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Timeline: Every major COVID-19 development in San Antonio since the start of the pandemic

From evacuees and business closures to schools and voting, recounting the coronavirus pandemic

Grand Princess evacuees arrive in San Antonio (top left); Jerry A. Mann is held by his grandmother at a COVID-19 testing site in San Antonio on May 14 (top right); empty shelves are seen at a Texas H-E-B (bottom left); masked patrons walk on the River Walk on May 14 (bottom right).
Grand Princess evacuees arrive in San Antonio (top left); Jerry A. Mann is held by his grandmother at a COVID-19 testing site in San Antonio on May 14 (top right); empty shelves are seen at a Texas H-E-B (bottom left); masked patrons walk on the River Walk on May 14 (bottom right). (KSAT; Eric Gay/Associated Press; KPRC)

SAN ANTONIO – At times, it seems nearly impossible to recount all the highlights, grim milestones, controversies, dramatic steps and downright chaos that has occurred since the coronavirus pandemic upended everyone’s lives in March.

The clearing of toilet paper from store shelves. The disputes over face coverings. The shuttering of schools and non-essential businesses. The frontline heroes. The overwhelming and tragic number of deaths.

They’re all ingredients of a year like no other, of a health crisis that has stolen more than 1,000 lives in Bexar County and more than 16,000 lives in Texas. And it’s all occurred during a presidential year and an international reckoning on race, nevertheless.

To try to wrap our brains around how far we’ve come — and the arc of the pandemic — in the first eight months of the COVID-19 crisis, we’ve taken a deep dive to list major milestones, news and events that have occurred since February.

From the arrival of evacuees in China, to the “Stay Home, Work Safe” order, to Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s newest plans to reopen the states, here’s how the pandemic has run its course in San Antonio, Bexar County and Texas:

Feb. 5: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced a plane carrying Americans from Wuhan, China, was headed to Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland.

Feb. 7: A plane holding as many as 250 evacuees from China’s Hubei province arrived at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland. The evacuees were among 1,000 people, which included American citizens, residents and their family members, who needed to return to the United States from China.

Feb. 13: Officials from the CDC and the City of San Antonio announced one evacuee from China tested positive for COVID-19. At the time, it was the first known case of the virus in Texas.

The CDC director, Dr. Robert Redfield, acknowledged “this virus is probably with us beyond this season, beyond this year, and I think eventually the virus will find a foothold and we will get community-based transmission.”

Feb. 15: Government officials announced that Americans on the Diamond Princess cruise ship would be sent to Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland for quarantine. The Department of Defense announced JBSA-Lackland’s quarantine zone would remain available to patients through mid-March.

Feb. 17: A chartered flight carrying passengers from the Diamond Princess cruise ship off the coast of Japan landed at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland just before 4 a.m. The U.S. arranged the evacuation due to the high risk of exposure from the virus.

JBSA-Lackland was selected as one of the locations to hold quarantined patients because of its lodging capacity and easy access to medical facilities.

Feb. 20: This day marked the end of the 14-day quarantine period for the first group of coronavirus evacuees at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland from China.

Feb. 29: The CDC reported the first COVID-19 death in the United States, a patient from Washington state. Hours after the confirmation, President Donald Trump said there was “no reason to panic.”

March 2: Mayor Ron Nirenberg and County Judge Nelson Wolff issued a local state of disaster and public health emergency for San Antonio and Bexar County. The declaration “authorizes the City to commandeer or use any private property, temporarily acquire, by lease or other means, sites required for temporary housing units or emergency shelters for evacuees, subject to compensation requirements.”

H-E-B began limiting products so customers could find the items needed amid the high demand.

North Star Mall closed for 24 hours after a woman who visited the mall tested positive for COVID-19. The woman, who was evacuated from Wuhan, China, in early February, met the criteria for release from JBSA-Lackland after testing negative twice, officials said. She had visited the mall two days before it temporarily closed.

