SAN ANTONIO – Mayor Ron Nirenberg and City Council were briefed about the city’s response and preparedness regarding the novel coronavirus Thursday morning during a regular City Council meeting.
The city discussed how the local economy has been affected by the pandemic, which has resulted in nine deaths in Bexar County. The “Stay Home, Work Safe” orders are in effect until April 9 unless extended.
District 1 Councilman Robert Trevino, District 2 Councilwoman Jada Andrews-Sullivan and District 4 Councilwoman Dr. Adriana Rocha Garcia are remoted-in to the meeting. Rocha Garcia told KSAT that she was tested for the virus this week and the results came back negative.
Deputy City Manager Maria Villagomez said the city will suspend certain programs that would have cost $82 million. The city will hold the money if they need to amend the budget to keep it balanced, Walsh said.
Street maintenance programs that have yet to begin, economic development incentives, the implementation of the homeless strategic plan, and ambassador and after-school programs are among those that will be suspended. The city’s contribution to VIA will also be reduced by $3 million.
Street maintenance programs make up the majority of that estimate at $50 million. Projects that began in 2018-2020 will still be completed.
City Manager Erik Walsh said the city will not be spending “any money” on those programs, which make up about 18% of the budget, as of now. The programs will resume once the economy recovers.
The city will also undergo a hiring freeze, with the exception of filling “very critical positions” like 911 dispatchers, Walsh said.
He added that the city will not suspend the risk mitigation fund that helps families facing displacement.
Seventy of the cases are travel-related, 68 are community transmission, 60 are still under investigation and 33 are from close contact, according to the daily tally released Wednesday evening.
Also on Wednesday, the San Antonio Fire Department and San Antonio Metropolitan Health District announced an outbreak at the Southeast Nursing & Rehabilitation Center at 4302 Southcross.
At least one male resident has died as a result. Six staff members and eight residents have tested positive for COVID-19.
SAFD Chief Charles Hood told City Council Thursday that from now on, a nursing home patient who may have contracted the virus will first be screened by a doctor. They will then assess if the patient can be treated at the nursing home or if they need to be transported to a hospital.
COVID-19, the respiratory disease caused by the new virus, stands for coronavirus disease 2019. The disease first appeared in late 2019 in Wuhan, China, but spread around the world in early 2020, causing the World Health Organization to declare a pandemic in March.
MORE CORONAVIRUS COVERAGE FROM KSAT: