A lot of the country is seeing a third wave and/or surge in the virus right now. San Antonio is trying to keep things together, but it’s hard given some of the conditions at present. Schools, at university level and below, are letting students in at quick rates, far quicker than is wise, but the public school system at least doesn’t have a choice in the matter per the state education department. Ever since the schools opened up in early September, we’ve seen our decreasing numbers flatten out and then start increasing again. It’s a slow trend so far, and technically we’re on a plateau now, but the city leaders are definitely preparing for another surge – especially as so much of the rest of TX is seeing that surge begin. It feels like we’re in “buckle up, it’s about to get wild” territory again, and frankly that just makes me really tired. I hope our area can keep it together and continue our plateau, if not lower it further. We’ll see.
Week 30 – Oct 2nd to 8th: 59,323 cases; 1,171 deaths. Moving daily average this week was 144 cases (up a bit). Our positivity rate is currently at 4.9% – first time under 5% in months – but our 14-day case trend is currently on a slight incline and hospitals have been seesawing around the same numbers for weeks now. Makes it difficult to understand how schools are announcing that after only three days at Phase 3, they’re already moving to Phase 4 (20 kids per class) next week. “Phase 3 is going well,” they say. Um, dudes, it takes several weeks to know if this is going well! But considering they’ve gone from all-virtual to Phase 4 in less than a month, I’m not surprised by the announcement – nor am I surprised to learn that over 100 people have now been diagnosed with covid in the schools, half of which are students. Sigh.
The big news this week is that a pair of philanthropists in SA have partnered with the city to provide mass asymptomatic testing. Their lab was already helping poorer school districts with mass covid-testing with 24-hour turnaround, but they now have full FDA/CDC testing approval to do this on a larger scale, and are phasing it in to test over 12k folks a day if the demand is there for it. It’s really incredible what people can do if they use their massive wealth for the good of the community!! On the other end of things, a less charitable bajillionaire here – Pastor John Hagee, who runs a major megachurch and who has refused to follow any safety regulations, not to mention he sued to be able to open his church’s private schools despite the risks – has reaped the rewards of his narcissistic behavior and is now stricken with covid. Does that sound callous? Oh well. The man has said covid is God’s way of punishing the wicked, so fuck him.
Other news includes the discovery that city sanitation employees are cramming ten-to-a-van without masks (UGH), the governor is allowing bars to reopen if county judges opt in (thankfully ours isn’t yet), and the city isn’t canceling trick-or-treating (just providing guidelines for safety). At home, we actually had a bit of a riskier week, tbh: Ambrose spent the weekend with his friend Tyler, then Tyler came over for a few hours Sunday; my friends Nat and Chris came over Saturday; there were vet interactions for Ash; and my dental cleaning (can’t wear a mask for that!). (PS – masks were worn and we kept physically distant during all visits!)
Week 31 – Oct 9th to 15th: 60,258 cases, 1,209 deaths. Moving daily average this week was 134 cases, and our hospital levels have popped up to over 200 patients again. Our positivity rate is up slightly to 5.8%, following the same slightly-upward trend that has been going on for the last few weeks. It means that the recommendation for schools is no more than 6 folks to a classroom, but since they’re already at 15-about-to-be-20, I doubt the schools are going to pay any attention Metro Health. It’s really frustrating that the TEA took away the health authority’s jurisdiction on this. (Also found out this week that apparently all kids who want to be back in physical schools can return next week, as that’s the deadline TEA gave schools regardless of regional outbreak. Grr. Thank goodness that our district is still giving people the option to go virtually if wanted. And yes, Laurence will continue his schooling virtually!) We had some further stats info given out this week, regarding the entire first six months of the pandemic:
- more than 1 in 5 cases (22%) in our county come from people in their 20s, and our pediatric rate (cases under age 20) remains around 15-16%
- 75% of all cases are from Hispanic folks even though they only make up 60% of the city’s population (and some people claim systemic racism doesn’t exist…)
- 20% of all hospitalizations have resulted in death
- 70% of deaths are from folks with underlying conditions, especially diabetes (at which point, frickin’ Judge Wolff immediately equated “diabetes” with “obesity” and went on to again claim that obese people don’t exercise or eat well, fucking asshole…so I’m bringing back this photo from a few months ago –> )
Now let’s compare once again two rich folks and how they’re handling the pandemic. A former Spurs basketball player is hosting a large Halloween party here at a bar, despite all regulations. Face. Slam. On the other side, the owner of Shiner Beer Brewery is contributing $1m to the private lab that’s doing all the asymptomatic testing for schools. Who do you prefer?? Ugh.
