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San Antonio Seems To Have Avoided A Labor Day Outbreak, Officials Say

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In addition to COVID-19 case numbers, Texas Public Radio is updating information on 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.

San Antonio

For the third consecutive day, San Antonio officials reported 100 or fewer new cases of COVID-19. On Monday, there were 63 new COVID-19 cases in the area, which brings the total to 57,208. The seven-day moving average is now 139 cases per day.

No new deaths were reported, and the death toll stands at 1,130.

There are 220 COVID-19 patients in local hospitals (-1), with 22 new admissions on Monday. There are 86 people in intensive care and 34 on ventilators, no change from Sunday. In total, 17% of staffed beds and 75% of ventilators are available.

Made with Flourish

Mayor Ron Nirenberg gave the city’s weekly update on its progress and warning indicators. As of two weeks ago, the city has been in a free “safe” zone. Nirenberg announced that, because the virus remains active in the community, officials will begin to refer to that zone as “low-risk.”

In this low-risk zone, health officials still recommend wearing masks, social distancing, using good hygiene and staying home if sick. Many of the indicators — testing and contact tracing capacity, 14-day decline in cases, doubling rate and positivity rate — are in a low-risk, green zone. The two remaining indicators — hospital stress and hospital capacity — are improving slowly, Nirenberg said, but remain at a moderate risk level.

The city’s positivity rate is now 5.9%, a decline from last week’s 6.4% and closer to the city’s goal of 5%.

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According to Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff, the area has avoided the potentially negative impact of Labor Day celebrations. It has been three weeks since the holiday. The city was waiting beyond the two-week incubation period to confirm a positive outcome in case test results were delayed.

Wolff said now, the area should focus on getting past the “school hump and flu season.”

In total, 97% of total cases in the area have recovered, and the remaining 3% are still ill.

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Around 50 local and state elected officials and community leaders on Saturday endorsed passage of Proposition B, the SA Ready To Work initiative, on the Nov. 3 ballot.

The initiative calls for the redirection of $154 million in sales tax revenue from aquifer protection to retrain local workers who lost their jobs because of the COVID-19 pandemic. As of August, 68,000 workers were collecting unemployment.

It does not involve a sales tax increase.

San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg warned the virus was not done taking a toll on the local economy.

“As permanent business closures rise," he said, "it's estimated that some one quarter of the jobs lost amid the pandemic might never come back."

Local leaders said many of those job losses hit one of the city’s biggest industries — leisure and hospitality. Nirenberg said those workers can learn higher skills for higher paying jobs offered now by employers.

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The head of the San Antonio Economic Development Foundation said there are plenty of job openings in the area despite the COVID-19 pandemic, but the local workforce needs the skills to fill those positions.

Jenna Saucedo-Herrera, the foundation's president and CEO, explained that “manufacturing is hiring, tech is hiring, professional services are hiring, healthcare is hiring. But sadly when you look at those that are unemployed in San Antonio, I think we are still sitting at about 68,000 as of August, the skill match is what is challenged."

Many of those 68,000 unemployed people worked in tourism and leisure related industries. Both the city and county offer programs meant to create a better-trained workers for higher paying jobs.

City leaders also encouraged local voters to approve the use of sales taxes on November 3rd to fund workforce development programs.

Bexar County Precinct 2 Commissioner Justin Rodriguez announced that the county will give away a quarter of a million masks to small businesses on Thursday, Oct. 8, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Freeman Coliseum.

Business owners can register at bexar.org.

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Texas

On Monday, the Texas Department of State Health Services reported over 739,000 since March.

There are more than 3,200 patients with COVID-19 in Texas hospitals, and more than 15,500 people have died in the state.

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National and International

Find the latest national and international updates on COVID-19 from NPR's live blog

Find more information at Johns Hopkins coronavirus resource center.