March 3: More than 120 evacuees from the Diamond Princess who had been quarantined at JBSA-Lackland were deemed free to go home. They were bused to the San Antonio International Airport and dropped off at the main passenger loading zone.

Passengers who developed symptoms and tested positive were not immediately released. The City of San Antonio sought a temporary restraining order in federal court to prevent their release until a different protocol was established, but it was denied.

Despite the swelling concerns about COVID-19, the Primary Election went on as scheduled.

Also, the San Antonio Metropolitan Health District opened a hotline for Bexar County residents with questions about the novel coronavirus.

March 5: Gov. Greg Abbott announced the state had the ability to test for the virus at 10 public health labs throughout Texas that were part of the Centers for Disease Control’s “Laboratory Response Network.” The labs were in Lubbock, Forth Worth, Dallas, Tyler, El Paso, Austin, Houston, San Antonio, Corpus Christi and Harlingen.

The San Antonio Food Bank launched a coronavirus preparedness and prevention campaign.

Also, hospitals in San Antonio began to restrict access to visitors.

March 6: SXSW 2020 in Austin was canceled.

March 9: The City of San Antonio announced that the Metro Health Department could begin testing for COVID-19.

March 10: Passengers from the Grand Princess cruise ship, that was docked off the Port of Oakland, began arriving at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland to quarantine. In total, 380 passengers from the Grand Princess were expected to quarantine at the base.

Grand Princess cruise ship evacuees arrive at JBSA-Lackland on March 10, 2020.
Grand Princess cruise ship evacuees arrive at JBSA-Lackland on March 10, 2020. (KSAT)

Also, groups began to postpone or cancel conventions in San Antonio over coronavirus concerns.

March 11: The San Antonio Spurs' 2019-2020 season was cut short when the NBA decided to suspend the season until further notice.

The World Health Organization (WHO) declared that the global coronavirus crisis was officially a pandemic.

The Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo was canceled halfway through its scheduled run.

Universities and colleges across San Antonio announced an extension to spring break.

CPS Energy announced it would suspend energy disconnections for customers.

March 12: San Antonio school districts began announcing extended closures due to growing COVID-19 concerns. The majority of San Antonio students did not return to school following spring break, which lasted March 9-13.

Several collegiate and professional sporting leagues also began canceling play in the wake of the outbreak.

March 13: Bexar County Judge Wolff and Mayor Nirenberg declared public health emergencies. The emergency prohibited large gatherings of 500 people or more.

Subsequently, the 2020 Tejano Music Awards Fan Fair and St. Patrick’s Day Festival and River Parade were canceled.

San Antonio also confirmed its first travel-related coronavirus case. The case was not related to any of the evacuees at JBSA-Lackland who were infected with the virus.

Fiesta San Antonio announced the city’s biggest annual event that was scheduled for April would be postponed until November, though it was eventually canceled entirely.

Abbott declared a statewide emergency and announced that San Antonio would be the first city in the state to have a “drive-thru” testing facility for COVID-19. Trump declared the coronavirus pandemic a national emergency.

Churches also began to announce changes to services.

March 14: A Princess cruise ship passenger at JBSA-Lackland became the first from that group of evacuees to test positive for COVID-19.

Six Flags Fiesta Texas, Schlitterbahn and the San Antonio Zoo announced their closure on March 14. They were among several tourist destinations that closed during this week.

March 16: Mayor Ron Nirenberg updated an emergency declaration that prohibited public gatherings of more than 50 people in the city limits. The declaration also urged the public to avoid social gatherings of more than 10 people.

Abbott announced that the State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness, or STAAR, testing requirements would be waived for the academic school year.

Some of the malls in San Antonio and many of the retailers began to close or limit hours.

The first COVID-19 death in Texas was reported in Matagorda County.

March 17: Abbott announced he activated the Texas National Guard to help the state’s response to the new coronavirus in Texas.

