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May 9: San Antonio Denounces Hate Speech; Thunderbirds Roar Over City Next Week

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 ...

Saturday, May 9

6:31 p.m. — City reports that 46% of people who tested postitive are still ill

Tonight, the City of San Antonio reported 52 new confirmed cases, bringing the total to 1,887 cases. Of those, 22 are from the community, seven are from the Bexar County jail, 18 are from congregate settings and five are under investigation.

The five under investigation will be categorized by tomorrow, according to Mayor Ron Nirenberg.

In the jail, there have been 303 inmates and 55 staff members who have tested positive.

There have been no new deaths. 970 people have recovered, and 852 people are still ill.

In local hospitals, there are 62 positive cases and 16 under investigation. 35 people are in intensive care, and 21 of those are on ventilators.

Precinct 2 Commissioner Justin Rodriguez outlined the city’s plans to distribute federal aid the county and city received through the CARES Act. Rodriguez said the city is aiming to deploy the funds — which will primarily go to workforce training — as soon as possible.

Rodriguez said that only about 3% of San Antonians who have recovered have donated plasma, and he encouraged more people to do so.

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

6:00 p.m. — People under 40 make up almost half of COVID-19 cases

Bexar County health officials reported that of all COVID-19 cases, 45% are seen among people under the age of 40.

Mayor Ron Nirenberg says many of these young people had no underlying heath conditions.

"If that's not a deterrent enough for people not to ignore the guidelines of public health officials, I don't know what is," he said at a press conference on Friday.

Nirenberg added that he was encouraged that businesses were reopening. But he warned that residents must still take certain protective measures to protect themselves and their loved ones from the virus.

5:00 p.m. — New testing site in Garden Ridge

A one-day drive-thru COVID-19 testing site opens Monday in Comal County.

The site is located at the Garden Ridge Community Center at 9400 Municipal Parkway in Garden Ridge.

It is open Monday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Appointments are necessary and can be made at TXcovidTest.org. Participants will be screened for COVID-19 symptoms.

4:15 p.m. — Air Force Thunderbirds will honor workers on Wednesday with flyover

The Air Force Thunderbirds will salute Texas COVID-19 first responders and essential workers with a flyover in San Antonio on Wednesday.

Flyovers will start at 1:20 p.m. and last about 30 minutes.

Residents are urged to view the flyover from the safety of their home or workplace, and to maintain social distancing. Groups are discouraged from traveling to landmarks and hospitals to view the flyover.

The Thunderbirds and the U.S. Navy's Blue Angels are on a nationwide "America Strong" flyover tour of various U.S. cities.

3:30 p.m. — City council calls for end of hate speech

The San Antonio City Council approved a formal resolution calling for the end of hate speech that targets Asian Americans in the age of the coronavirus.

The resolution, introduced by San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg, said deliberate use of terms like “Chinese virus” or “kung fu virus” “encourages hate crimes and incidents against Asians and further spreads misinformation.”

The resolution also denounced anti-Semitic tropes and conspiracy theories against the Jewish community.

Mayor Ron Nirenberg said during crises the best and worst of humanity can be seen, adding that San Antonio has a diverse mosaic of people.

TPR's Joey Palacios wrote about the resolution here.

3:15 p.m. — San Antonio research helped develop new drug for COVID-19 patients

There is a glimmer of hope in the search for treatments for COVID-19. The Food and Drug Administration approved the antiviral remdesivir for emergency use for hospitalized patients with COVID-19.

An emergency use authorization from the FDA means that COVID patients in hospitals can use the medicine if their doctor thinks it will help — regardless if the hospital or patient are involved in the study.

San Antonio is one of the sites involved in the study that Dr. Anthony Fauci recently praised.

Dr. Thomas Patterson is a principal investigator on the study cited by Fauci. He is the head of the Division of Infectious Disease at the UT Health San Antonio. He is running the San Antonio portion of the study at University Hospital.

TPR's Bonnie Petrie learned more about Patterson and his research. Read her special report here.

2:30 p.m. — Free walkup testing sites

The City of San Antonio has offered free walkup COVID-19 testing for the last three days at Las Palmas Library and Woodlawn Lake Park. Today was the last day.

Credit Dominic Anthony Walsh | Texas Public Radio
Medical workers prepare patients for their tests.

People could show up without symptoms, a doctor's note or an appointment.

At Las Palmas Library, dozens of people took advantage of the service. They patiently waited in line. Medical workers and support staff handed out chairs so people could sit and wait for their turn.

Jennifer Herriott, assistant director of community health with San Antonio’s Metropolitan Health District, said Metro Health also runs several long term, no-cost testing sites, but an appointment is required to receive those tests. For people without access to the internet, that can make actually getting a test difficult.

"We are locating these pop ups in predominantly communities of color," she explained. "So we are on the West Side, South Side, North Side of San Antonio."

