen! Even in our school district, where there have been no students gathered yet, there were eight cases among staff on campus in mid-August, five of which were from local schools that our boys have attended in the past. !!! So glad Laurence will stay virtual!
Unfortunately, I have one major point of negative news to note: Our county has the distinction of the highest per capita death rate in TX’s urban areas (roughly 51 of every 100,000 people). Um, yay? Notably, in the Rio Grande Valley rural areas where covid is out of control, the death rate is more than triple Bexar county’s rate, at 158 of every 100k people. It’s no surprise to anyone who knows anything that this is hitting hardest in areas of high poverty and vulnerable minority populations, like the Rio Grande Valley and other deep south areas. It’s a bit alarming to see how bad things are here, though, especially as we were doing really well on these numbers until June. (Maybe, I guess. Maybe not, given the ongoing verification issue…)
Other points to note:
- A doctor here is creating a longterm covid recovery facility for patients who are still sick but not sick enough for hospital care, which is becoming increasingly common
- two more deaths of children/teens in the past three weeks
- the SA airport is the first in the world to get a LightStrike Robot to combat covid
- Alamo Drafthouse reopened one of its locations here on Aug 26th!
- San Antonio helped thousands of hurricane evacuees toward the end of August, and things went fairly well (though we had some trouble with evacuees who wouldn’t wear masks – come to think of it, this may have something to do with the increase in numbers as well!)
- Scammers have now come out of the woodwork as fake contact tracers, trying to get people to pay them or provide personal data for identity theft.
- Gordon Hartman, founder of the Morgan’s Wonderland accessible theme park, apparently recovered from covid recently. He’s a major philanthropist in SA and has been on the committee that is helping with economic recovery. As soon as he was able, he donated recovery plasma! His COO at Morgan’s Wonderland also recovered from covid and donated plasma at the same time. (Photo of Hartman above: credit to KTSA)
On the home-front
We’re starting to see life return to a limited and somewhat-altered version of pre-covid life here. With masks becoming normalized, and more businesses both taking precautions and offering different services, it’s been easier and safer to do things we couldn’t before. The economy is still hit badly, of course – I saw some statistics the other day about in-person dining now vs six months ago, even though restaurants are allowed to seat at 50% occupancy – but it feels like the dust is starting to settle for the time being. Over the last three weeks, several things have happened that haven’t happened in the previous almost-six months:
I’ve been to our local grocery store twice, which I hadn’t stepped foot into since March 16th. It now feels safe enough for me to do the shopping, so that I can go in the morning on a weekday when it’s less crowded. Dunkin’ has opened its lobby for in-person orders (though you can’t stay to eat/drink), and so Laurence and I have gone in each week for drinks. The two of us also spent some time out at a thrift store, which we both enjoy, and where I finally found brown boots! I’ve had a masked massage. Jason and I went to Walmart for the first time in months. Morrigan’s girlfriend came over for dinner and some video games, during which time we all kept our distance and wore masks except when eating. Half Price Books has opened up to donations again on certain days, soon to be without an appointment beforehand. Jason and Morrigan ate inside a restaurant up in Kansas when they went up to drop Morrigan at school. (The last time I ate inside a restaurant was March 13th!) I spent some time alone in the house recently for the first time in six months. My boys and I are planning to see a movie at Alamo Drafthouse in the near future, at a less-busy time of day, because they’ve been amazing about supporting their employees during this time.
Of course, not everything feels entirely back to normal. Jason took Morrigan up to school instead of both of us, because the travel was safer with only one parent. The whole family got our flu shots in the last few weeks, far earlier than we normally would, as an extra precaution. Four of us have started virtual classes instead of in-person school. Jason and I both gave blood, which came with free covid antibody tests (we were both negative). One of Jason’s coworkers contracted and recovered from covid. Both of my grandparents have had continued health problems that keep putting them at more and more risk, and they aren’t being as safe as we’d like them to be. I still haven’t seen most of my family since my cousin’s wedding in February. Thank goodness for technology and social media, or I’d feel insane!
I’m honestly not sure what the next little while is going to look like, especially with some uncertainty in our current case trends. I hope so much that we’ll have a vaccine early in the new year. It would be great earlier, but I’m skeptical. Even early 2021 will be a super fast turnaround for vaccine creation! But with the next few months of holidays ahead of us, I can’t help but think about how Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas might look. Probably more Zoom, like my nephew’s birthday party this weekend. As I said above, I’m thankful for technology, but yeah, I’m tired, too. I miss people. I miss not having to worry all the time.