Other news: The county judge decided to open bars after all, under specific strict guidelines. Probably barely matters given that 2500 of 3000 bars here already converted to “restaurant” status, and at the moment, only 10 of the remaining have applied for reopening. Early voting started this week, which meant super long lines outdoors in the heat with everyone trying to space six feet apart. I was able to vote; Jason is planning to do so next week. Schools here saw an increase in covid cases (as expected given the quick filling of classrooms!), which led to games and events being canceled or delayed. (Because of course football is still happening here – football is an integral part of high school in TX!) I’m not sure how they’re going to have a full season, though, just like watching all the NFL games get delayed and pushed out for the same reasons. It just doesn’t seem plausible to continue on like this! It’s a weird balance between trying to be safe and having some sense of normality.
On the home-front: Jason’s brother and his wife traveled down to Mexico on vacation this week on tickets they bought pre-pandemic. I had no idea Mexico would even allow visitors from the US at this point, and I was astonished that they actually went! We had another workman over, this time to fix the less-than-a-month-old dishwasher (the pump cracked, apparently). My cousin’s kid was tested for covid after developing flu symptoms; thankfully it came back negative. My grandfather is having a lot of major medical issues and it’s not looking good.
Week 32 – Oct 16th to 22nd: 64,014 cases, 1,232 deaths. Moving daily average this week is at 168 cases – numbers are definitely on the rise as this is the highest it’s been for awhile. Positivity rate didn’t change since last week. Hospitals are seeing a fluctuating change right around 200 people, not going down at all anymore. None of this bodes well! We have definitely plateaued, if not worse.
But San Antonio continues on. In fact, two major events are currently planning to go on as normal, with minimal changes for safety. The first is the Rock and Roll Marathon in December. They’ll stager start times, but there are thousands of people who participate in this, not to mention spectators. The second is the annual SA Stockshow and Rodeo in February. Much of this takes place outdoors, and the rest is moving outdoors, but it still draws hundreds of thousands of visitors and I can’t think it’s even slightly safe…hopefully there’ll be a vaccine by that time! Otherwise, the library system announced that it’s moving to Phase 3 of reopening, which as far as I can tell just means that the computers will be open by appointment only at all branches (instead of just a handful). I’m still trying to find out if this means they’re accepting volunteers now, because I’d really like to start doing that.
On the home-front: Jason got to vote this week. Laurence had his wisdom teeth surgery and that went well. Six students at our local high school tested positive for covid this week, so we’re SO glad that Laurence is still doing virtual classes! I had my first eating-in-a-restaurant experience since the pandemic hit us in March, a little sandwich shop in Bandera after a hike. Bandera County (the whole county, not just the one small town) has only had 178 cases and 8 deaths total during the pandemic, so this was relatively safe, though I admit that it was really unsettling that the employees weren’t bothering with masks. Neither were the customers (obviously they wouldn’t wear them while eating, but they didn’t wear them before/after either!). There was clearly no occupancy limit, either. We were the only ones in there when we arrived, but by the time we left, almost every table was taken. Oy.
Just trying to brace ourselves right now. It feels like we’re on the edge of a precipice, the same as it felt near the end of May when everyone kept saying that our increasing numbers were due to backlog, and yet the hospital numbers were going up, too. I’d really like to be able to continue our small, distanced hikes, and to see a few friends and family in safe ways. I’d like to maybe have my family over on the deck, if it’s finished, for Thanksgiving, outside and with masks and such, and that can’t happen if covid is exploding all over the place again. I know better than to hope people will be less risky, and I also know that some people flat-out don’t have a choice. It’s not like the government is helping all that much with lost wages or housing situations or anything. So I just have to hope that one of these hundreds of vaccine trials in the works will lead us to safety soon. And also that the election brings us competent leadership in a few weeks.