Quarantine Diaries – Weeks 26-29

It’s been fairly quiet in terms of the pandemic here for the past month. September 13th saw the six-month mark pass since our first case of Covid. Things are holding steady, and we’re all trying to figure out a good balance between keeping as much open as possible while also keeping safe.

TBH, I’m kinda sick of people whining. Suck it up, a$$holes. It usually takes two years for a vaccine to come out and things won’t be safe again until then. So until a safe and effective vaccine comes out, let’s all stay home as much as possible, wear our masks, keep our bubbles small, etc, and try to adapt to things like curbside pickup and occupancy limits and online shopping. It sucks to miss a year of vacation – trust me, I know; Jason and I had our 20th anniversary vacation canceled! – and to have events canceled and to not be able to hug friends and family when we have socially-distanced gatherings. I know. It sucks for everyone. But what sucks worse is letting businesses keep failing because we have to keep locking them down, and even worse than that is when people keep getting sick and dying because people can’t deal with first-world problems like missing a haircut or going down to the bar. Six months into this thing, and I’m 1000% over being sympathetic at all for selfish, whiny jerks. Sorry not sorry.

I’ll be honest: The city has changed how they calculate their numbers. Nearly every week, there’s one day when a backlog of thousands of cases is added to our totals, as well as the backlog in confirmed deaths. Some of these backlogs go back months, some are more recent. It’s impossible to give accurate numbers under these conditions. I’ve read that the entire state is using an antiquated system that has had trouble coping with the influx of data. (September 21st and 22nd, for instance, saw over 20k cases reported to the state’s numbers from a backlog in Houston.) Apparently this has contributed to a lot of false information over time, including a statewide positivity rate back in the spring that was far underestimating true cases/rates, which led to the early reopening plan, which led to the June spike…sigh.

Anyway. In grand totals with the information I have, San Antonio is ending these four weeks (Week 29, ending 10/1) at 57,936 cases and 1,136 deaths. I obviously can’t give accurate monthly numbers, either, so I have no idea how September compared to previous months. I will say that most of these backlogs have been attributed to July, which means that our numbers were even more insane that month than we realized! The above graph represents daily case numbers in Bexar County by event date (rather than reported date) since this pandemic began.

Daily moving average: My last Quarantine Diaries ended on Week 25 of this plague, on 9/3, with a daily average of around 180 cases – a slight uptick from previous weeks that had an average of 138 daily. Over the last four weeks, our daily moving average has been:

  • Week 26 (9/10): 127
  • Week 27 (9/17): 128
  • Week 28 (9/24): 153
  • Week 29 (10/1): 167

Note that these numbers don’t include any backlogged cases, but just the week’s worth as the city gives them. Thankfully, they’re reporting the 7-day moving average during every new brief now (they happen each weeknight). Week 28 is when we began to see numbers come in from the Labor Day weekend holiday and the minimal return to in-person school around the city. The uptick was expected, but far less than feared. Let’s hope it doesn’t continue to go up!

Weekly trackers:

  • Positivity rate: down to 6.7% (wk26), to 6% (wk27), to 6.4% (wk28), to 5.9% (wk 29)
  • Doubling rate: This increased from 65 days to 90+ days during this period.
  • Pediatric rate: These numbers were finally updated in Week 27 after weeks with no data, and remained just shy of 16%. It hasn’t been updated since, so this looked like they’re switching the number to a monthly progression, which seems a bit silly tbh.
  • Hospital trends: Trends continued to drop in the hospitals, until about a week after Labor Day and in-person school starting, at which point it started to tick up. It is currently stabilizing, and will hopefully start dropping again soon. Pic is the graph from weeks 26-28. Blue line is hospitalizations, yellow is ICU, white is folks on ventilators.

Local news
Let me start with a discussion of schools. In-person school began in most districts on September 8th, after the Labor Day holiday. I can’t say what each of the districts are doing for their phasing in process, but I imagine many of them look similar to our district (which is one of the three largest in SA). Our district allowed only five students per classroom with no transitioning between classes in older grades. Just recently, due to the continued improvement in trends (but before the Labor Day data came in – they just didn’t wait long enough…), that changed to ten students per classroom, and starting next week, fifteen per (sigh). The next phase, when it comes, will involve kids actually transitioning between classes, which means exposure to different students at each class period, and potentially more exposure. Last week, the TEA reported the number of cases among students and staff across the state. As of 9/24, there were 86 cases of covid in SA schools – 21 from students and 65 from staff. Our school district specifically had 11 cases from students, 14 from staff, on that day. I haven’t been able to get any information since, despite the TEA saying the numbers would come out weekly.