More free walk-up sites have not yet been announced.

Read Dominic Anthony Walsh's report here.

For more updates about when and where to get tested, follow TPR's special blog tracking the latest opportunities to find and offer help.

2:00 p.m. — Report: Pandemic may cost Texas billions of dollars

A new report estimates the pandemic could cost Texas agriculture between $6 billion and $8 billion.

Texas A&M University's Agricultural and Food Policy Center estimated some agricultural producers in the state could see losses of up to 40%.

Shutting down schools and restaurants to dine-in customers led to a dramatic shift in food purchasing. It also affected agricultural supply chains for products like livestock, produce and dairy products.

1:30 p.m. — SAHA offers more rent help for residents

Two new funding initiatives from San Antonio Housing Authority will assist more than 19,000 residents living in public housing and SAHA-owned and -managed mixed-income communities.

SAHA is contributing $350,000 to the City of San Antonio's COVID-19 Emergency Assistance Program to help SAHA residents with rent assistance.

The agency also announced a 25% rent forgiveness program for the month of June. Documentation of hardship is required.

SAHA said 23% of public housing residents and 25% of mixed-income communities were delinquent in rent for the month of April.

For more updates about housing assistance, follow TPR's special blog tracking the latest opportunities to find and offer help.

12:00 p.m. — New Braunfels offers water fun again

New Braunfels city officials reopened river parks and river access this weekend.

Access to the Comal River and its parks started on Friday. Access to the Guadalupe River and its parks began today.

River visitors and outfitters were expected to follow COVID-19 protocols. Park hours are 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily.

Landa Park facilities were mostly closed.

11:30 a.m. — Single mothers get some appreciation today

A local organization will provide Mother's Day food kits and flowers to 200 single mothers in San Antonio displaced by COVID-19.

These women have lost employment and access to transportation and childcare due to the pandemic.

The Health Collaborative will make the donations today at 3 p.m. at the Seton Home and Guadalupe Home.

The Seton Home offers counseling for teen moms and their children. The Guadalupe Home is a transitional living program for women who are without shelter and basic needs.

11:00 a.m. — TAMUSA honors new Army officers on Friday

Texas A&M-San Antonio Military Affairs will honor its largest class ever at an Army ROTC commissioning ceremony next week.

This year's commissioning class includes 34 commissionees.

The ceremony will be held virtually on Friday, May 15th, at 1 p.m.

10:00 a.m. — SBA's IG says agency fails minority, rural communities

The Small Business Administration watchdog says the agency failed to prioritize underserved and rural communities — as Congress had directed — when approving loans through the Paycheck Protection Program. The PPP was supposed to keep small businesses afloat and their staff on payrolls.

The agency's inspector general found that while the PPP mostly aligned with the final rules Congress had asked for, it failed to tell lenders to prioritize underserved or rural communities. The report says these minority, women-owned, and rural businesses may not have gotten loans.

It largely validates concerns expressed by Latino community advocates like the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. It presented a small survey showing 70 percent of Latino business owners who had applied did not receive funding in the first round.

The report also pointed out that guidance wasn’t given to lenders on loan deferments and what part of the loan was forgivable.

It made many recommendations including requiring the collection of demographic data of lendees, something the SBA usually does but declined to do for PPP.

9:00 a.m. — City and county see 51% recovery rate

The number of COVID-19 recoveries in Bexar County now stands above 50 percent, meaning that of the 1,835 people who have tested positive so far, more than half have now recovered.

San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg said that percentage of recoveries is a significant milestone.

“Fifty-one percent of our total confirmed cases are recovered 927 people total," Nirenberg explained. "We do have 852 cases that we are we are tracking who are still fighting COVID-19.”

The county has seen 56 deaths since the pandemic began, two of which were added Friday night.

Out of all 32,000 tests administered in Bexar County, about 93 percent have come back negative.

For more updates about when and where to get tested, to give blood or how to get job, food and housing assistance, follow TPR's special blog tracking the latest opportunities to find and offer help.

Friday, May 8

6:37 p.m. — Mayor reports 51% recovery rate and 1,835 total cases

Mayor Ron Nirenberg announced 1,835 total confirmed cases, up 30 from yesterday. Of the new cases, two are related to the Bexar County jail. Four of the cases are from congregate settings.

There have been two new deaths, bringing the total to 56.

Nirenberg reported the highest recovery percentage to date; 51% of cases have recovered (927 people). There are 852 people who still have the virus.

In local hospitals, there are 63 positive cases and 19 under investigation. There are 33 people in intensive care, and 21 people on ventilators.

In the jail, a total of 295 inmates and 51 staff members have tested positive.

County Judge Nelson Wolff said the jail has seen 49 recoveries, now more people than are currently in the infirmary. Wolff also said the jail has adequate equipment.

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

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines

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