March 18: Nirenberg issued a new emergency declaration, ordering bars and restaurant dining rooms to close.

Bexar County officials announced many changes in protocols at the jail to limit the potential for a community spread.

Texans were allowed to order alcohol to be delivered with food.

March 19: Abbott declared a public health emergency, closing restaurant dining rooms and gyms, and banning social gatherings of 10 or more people.

March 20: The San Antonio Zoo announced it was forced to furlough a majority of staff members.

March 21: A woman in her 80s was the first fatal COVID-19 case in the city and Bexar County.

VIA launched a system-wide fare relief period for all VIA fixed-route bus service, VIAtrans trips and VIA Link on-demand services.

March 22: On the issue of face coverings, Abbott said, “Local officials have the authority to implement more strict standards than I as governor have implemented in the state of Texas,” and allowed for fines or jail time or both for those in violation.

March 23: Mayor Nirenberg and Bexar County Judge Wolff directed non-essential businesses to close and directed residents to remain in their homes in the “Stay Home, Work Safe” emergency orders. The order directed residents to shelter at home with the exception of crucial errands and job duties.

March 24: A Texas prisoner tested positive for COVID-19 for the first time.

March 25: Trump issued a major disaster declaration for Texas, opening up new federal funding resources to save lives, protect property, public health and safety, and to lessen or avert the threat of COVID-19, a press release said.

The last of the evacuees from the Grand Princess cruise ship were released from their two-week, federally mandated quarantine at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland.

The city revealed a new self-screening tool for COVID-19 located on Metro Health’s website.

March 26: Comal County announced its first COVID-19-related death.

March 27: Trump signed an unprecedented $2.2 trillion economic rescue package into law.

March 31: An SAPD officer was the first from the department to contract the virus.

April 1: The San Antonio Fire Department and San Antonio Metropolitan Health District announced a COVID-19 outbreak at the Southeast Nursing & Rehabilitation Center at 4302 Southcross.

The Tejano Conjunto Festival was canceled.

April 3: Health officials said San Antonians could now get tested for COVID-19 without a physician’s note.

Nirenberg issued an addendum to his order that closed park amenities including playgrounds, basketball courts, tennis courts, skate plazas and splash pads at all community recreational areas. City golf courses and public basketball courts were forced to close.

April 8: The mayor’s office issued an advisory recommending that everyone over the age of 5 wear a face covering.

Nirenberg announced that San Antonio arts agencies would suffer about a $1 million loss in funding due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The City of San Antonio announced that it would furlough about 270 employees who worked at the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center, the Alamodome and other departments that rely on revenues generated by the Hotel Occupancy Tax.

The first Texas prisoner died after testing positive for the new coronavirus.

April 9: The San Antonio Food Bank hosted a mega distribution at Trader’s Village that served thousands of families. Images of the distribution were seen across the nation, reminding people of the economic crisis further fueled by the virus.

April 10: A man incarcerated in the Bexar County Jail on a family violence charge became the first inmate to test positive for COVID-19, according to the sheriff’s office.

April 12: This date marked the first COVID-19 death of a resident of the state-run Frank M. Tejeda Veterans Home in Floresville.

April 13: An SAFD firefighter tested positive for COVID-19 for the first time.

The state announced a $50 million loan program for small businesses in Texas.

April 16: The county and city emergency orders were updated to require all people over the age of 10 years old to wear cloth face coverings in public areas where social distancing was not possible. The order went into effect on April 20.

April 17: Abbott announced public and private schools and higher education campuses would be closed to in-person learning for the remainder of the academic year.

April 20: Texas State Parks reopened for day-use only.

People over the age of 10 years old in Bexar County must wear cloth face coverings in public areas where social distancing is not possible, or else they would face a fine.

April 23: City Council approved a $25 million COVID-19 Emergency Housing Assistance Program.

