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San Antonio

May 5: San Antonio To Give Small Businesses $1.4M Worth Of PPE, Other Supplies

A mask at Freeman Coliseum's alternate care facility.
Kathleen Creedon | Texas Public Radio
A mask at Freeman Coliseum's alternate care facility.

Click here to read this blog is Spanish.

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 ...

Tuesday, May 5

6:31 p.m. — Four new deaths reported, bringing total to 52

Mayor Ron Nirenberg reported 1,677 total confirmed cases, up 25 from yesterday. Of those 25, two are from the Bexar County jail.

There are four new reported deaths, bringing the total to 52. Three of the four deaths occurred before April 26, but the city was just notified of them, according to Nirenberg. The fourth death was an inmate in the county jail. The deaths are the first reported since April 30.

There have been 802 recoveries, and 824 people still have the virus. The recovery rate is currently 48%.

Nirenberg reported a jump in the hospital numbers, with 61 people who have tested positive in hospitals. There are 31 people in hospitals who are under investigation. Thirty-five people are in intensive care, and 25 are on ventilators.

Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff reported that 189 businesses have gotten small business loans through LiftFund, totaling $3.8 million. He said the full $5 million of the fund will be distributed by the end of the week, according to Wolff.

At the jail, there are 294 positive cases. Of those, 217 were asymptomatic.

Kevin Voelkel of Toyota and Julissa Carielo of Tejas Premier Building Contractors co-chaired the economic transition team and gave an overview of the team’s reopening plan that was announced this afternoon.

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

3 p.m. — Economic transition team announces reopening plan

San Antonio will provide $1.4 million in personal protective equipment and other supplies to local small businesses. The effort is part of the City’s plan to reopen parts of the economy, and was announced alongside the Economic Transition Team’s report Tuesday in a special meeting of the city council and the Bexar County Commissioner’s Court.

About 6,500 no-touch thermometers, 56,000 face coverings, and 14,000 gallons of hand sanitizer will be given to for-profit businesses in an effort to protect the public, as the city tries to allow more of the local economy to open. This is primarily intended for companies that were asked to shut down as part of the pandemic response, and also have fewer than 25 employees. The supplies will be packaged in sets by the city. 

“We’re targeting between 5,600-6,000 businesses,” said Erik Walsh, city manager.

The transition team’s report includes additional health recommendations and resources for businesses. The state allowed restaurants, retail stores, malls and movie theaters to reopen last week with 25% occupancy.  

The transition team targeted recommendations for things like hotels, salons and manufacturing, providing additional checklists and guidelines. 

Under the report restaurants are encouraged to have hand sanitizer stations at each entrance and exit. Hotels should cease valet parking, opting instead for self-park. Salons should pre-screen and distance clients at least 6 feet. 

Kevin Voelkel of Toyota and Julissa Carielo of Tejas Premier Building Contractors led the team composed largely of business leaders. It was launched less than two weeks ago. The recommendations were vetted by the Health Transition Team, chaired by Dr. Barbara Taylor.

In addition to the health recommendations, the report outlines a marketing and PR plan for the city and guidelines for getting resources for small businesses.

1 p.m. — Economic report to be presented

An economic report will be presented to members of the San Antonio City Council and the Bexar County Commissioner's Court. 

10:45 a.m. — Update on surrounding counties

Comal County reports no new COVID-19 cases since last week.  The total remains at 58.  There have been six reported deaths related to the virus and 41 recoveries.

Wilson County has 34 confirmed cases, 15 of which have fully recovered.

Guadalupe County’s case count climbed to 86.  Thirty-eight people have recovered.

Atascosa County has 19 cases and Kendall County reports 16 confirmed cases.

The Texas Department of State Health Services confirmed 20 cases are confirmed in Medina County. Six cases are confirmed in Uvalde and Bandera Counties, respectively.

Monday, May 4 

10 p.m.  — Bexar County inmate dies of COVID-19 

An inmate of the Bexar County Jail has died of COVID-19 according to a statement from the sheriff’s office.

Clifford Childs, 66, had underlying health conditions and was admitted to University Hospital on April 17 after testing positive for the virus.

“At approximately 5:17 p.m., the family of Inmate Clifford Childs, 66, made the decision to remove him from life support,” the statement said. “Although the Bexar County Medical Examiner’s Office makes final determination for the cause of death, preliminarily, Childs’ death is believed to be related to COVID-19 complications.”

7 p.m. — Metro Health Director says San Antonio has flattened the curve

On Monday's daily COVID-19 briefing, Dr. Dawn Emerick of Metro Health said the latest data shows good news for the San Antonio area.

"People keep asking, 'Is it over, is it over?'" she said. "It’s never over, but what we can say is, when we’ve been talking about flattening the curve — we’ve done that."

Emerick explained the "curve" — that's been popularly referred to by epidemiologists — is in the shape of a classic bell curve and measures the onset of illness. The San Antonio area is seeing a decrease in confirmed COVID-19 cases and deaths, which means we're on the other side of the curve according to Emerick.

She cautioned, however, that residents must still be careful.

"We can’t go back to the way we were in December or November," she said. "It’s good news, but we’re not done."

Mayor Ron Nirenberg and Judge Nelson Wolff also encouraged residents to continue wearing masks in public when they're within 6 feet of other people.

When asked, Nirenberg said he believes the City of San Antonio has issued 63 violations and 34 citations to either individuals or businesses not following emergency declaration orders. The mayor said he's not interested in additional enforcement, though.

"I don't think we can arrest this problem away," he said, adding that saving lives should be encourgement enough to stay safe.

Officials also reported: 

  • 1,652 new confirmed COVID-19 cases

  • 34 of the 39 new cases are inmates at the Bexar County Jail

  • No new deaths, leaving the total at 48

| Find previous COVID-19 blogs here |

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

5 p.m. — National Guard to offer testing sites in Fredericksberg, Kerrville

The Texas National Guard's coronavirus testing unit will come to Fredericksburg on Tuesday. No doctor's note is required, but only symptomatic people can receive tests and an appointment is required.

There are four confirmed cases in Gillespie County, and more than 32,000 cases. Across the state there have been less than 500,000 tests performed. 

The mobile testing unit will also be in Kerrville this Friday. To make an appointment for either testing drive, call 830-992-9218 or visit txcovidtest.org to make an appointment. 

3 p.m. — Update on surrounding counties

Comal County reports no new COVID-19 cases since last week.  The total remains at 58.  There have been six reported deaths related to the virus and 41 recoveries.

Wilson County has 33 confirmed cases, 13 of which have fully recovered.

Guadalupe County’s case count climbed to 86.  Thirty-eight people have recovered.

Atascosa County has 19 cases and Kendall County reports 16 confirmed cases.

The Texas Department of State Health Services confirmed 20 cases are confirmed in Medina County. Six cases are confirmed in Uvalde and Bandera Counties, respectively.

9 a.m. — BiblioTech branches reopen to the public

Bexar County’s all-digital library, BiblioTech, will reopen its branches beginning today, and will remain open weekdays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. 

Under an executive order issued last week by Governor Greg Abbott, BiblioTech can only operate at 25% capacity.

Visitors are asked to wear a mask and follow staff guidelines for proper social distancing. BiblioTech is also requesting only one person per household in the branch whenever possible.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines

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