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April 23: San Antonio Officials Are Preparing For Gov. Abbott To Reopen The State

Many restaurants are maintaining their businesses by offering take out and curbside service, like P.F. Chang's in the Quarry.
Kathleen Creedon | Texas Public Radio
Many restaurants are maintaining their businesses by offering take out and curbside service, like P.F. Chang's in the Quarry.

This Post is Archived: Find the newest information on COVID-19 in San Antonio at the links below.

Texas Public Radio is updating the latest information on COVID-19 in the San Antonio area, along with how local businesses are adjusting, how you can help those in need and what you can do to stay entertained at home. TPR is also providing live updates on the Rio Grande Valley.

Here's what we know ...

Thursday, April 23

6:45 p.m. — 1,167 cases of COVID-19 confirmed in San Antonio area

Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff warned residents that if Texas Gov. Greg Abbott reopens the state, "don't think that the problem is over." The governor said he would allow retail stores to open as early as Friday.

Assistant City Manager Lori Houston explained how $25 million — approved by the city council today  — would be divided to help residents in need. After applying, San Antonio households with one individual can receive $150. For each additional person, $50 is added with a cap of $300. The money can be transferred to a bank account or loaded on prepaid debit cards.

City officials also announced the following updates:

  • 1,167 confirmed cases in the San Antonio area
  • 43 deaths in the San Antonio area
  • 36 confirmed cases in the Bexar County Jail

6:13 p.m. — Watch today's daily briefing


5:30 p.m. — San Antonio Food Bank to host drive on Friday

The San Antonio Food Bank will hold another mega food drive thru on Friday, April 24, at Toyota Field, beginning at 10 a.m.

Visitors must pre-register at safoodbank.org. To keep the line of vehicles moving, participants must clear out vehicle space in advance for loading, stay in their vehicles at all times and practice social distancing.

The next mega food drive thru will be on Tuesday, April 28, at Traders Village, and another will follow on Friday, May 1, at the Alamodome. Both also start at 10 a.m.

3:45 p.m. — City Council approves $25 million emergency fund for residents

The San Antonio City Council has approved creating a $25 million  COVID-19 emergency housing assistance during the coronavirus pandemic.

The fund will help San Antonio residents pay rent, mortgage, utilities, internet, groceries, medication and gas. It would assist up to $3,500 in rent or mortgage payments and up to $1,500 for utilities based on annual income plus a maximum of $300 for groceries or gasoline based on family size.

City Council members voted 10-1 to approve its creation and place additional money into the fund. Read more about the emergency fund here.

3:30 p.m. — VIA announces "essential service" schedule

Officials with VIA Transit announced they will roll out an "essential service" schedule on Monday, April 27. The new schedule is designed to preserve service for people who must travel for work at an essential business or operation, obtain food and supplies or help care for others.

“VIA has seen about 45% fewer riders compared to this time last year. And about 150 VIA operators and other essential staff are on Emergency Family Medical Leave (EFMLA), which allows employees to take leave in order to care for loved ones at home,” a statement said. “The new service changes account for these and other factors.” 

The following changes for VIA’s fixed-route bus service will go into effect Monday and will continue until further notice.

  • Monday-Sunday, most VIA routes will be on “Sunday” Schedule unless an exception is listed.
  • Routes, extensions or branches that do not normally run on Sunday will not operate unless an exception is listed.
  • Weekday schedules in operation have been modified to accommodate early trips.
  • No changes to VIAtrans and VIAlink service.

Updates on VIA’s response to COVID-19 and related service alerts can be found at VIAinfo.net/covid-19. Riders can plan bus trips on the VIA goMobile app or on Google by entering a trip date starting April 27. For assistance planning trips, VIA customers are asked to call the care line at (210)362-2020.

Wednesday, April 22

6:30 p.m. — 1,126 confirmed cases; Metro Health warns against antibody tests 

Mayor Ron Nirenberg said the San Antonio and Bexar County orders to wear masks is "not a recommendation."

He explained it's important to wear masks in public, especially if people are within 6 feet of each other. Many grocery and retail stores will not let customers inside if they're not wearing masks. 

Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff warned that Texas Gov. Greg Abbott may plan to open retail stores in the state as early as April 27. If the happens, Wolff said, social distancing and mask precautions will be even more important.

Metro Health Director Dr. Dawn Emerick said she wants to warn residents of antibody tests being sold in the San Antonio area. She explained these are blood prick tests to determine if an individual contracted and recovered from COVID-19 without their prior knowledge.

There are 90 of these tests being sold on the market, but only four are approved by the Food and Drug Administration. Emerick said she doesn't know if some tests sold in San Antonio are approved or not. 

Either way, antibody tests are not reportable to Metro Health. Instead, Emerick recommends the viral nasal swab tests that are currently used at all pre-approved drive through sites. 

City officials congratulated the second person in the San Antonio area who has recovered from COVID-19 with the help of convalescent plasma.

To donate antibody plasma you must have first tested positive with the viral, nasal swap test before recovering. 

City officials also announced the following updates:

  • 1,126 confirmed cases in the San Antonio area
  • 39 deaths in the San Antonio area (no increase in the past several days)

6 p.m. — Watch today's daily briefing

4:55 p.m. — Veterans home in Floresville has 15 cases among residents and staff

A wing of the Frank M. Tejeda Veterans Home in Floresville is battling a series of COVID-19 infections.

At least 10 residents have tested positive, and two among them have died. Five staffers also contracted the virus, and more results are pending.

All of the veterans who tested positive were moved to a separate part of the home. Those who needed a higher level of care went to San Antonio’s Audie Murphy VA Hospital.

Officials haven’t yet determined the source of the virus. The Texas Health and Human Services Commission began investigating the Tejeda facility on April 11, the day after the first positive test result came back.

To read Wednesday's entire COVID-19 brief, click here.

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