April 24: Retailers that were not deemed essential were allowed to reopen if their products could be sold via drive-thru, delivery or curbside and if state guidelines could be followed.

April 27: Abbott issued an executive order that stated: “Individuals are encouraged to wear appropriate face coverings, but no jurisdiction can impose a civil or criminal penalty for failure to wear a face covering.”

April 29: The Celebrity Fan Fest 2020 was canceled.

April 30: City and county orders stated that “all people 10 years or older must wear a cloth face covering over their nose and mouth when in public places” but there were no fines attached, to fall in line with Abbott’s orders.

BCSO deputy Timothy De La Fuente, 53 became the first deputy in the sheriff’s office to die of COVID-19 complications.

May 1: All retail stores, restaurants, movie theaters and malls in Texas were allowed to open as long as they maintained only 25% occupancy and followed distancing guidelines. Dentists and other licensed health care professionals were allowed to resume services as well.

Libraries are museums were allowed to reopen, and churches could expand capacity.

May 5: Bexar County’s coronavirus death toll surpassed 50.

May 8: Cosmetology businesses, nail salons and barber shops were allowed to reopen under social distancing guidelines and limited capacity.

Texas passed a grim milestone with 1,004 coronavirus deaths.

May 11: Metro Health officials confirmed a COVID-19 outbreak at the Rio at Mission Trails nursing home, located in the 6200 block of South New Braunfels Avenue.

COVID-19 cases in the Texas Department of Corrections surpassed 2,000.

May 12: A letter from the Texas Attorney General’s office was sent to Bexar County and San Antonio officials, accusing them of exceeding its lawful authority through its local executive orders. The attorney general’s office took issue with multiple parts of San Antonio’s local orders including directives on church services, essential businesses and masks.

May 13: The Air Force Thunderbirds took flight over the Alamo City, captivating thousands in a showcase to thank first-line responders to the pandemic.

May 14: COVID-19 cases in San Antonio surpassed 2,000.

May 18: Gyms, exercise facilities and personal care services were allowed to reopen under new standards. People using the gyms should wear gloves, Gov. Abbott said.

Child care centers and youth clubs were allowed to reopen.

Overnight camping at Texas state parks resumed for those with pre-existing reservations.

The Selena XXV anniversary concert at Alamodome was officially canceled.

May 19: Daily masses at churches in the Archdiocese of San Antonio resumed, and weekend masses resumed days later.

May 21: Abbott issued a new executive order that terminated air travel restrictions related to the pandemic.

May 22: Bars, bowling alleys, bingo halls, skating rinks and rodeos were allowed to reopen. Bars were allowed to reopen at 25% capacity and restaurants could increase capacity to 50%.

Zoos, aquariums and natural caverns could also reopen.

May 27: Texas state parks open to all visitors, even those without pre-existing reservations.

The U.S. death toll surpassed 100,000 from COVID-19.

May 28: Morgan’s Wonderland announced it would remain closed for the remainder of the year.

May 29: The San Antonio Zoo reopened its doors, but for annual pass holders and monthly members only. It opened to the general public on June 1.

DPS offices in the South and Central Texas regions reopened with limited services.

May 31: Camps and youth sports were allowed to reopen.

Professional basketball, baseball, car racing, football, golf, softball and tennis leagues were given the opportunity to hold professional sporting events.

June 1: Nirenberg reported Bexar County’s COVID-19 infections were trending downward.

June 2: In his State of the City speech, Nirenberg advocated for fixing the city’s various inequities as it recovers from the pandemic.

June 3: Bars, similar establishments, amusement parks and carnivals in counties with less than 1,000 confirmed positive case could increase their capacity to 50%.

Market Square reopened to the public with modified hours.

June 4: An eighth declaration of the city’s emergency order was issued. Council members passed a nearly $191 million “Resiliency and Recovery Plan” that would provide job training, rent assistance, and small business grants, among other programs, for residents.

June 6: SeaWorld San Antonio’s Aquatica reopened.

