May 24: San Antonio's Unemployment Rate Tripled From March To April
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.
Sunday, May 24
6:25 p.m. — Three new deaths reported
Mayor Ron Nirenberg reported 2,442 total cases, up 24 from yesterday. Four of the cases are from the community and the remaining 20 have yet to be determined.
There are three new deaths, bringing the total to 69.
Nirenberg also reported a “slight uptick” in hospital numbers: There are 79 positive cases in local hospitals, 41 people in intensive care and 20 on ventilators.
Justin Rodriguez, Precinct 2 County Commissioner, said he has gotten good reception from small businesses who are taking advantage of the city’s assistance, specifically with PPE. Nirenberg added that most small businesses are complying and following guidelines in this second phase of reopening.
There will be no briefing tomorrow in observance of Memorial Day, but the city will update numbers on its website.
6:10 p.m. — Watch today's daily briefing
10:30 a.m. — City to spend half of $350 million in federal COVID-19 aid on job retraining
San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg and Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff say efforts continue to get people back to work after many lost their jobs to COVID-19.
Both leaders say they expect to launch plans by Dec. 31 to keep COVID funding from the federal government, but both say more time is needed to ramp up.
Mayor Nirenberg believes there will be a push in Congress to give communities more time.
Both city and county governments plan to spend half of the $350 million in federal COVID-19 aid on job retraining.
9:50 a.m. — Update on surrounding counties
Comal County confirmed one new case last week, bringing the total 82. 56 people have recovered from the virus and there have been six deaths reported.
Atascosa County confirmed 36 cases this week, with 26 recoveries and only one death related to the virus.
The Texas Department of State Health Services has confirmed 122 cases in Guadalupe County. There are 38 cases in Wilson County and 66 cases in Medina County.
There are 24 COVID-19 cases in Kendall County. Both Uvalde and Bandera Counties report six cases each.
Saturday, May 23
6:35 p.m. — More than half of nursing homes have been tested
Mayor Ron Nirenberg reported 2,418 total confirmed cases, up 26 from yesterday. Of the new cases, 14 are from the community, three are from the jail and one from congregate settings. There are 10 additional cases under investigation.
There have been no new deaths; the total stands at 66.
There are 70 positive cases in local hospitals. Of those cases, 38 people are in intensive care, and 19 are on ventilators. Nirenberg noted that there had been an uptick in hospitalizations in the past week but that the numbers have gone down slightly in the past two days.
County Judge Nelson Wolff said the numbers show that the San Antonio area can handle the reopening if people continue to social distance and wear masks.
The city has fully tested 38 of 65 nursing homes and plans to finish the universal testing next week. According to Nirenberg, the city tested 800 nursing home staff members and residents just today.
At a rally this afternoon, Bexar County Republican Chairwoman Cynthia Brehm claimed the COVID-19 pandemic "has been promulgated by the Democrats."
At the briefing, Nirenberg responded: "I think there’s many people who are desperately trying to make this pandemic response a political issue, but it’s not."
Nirenberg added, "Let me quote our governor: Wear a mask."
6:10 p.m. — Watch today's daily briefing
5:00 p.m. — San Antonio's unemployment rate at 13.7%
State figures released Friday show the local unemployment rate more than tripled from March to April, from 4.5% to 13.7%.
Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff said Friday that the only way to save the economy is for everyone to get back to work, earn a paycheck and support local businesses.
He feels many people will have to be retrained to work in different industries to earn those paychecks. He said the city and the county are helping to do that.
“We put in 50% of money into job training," he said. "We think that is one of the most important things.”
Mayor Ron Nirenberg agreed with Wolff. He urged locals to buy local to turn the economy around.
In March, city staff predicted San Antonio would see an employment rate reaching 14%.
For the San Antonio-New Braunfels metropolitan statistical area, the Texas Workforce Commission listed more than 93,000 jobs lost. Combined, the area around the two cities reached an unemployment rate of 13.2% Across the state, 1,298,900 jobs were lost.
TPR's Joey Palacios explored the latest unemployment rates in a special report here.
For more updates about how the overall business community has adjusted to the realities of the coronavirus crisis, follow TPR's special blog that is tracking the latest developments.
3:00 p.m. — Wolff not impressed with Abbott's response to his letter
Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff expressed disappointment in Gov. Greg Abbott’s reply to his letter seeking more COVID-19 funds for the state’s largest counties.
Wolff had a short response to the governor’s desire to see all Texas counties share evenly in the funds: “Not a very good answer, and not a very good reason."
Wolff says the 11 biggest counties have 69% of all cases but are receiving just 28% percent of the funding.
1:15 p.m. — City checking in with Cowboys Dance Hall
San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg said officials will keep an eye on Cowboys Dance Hall this weekend after patrons were spotted in long lines and without masks.
He says police paid the popular country dance venue a visit on Friday.
“We had SAPD and Code Enforcement DSD to go out there today to visit with the management of Cowboys to make sure they understood exactly what parts of the facility could remain open, what could operate, their occupancy limitations, how to make sure their patrons are following the rules.”
Nirenberg said the city will respond to complaints and violations and close establishments in violation if needed.
Cowboys Dance Hall was taking the temperature of patrons at the door and remains open.
11:30 a.m. — Free essential supplies available
Small businesses and nonprofits can register to receive free essential supplies during the Supply Pickup Day on May 27th at the Alamodome.
The supplies include a non-contact thermometer, two gallons of hand sanitizer, and face masks.
Eligible businesses are those inside city limits with 25 employees or less that were in operation before March 1, 2020, and were closed by executive orders.
You can register by calling 3-1-1 from 7 a.m.–7 p.m.
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.
10:00 a.m. — Texas governor suspends jail visits
In-person visits are suspended at Texas county & municipal jails. Texas Governor Greg Abbott issued the executive order on Friday.
The restriction does not apply to visits by an attorneys meeting with clients or visits by religious leaders.
Abbott said the executive order adds another layer of defense to contain COVID-19 and protect staff and inmates.
Prisons and detention centers are considered hot spots for the spread of the coronavirus.
Read more about the situation in the Bexar County jail here.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines
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