With the limited number in classrooms, many parents are on waiting lists to get their kids back into in-person school. This is especially difficult in areas with young kids, two working parents, and very little resources (including internet access and enough food). So the city is setting up eight virtual learning hubs in disadvantaged areas to open next week. Each hub will allowed students in during the weekdays and will provide wifi, free lunch, and access to teachers for help, all while keeping the kids spaced apart and safe. It seems like a good compromise and I’m glad the city is using some of its little remaining resources to help in areas that are being disproportionally affected by the virus! Other folks have come forward too – a group of philanthropists have founded a private lab to do pre-emptive covid screening for schools (beginning, I believe, with the poorest school district here). This lab will have a 24-hour turnaround on tests and are meant to help stop asymptomatic spread.

Statewide, the governor has increased capacity at many businesses (restaurants, gyms, offices, museums, libraries, manufacturing, and retail), while thankfully NOT opening bars again yet. He also thankfully didn’t remove the mask mandate. (Speaking of masks, I had to laugh over the Labor Day weekend when our mayor got all cheeky on social media with messages that said nothing but, “The mask goes over your nose.” Ha!) San Antonio is following suit the governor’s lead – likely because we dropped into the “safe” zone on 9/8 and have managed to stay there since then. Playgrounds and park facilities have reopened, there’s no longer a ten-person maximum on gatherings in city parks, and Fitness in the Park classes are supposed to resume by the end of October. Announcement about the libraries is supposed to come soon.

Other noteworthy local news:

  • the local MLK march for 2021 has already announced it’ll be virtual this January
  • we’ve had several days over the last month with no new deaths to report, yay!!
  • a local pediatric nurse practitioner recovered from covid after 56 days in a coma
  • not quite local, but the republican chair in TX is suing the governor to take away the extra week of early voting he granted us, grr…

On the home-front
It has been nice to feel a bit safer around here. We’re still taking precautions of course, but we’ve also been trying to get a few things taken care of that have been put off for a time. Dental appointments (can’t do that with a mask!). My annual women’s exam that was supposed to be in April, then July. Group hikes (limited to six people, requiring masks and physical distancing). Things aren’t normal, but they’re getting as close as they can be until a vaccine is here. Hey, Ambrose even got to spend the weekend with his friend Tyler for Tyler’s birthday – the first time they’ve seen each other in person since early March. (We see Tyler every weekend via Skype for the boys’ Dungeons and Dragons game.)

Of course, it’s not all normal. Have you watched the football games with no crowds and piped-in crowd noises? It’s weird. But still nice to watch at all – I hope they get to keep playing, because it provides a little semblance of normal in with all the weird. Like: My nephew Rory’s 3rd birthday party was done via Zoom because my sister and her husband both work in schools and there have been too many potential Covid exposures in her area. (In fact, Rory has spent the last two weeks at home because of exposure at daycare, and my sister has been working with no assistant – she’s an athletic trainer at a high school – because of the assistant’s potential exposure.) Then there’s my mom, who is back working at my aunt’s preschool/daycare, with young kids full of runny noses and coughs (“it’s just allergies,” the parents claim), and a coworker whose daughter tested positive for the regular flu. Sigh. Doesn’t help that my aunt is mask-refuser so the teachers aren’t even wearing them at this school, and my mom refuses to get a flu shot. (Yes, she’s also said she won’t get a covid vaccine either. Oh, my family…)

So far, my immediate family has remained fairly unscathed despite the increase in our potential exposure (including a dozen different workmen-and-women inside our house, some of whom kept their masks under their noses!). I’m really glad Laurence is staying virtual for school, because we got notice recently that there were two students at his specific high school that tested positive. !!! Even Morrigan, up on campus in Kansas, is doing better than expected – we accidentally FaceTimed him when he was out walking, and he had his mask on! I’ve watched his roommate put on a mask just to leave their room to get his laundry. And at the dining hall where Morrigan works, a covid exposure on a different floor led to the entire building and food services department shutting down for a full two weeks, so the campus seems to be taking the situation very seriously. Whew! Now let’s hope we can all continue to stay vigilant and safe in what I’m going to call the “temporary normal” rather than the “new normal.”

Moving forward
Just more vigilance, and hopefully not a third wave in TX as is currently predicted…

And I just heard that the Prumpster has now contracted covid, and I admit that I’m terrified of what that’s going to do to the next month of this already nightmarish political climate…

About Amanda

Agender empty-nester filling my time with cats, books, fitness, and photography. She/they.
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