June 9: Texas surpassed 2,000 coronavirus hospitalizations.

June 11: As San Antonio began to reopen, a few of the city’s progress indicators started becoming a cause for concern. Emerick said, “we are entering a second wave" as other Texas cities saw an uptick in COVID-19 numbers.

June 12: In a letter addressed to Abbott, Wolff said Bexar County had a “large uptick in positive (COVID-19) cases in the last week” and was at an all-time high number of coronavirus-related hospitalizations. Wolff urged the governor to allow local jurisdictions to make face coverings mandatory.

The same day, Abbott said there’s “no real need to ratchet back the opening of businesses in the state.”

Restaurants were allowed to expand their occupancy levels to 75%.

June 13: Abbott responded to Wolff’s request on face masks and said it shouldn’t be a government mandate, rather, it’s about “individual responsibility."

Schlitterbahn reopened its New Braunfels park.

June 15: While not ordered to close, some San Antonio bars began voluntarily shutting their doors due to the spike in virus cases.

June 16: During a news conference, Abbott said Texas is still faring well in the fight against the virus and “there’s no reason to be alarmed.”

Nirenberg joined the mayors of large Texas cities in writing a letter to Abbott, urging him to grant them the authority to set rules on face coverings.

The Southeast Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, which was at the center of a deadly outbreak, was sued by the family of a COVID-19 victim.

June 17: Wolff and Nirenberg announced a new executive order due to the surge in COVID-19 cases. The order mandated that “all commercial entities providing goods and services” must implement a health and safety policy within five days. The policy “must require, at a minimum, that all employees or visitors ... wear face coverings when in an area or performing an activity which will necessarily involve close contact,” according to the new order.

June 18: Bexar County COVID-19 cases surpassed 5,000.

This day also marked the seventh consecutive day of a record number of coronavirus hospitalizations in Texas.

The first COVID-19 related death was reported in Guadalupe County.

Abbott said Texas students would return to school in-person in the fall. In response, the Texas American Federation of Teachers and The Texas State Teachers Association cautioned against Education Commissioner Mike Morath’s return-to-campus plan, saying the safety of students and staff should take priority.

June 19: The South Texas Veterans Health Care System reported the highest number of COVID-19 patients in the VA Health Care System.

Amusement parks and carnivals in counties with more than 1,000 confirmed positive cases of COVID-19 could open at 50% capacity. SeaWorld San Antonio reopened its park. Six Flags Fiesta Texas reopened its doors to members and season pass holders, but expanded availability to the general public days later.

June 20: A report from CNBC named the San Antonio metropolitan area as one of the top five U.S. hotspots for COVID-19 cases.

June 22: Though Abbott said COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations were spreading at an “unacceptable rate,” he encouraged Texans to wear face coverings, but stopped short of mandating them or removing his ban on cities to require it for the general public.

June 23: San Antonio’s COVID-19 death toll reached 100. The city’s COVID-19 hotline received it’s 50,000th call that day, too. Dr. Dawn Emerick, director of Metro Health, acknowledged a backlog in test results due to the surge.

Nirenberg updated the city emergency orders to limit outdoor gatherings of 100 people or more.

Abbott also asked Texans to stay home as much as possible as Texas surpassed 5,000 new coronavirus cases in a single day for the first time. He also gave Texas mayors and county judges the ability to impose restrictions on large outdoor gatherings.

The Texas Education Agency released guidelines on remote learning and said it would provide personal protective equipment. The guidelines described two instruction methods: synchronous and asynchronous.

A Bexar Facts-KSAT-San Antonio Report Poll showed fewer residents were concerned about the spread of the virus compared to the beginning of the pandemic.

Methodist Healthcare, Baptist Health System and University Health System announced they would implement a no visitor policy at hospitals.

June 24: Abbott acknowledged the state faced a “massive outbreak” in the coronavirus pandemic, and hinted at bigger restrictions.

A customer at a Lowe’s store slapped a paper out of Wolff’s hand when the customer refused to wear a mask.

June 25: The woman charged with overseeing the city’s health strategy, Metro Health Director Dr. Dawn Emerick resigned from her post just five months into the job. She resigned among a surge of COVID-19 cases in the city.

Abbott issued an executive order to suspend all elective surgeries in Bexar County and three other counties to ensure hospital bed availability for COVID-19 patients. He also put a pause on additional plans to reopen Texas.

Wolff updated the county emergency orders to limit outdoor gatherings of 100 people or more.

June 26: Bars and establishments whose receipts consist of 51% or more of alcohol sales were ordered to close, but they were allowed to remain open for delivery and takeout. Hours after the announcement, Abbott told a TV station that he regretted allowing bars to reopen.

Outdoor gatherings of up to 100 people or more had to be approved by local governments.

Tubing and rafting outfitters were also forced to close, just ahead of the Fourth of July.

COVID-19 hospitalizations in Texas surpassed 5,000 for the first time.

City Manager Erik Walsh announced city pools would not reopen as planned.

June 27: San Antonio officials issued a “stay home” alert as the city recorded its highest number of cases in a single day up to that point in the pandemic. An emergency alert was sent out just minutes after the city reported 795 new COVID-19 cases.

This year’s Pride Bigger Than Texas festival was held online after the in-person event was canceled.

June 28: San Antonio surpassed 10,000 COVID-19 cases.

The worldwide COVID-19 death toll eclipsed 500,000.

June 29: Restaurants were forced to scale back capacity from 75% to 50%.

June 30: Texas Education Commissioner Mike Morath told the state Board of Education that the annual State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness, or STAAR exam, will return in the next school year.

July 1: Nirenberg issued an addendum to the city’s emergency health declaration, requiring businesses to post a list of COVID-19 symptoms near the entrance.

Officials announced city and county parks would have to close ahead of the July 4th weekend.

COVID-19 hospitalizations surged past the 1,000 mark for the first time.

The 2020 Austin City Limits music festival was officially canceled.

July 2: Abbott issued a statewide order that required Texans to wear face coverings in public spaces starting July 3 due to a spike in COVID-19 cases.

He also gave mayors and county judges the authority to impose bans on outdoor gatherings of more than 10 people, with exceptions. Local leaders across the state, including in San Antonio and Bexar County, had implored Abbott for weeks to give them more authority to battle the spread of the virus.

July 3: Abbott’s face mask mandate went into effect. San Antonio and Bexar County officials deployed an emergency alert to cell phones of residents to remind locals of the mandate.

The City of San Antonio has issued an alert to inform residents that the governor's mask mandate is now in effect.
The City of San Antonio has issued an alert to inform residents that the governor's mask mandate is now in effect. (KSAT)

July 4: Gov. Abbott announced the distribution of Remdesivir to 12 San Antonio-area hospitals.

July 5: San Antonio reported its youngest COVID-19-related death so far, a 17-year-old boy.

July 6: Bexar County surpassed 15,000 COVID-19 cases.

July 7: The Texas Education Agency released guidelines that stated masks would be mandatory for teachers and students for the school year.

Texas surpassed 10,000 new virus cases in a single day for the first time.

July 10: Despite the COVID-19 surge in Texas, Abbott announced he had no plans to close down the economy again.

Fiesta San Antonio announced the cancellation of the 2020 event entirely after being pushed back from April. It is the first time the event was canceled since World War II.

July 13: San Antonio officials reported refrigerated trucks were on standby as hospitals and morgues ran out of space for bodies.

San Antonio’s total COVID-19 case count passed 20,000.

July 14: San Antonio’s death toll passed 200.

The Alamo Colleges released plans that said most students would learn remotely except for those in career, technical and some arts and sciences courses that require face-to-face learning.

