When I left y’all at the end of week 74, SA had sued the state, gotten a temporary restraining order, and put in a mask mandate in schools. Since then, things continue to flip and flop and muddle about. On Friday, the attorney general asked the 4th court of appeals to knock down the TRO. However, it upheld the restraining order instead, clearing the way to keep the mask mandate through Monday’s court date. On Sunday evening, the TX supreme court put out an injunction to nullify the TRO pending Monday’s trial. The state argues that this means SA can’t have the mask mandate, while the city argues this doesn’t affect whether or not the health directive is still in place. Then on Monday, the lower court trial took place, and the district judge granted another injunction against the governor, making the restraining order permanent, pending appeals. The city said “yes, mask mandate” and the state says “our injunction is bigger than yours.” Last night, the 4th court of appeals upheld the order again, so the RO is in effect until the next court date, December 13th. Of course, if the TX Supreme Court rules against us again and puts a stop on this RO, then we’re back where we were a few days ago. Pretty much, we’re going to change policies every three days or so.
The state is arguing that our mask mandate will “shatter” TX’s ability to respond to pandemic, though he can’t (or won’t) say why. The city is arguing that the governor is using a law that is meant to invoke emergency measures, not take away our ability to use them. Other school districts and counties across the state are suing the government, or downright ignoring his orders (including several in SA). A county judge has been removed in Dallas for defying the state order. The attorney general of TX is suing one of the school districts in SA because they’re requiring vaccines for employees under the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. A school district in Paris, TX, has made masks part of their dress code to get around the governor’s order, since he has no authority over school board decisions or leadership. People are getting quite clever out there! Meanwhile, the TEA has swerved sideways and changed their policies, now saying that school districts MUST notify teachers, staff, and families of all positive cases from school.
There’s really just so much going on right now that it’s been hard to keep up.
In San Antonio numbers this week:
- Cases: 268,970 (+11,176)
- Deaths: 3,710 (+52)
- Seven-day rolling average: 1,597 (+275/day)
- Positivity rate: 16.9% (down 4.5%)*
- Hospitalizations: 1,382 patients including 371 in ICU; 6% available bed capacity; note that roughly 200+ new patients are admitted per day, and about 10% are children
- Vaccinations: 1,367,288 first dose (81.8%); 1,102,506 fully vaxxed (65.9%)**
*This is down because many schools went into session this week, so many employees were getting preemptive tests, bringing the overall positivity rate down.
**These percentages are of the eligible population – only around 50% of the full population of the city/county, including kids under 12, have been vaccinated.
The hospital situation is getting really bad. About a third of patients in the hospital are there for covid. Back in the winter, the state rule was that if the percentage of patients in hospital was over 15% for seven days in a row, capacity limits in restaurants etc had to be scaled back. But Abbott removed all of that when he banned masks in March, making it illegal to have limited occupancy level, so things just get worse and worse and worse…
Delta now makes up almost 100% of new cases nationwide, including here. Texas and Florida make up 40% of all hospitalizations in the country (go, bro-states!). We now have refrigerated morgues hanging around because things are just about to the point of needing them – and our county is still only the fourth highest in the state! Hell, we even got downgraded from severe (worsening) to severe (steady) this week, and yet things are just so bad. We still can’t get people to get vaccines. The city is in the process of getting approval to offer $100 HEB gift cards to people just to get their vaccines, and the county is giving $1000 refunds on health insurance for county employees who are fully vaccinated by the end of October. We’re paying people to get vaccines now.
Meanwhile, for the rest of us out there… The FDA has approved a third dose for immunocompromised folks and will start allowing boosters for people eight months out from their second shot starting Sept 20th. I’ll be eligible October 1st and will get it ASAP! Even without a $100 gift card. I don’t want to mess with f-ing Delta! Or future variants.
At home this week, Laurence went back to school (in a mask regardless of policies!). Ambrose’s college announced that most of their classes will be virtual for the first two weeks minimum, and while masks are optional, all students and staff must get weekly covid screenings if they’re on campus. Ambrose is very sad about this development. He really detests online school. (I am also really sad, as well as relieved. Just forget that whole thing I said on Sunday about having a few hours to myself a few times a week.) This week was also the last week of Gignacery frivolous outings. We bought movie tickets to see Free Guy a weeks ago, when things weren’t so dire. I decided to drop out, but Jason and the boys still went, in masks. I’m sad that days of doing things like this again are once again over.
Of course, the biggest news at home this week is in our school district. TBH, they’ve been bungling the whole thing. Last week, they announced that masks were required per the city. Parents complained, but they stuck to it. Then on Sunday, within minutes of the Supreme Court ruling, they reverted back to optional (with a bit of begging people to wear them). When Monday sided back with the city, we received a notice that they decided the state’s win superseded the city’s, and since they didn’t want to pinball back and forth in their policies, they were keeping masks optional. I can appreciate the desire not to pinball, but I do wish they’d chosen to land on the side of safety. Especially since they called for an emergency safety meeting only two days after the latest announcement, set for late last night. We’ll know soon what decisions they made, if any, to require masks or not. Perhaps we’ll pinball after all. Again.
Honestly, after some of the things I’ve heard coming from our school district, it doesn’t surprise me that they’re being so ambivalent. Somehow, they managed to have 77 students and 122 staff come down with covid last week, even though school wasn’t yet in session. (That’s just from extracurriculars like band camp plus teacher workshops.) They also held a convocation ceremony at one high school with 500 EMPLOYEES in attendance, masks optional, at the beginning of last week, and several positive cases were in that crowd. So not only were 500 folks exposed, the district refused to do any contact tracing! They said it’s “too difficult” when people aren’t wearing masks. Really?? What if some of those 500 PEOPLE are staff at my son’s school?? They’re just allowed to come to work without restrictions? Possibly exposing thousands more students? UGH.
Now, to finish out this week: Governor Abbott has covid. Of course, he’s fully vaxxed and has no symptoms and immediately got a third dose before FDA approval and special regeneron antibody treatment, so he’ll be fine. But he got covid after a big, crowded, maskless GOP convention, so…why am I not surprised?