So. San Antonio is under heavy covid assault, a surge that is still toward its beginning and has already surpassed last July, and is likely only a week or two off from topping the January surge. Literally five weeks ago, we were in good shape. Delta is an incredibly contagious and potent variant, and now makes up 99% of new cases in Bexar County. With the hardheadedness of unvaccinated folks and the distribution of extreme misinformation, this is just going to keep getting worse. Buckle up.
For some very basic information from the last two weeks:
- Week 73 (ended 8/5): 248,184 cases, 3,624 deaths, 1,249 seven-day average (up over 500 per day in less than a week); 19.9% positivity rate (up 2.9%)
- Week 74 (ended 8/12): 257,794 cases, 3,658 deaths, 1,322 seven-day average, 21.4% positivity rate
Vaccinations: As of yesterday, almost 80% of the eligible population here had received their first dose, and 64.5% have had their full doses. That sounds better than it really is – at the end of Week 67 (6/24), those numbers were at 73% and 58%. It hasn’t increased that much, especially given how crazy things have been over those seven weeks, but they did say this week that they’re starting to see an increase of 10-11k per week, thank goodness! Last week, I read that about 400k eligible folks in SA were still fully unvaccinated. Notably, the adult population with the lowest vaccinated percentage is the 19-29 year old age range.
Hospitals: Currently, we have 1267 folks in the hospital with 327 in ICU. At the end of June, there were around 140 people in the hospital, period, with less than 50 in ICU. The situation there is BAD. For example: There is an 11-month old in the hospital right now, as well as a four-year-old on a ventilator. !!! In fact, our news briefing last night said that 15% of yesterday’s hospital admissions were pediatric cases under 12 years old. Oy.
Of course, the majority of folks in the hospital are unvaccinated – latest number is 88%. The remaining 12% include folks who have only had a single dose as well as any full breakthrough cases. Only 5% of total covid cases are fully breakthrough (we were not told how many of these ended up in the hospital.) Deaths remain 99.5% among the unvaccinated, with only six breakthrough case deaths in our county. All six were among folks with multiple underlying conditions.
Things have gotten a bit exciting (aka convoluted and insane) here in SA. Here are a few highlights before I get to the big news:
Since the end of July, we’ve gone from “moderate” to “severe” levels, and I’d guess by next week or so, we’ll be in “critical.” Our hospitals are under extreme stress without enough staff to take care of patients. There have been so many 911 calls in for covid emergencies that on Wednesday this week, there was a full half hour where not a single EMS transport was available in the entire city. Not for traffic accidents, heart attacks, or any other reason. Hospitals have had to cut off elective surgeries again. Covid patients are being shunted into maternity wards because of the lack of beds. One hospital literally has ZERO pediatric ICU beds left. To make things worse, nurses are now being verbally and physically assaulted by patients and their families. They’ve literally had knives pulled on them and had to call police to come out. The hospitals are becoming a war zone.
Daily website updates have restarted – they were weekly since early June – and news briefs have popped up again twice a week just this week. A bunch of new events that had recently been announced have already been canceled or postponed. A new emergency alert popped up on all our phones on the 4th. The antibody treatment center re-opened after months of being shut down for lack of need. The state, which had for weeks refused to request help in the form of extra hospital staff, finally this week requested federal aid. The moratorium on evictions was set to expire and was saved at the 11th hour, with new protection until at least October.
But here’s the big one. The city and county filed a lawsuit challenging Abbott’s authority to suspend state laws that give local officials the authority to make emergency mandates in their area. It also asked for a temporary restraining order against the mandate, which if granted, would allow them to make a mask mandate for city/country employees and visitors, including public schools. The TRO was granted on Tuesday, and by that evening, a limited mask mandate was put in place.
In terms of schools, all students, staff, and visitors aged 2+ must wear a mask indoors. Schools must conduct contact tracing, notify parents in case of close contact, and quarantine folks who had close contact. Considering that the guidance from the Texas Education Agency (below) says that schools need to do LESS for covid than they have to do for lice, this is a big (if temporary) win. The situation will be revisited on Monday, at which time the TRO could be converted into a permanent injunction. That would of course be appealed and so on up the food chain, but at least when school starts on Monday, masks will be required regardless of vaccination status.
Texas and beyond
Several counties across TX have filed similar lawsuits and also been granted various levels of legal protection against Abbott’s stupidity. School districts across the state have come out and said they will openly defy his order regardless of legality. Public universities across the state are begging the government to let them make their own rules according to the situation in their area, but Abbot refuses to listen. Instead, he continues to yell his head off about personal freedom, and has passed increasingly strict regulations. He’s literally made it into law that private businesses can’t require masks or vaccines for employees if they do any business with the government. Any teacher who so much as asks a student to mask can be fined and fired. Any government official who defies his mandate can be immediately removed from office. (Judge Wolfe’s response: “If anyone needs to be removed from office, it’s the governor.”) All these mandates have President Biden opening criticizing Abbott, saying he should at least get out of the way if he won’t help. For a politician who claims to believe in the government staying out of everyone’s business, he sure wants to control every single aspect of the state!
But Texas is what it is. Texas and Florida – who seem to be in a hold-my-beer competition for how bad things can get in their states – how make up 1/3rd of all cases in the US. Only 44% of eligible Texas are fully vaccinated, and last week, a 45-year-old politician who liked to post “covid isn’t real” and “vaccine conspiracy” memes died of covid just a few days after contracting it. This sounds like a broken record by now, it’s happened so many times.
On the home-front
Most of what we’re dealing with at home right now is back-to-work and back-to-school. It does seem like a really weird time to implement these things, given the severity, but it is what it is. Jason is now going into work twice a week. Laurence starts school next Monday. He already went to a week of drama camp at the school, as well as getting school photos (pictured – this is what he had to wear, heh), supply shopping, etc. And he wore a mask through it all. My kid wears a mask even at the gym, which makes me such a proud mom. He wore it even during June when the rest of us relaxed a bit. Ambrose, who also wears a mask when he goes out, will begin a new semester at college, on campus this time, the week after that. Right now, the current TRO does not cover public higher education campuses, so they can’t require masks. I just hope Ambrose can stay safe.
Some good notes: Our school district immediately changed their guidelines to comply with the new order, and additionally set out a way for immunocompromised students who can’t get the vaccine to have virtual learning (despite the state refusing funding for this). Also, my little sister is off to college at Berkeley, where they require vaccines, masks, and tests for all students. Because, you know, they’re not insane or stupid or duped. Hopefully, she’ll be safe.
I’m so sick of misinformation and lies, y’all. I had a very frustrating conversation with my mom recently where she told me that the virus is only spreading through vaccinated folks now, because vaccine antibodies are where mutations come from. There’s really no explaining that that’s not really how science works. Sigh. Even worse, I had to drop a facebook acquaintance after she started spouting flat-out lies on my page. She claimed that 1) she was currently in the hospital and extremely ill with covid and pneumonia (and yet posting on FB??), 2) that she was the only unvaccinated covid patient there (sure…), and 3) all those poor vaccinated folks with covid looked just as bad as her except they felt worse because the government betrayed them by putting this poison in their bodies and telling them it would keep them safe when clearly it did no such thing. Oh, and 4) that the nurses were trying to convince her to get a covid shot but she refused, which is complete BS because you can’t get a covid shot while you’re in an active covid infection. I told a friend about her post, and her response was, “That sounds real,” and I couldn’t stop laughing. But seriously: goodbye, spreader-of-lies. I’m so done.
I guess we’ll see where this lawsuit goes. The governor is trying to go around the district court because he worries about his chances in the legal system. It’s going to be a dog fight either way. Gah. I’m so tired of this, y’all. Just get your damn vaccine and wear your mask and STFU so we can all get back to real life already.
Also: weekly Quarantine Diaries posts will have to resume. Sigh.