Kyle Coleman, the emergency management coordinator for Bexar County, died due to COVID-19, Wolff said.

July 15: The Metropolitan Health District created a task force of educators, students and other community members to come up with guidelines for reopening campuses safely. The Texas Education Agency (TEA) also said local health officials could keep campuses closed for in-person instruction without losing funding.

The Joint Base San Antonio Air Show that was scheduled for November was canceled.

The Comal County Fair and Rodeo was canceled for 2020.

July 16: Officials from VIA Metropolitan Transit and Nirenberg announced the plan for a fought-over 1/8 cent sales tax, to be voted on in the November election. Voters would be asked to approve first using the sales tax for a workforce development/economic opportunity program to help residents impacted by the pandemic.

July 17: A directive issued by the San Antonio Metropolitan Health District stated school districts in San Antonio could not reopen schools for on-campus face-to-face instruction until after Sept. 7. School districts were ordered to develop a written plan with safety and health protocols to resume on-campus instruction no later than Aug. 21.

The TEA issued updated guidance that allowed schools more time at the beginning of the school year for online-only instruction.

Attorney General Ken Paxton said in a letter to schools that private religious schools could choose when to reopen for in-person instruction.

July 19: Wolff told KSAT he would not shut down the economy despite the surge in virus cases.

San Antonio passed 30,000 COVID-19 cases.

July 20: Emails obtained by KSAT revealed a feud between San Antonio Metro Health Director Dawn Emerick and Assistant City Manager Dr. Colleen Bridger.

Texas Comptroller Glenn Hegar said the general revenue available for the state’s two-year budget could be $11.5 billion less than originally estimated due to the pandemic.

July 21: The city announced that more than 200 babies under 1 year old have tested positive for COVID-19.

July 22: The city released a new model online showing hospitalization projections for the next two weeks.

Abbott said local governments do not need more authority to prevent the spread of COVID-19 during an interview on KSAT.

July 23: Wolff said officials have “started to run into trouble at the jail” and run out of room due to the state picking up fewer people to transfer into the prison system.

The Wurstfest Association of New Braunfels announced the 2020 event was canceled.

July 24: San Antonio’s death toll passed 300.

July 26: A COVID-19 outbreak at the Children’s Shelter in San Antonio was reported.

July 27: Abbott added an extra six days of early voting for the November election to allow for more time and better social distancing at the polls. Early voting will last Oct. 13-Oct. 30.

The city reported zero deaths for the first time since June 29.

July 28: Paxton said local health officials do not have the authority to close schools, despite TEA guidance. Andy Segovia, attorney for the City of San Antonio, said Paxton’s guidance is not binding on the city or county.

July 29: Nirenberg and Wolff send a letter to Abbott to clear up the mixed messages coming from the TEA and Paxton.

July 30: San Antonio surpassed total 40,000 virus cases.

Nirenberg announced a seven-day average of new COVID-19 cases will be reported daily.

July 31: Abbott and other top Texas Republicans sided with Paxton and the TEA, saying local public health officials do not have the power to preemptively close school campuses amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Abbott did not rescind San Antonio’s health directive issued by the health authority, but Metro Health decided it will issue an amended health directive.

County officials sent a letter to Abbott, asking him to reverse an executive order that limits judges' abilities to release inmates on personal bonds.

Abbott wrote in a letter that he would skip the Republican National Convention to focus on the pandemic in Texas.

Aug. 3: In an interview with KSAT, Abbott explained stated local health authorities could not preemptively keep schools closed due to the virus.

Aug. 5: The City of San Antonio released a new school safety indicator on its COVID-19 dashboard.

H-E-B removed its purchase limit on toilet paper, a sign that panic buying began to subside.

Aug. 6: State health officials announced visitors would be allowed in nursing homes with no active cases on a limited basis.

San Antonio’s death toll passed 400.

Aug. 7: Metro Health issued an amended directive for public and private school officials who were gauging the safety of reopening. Under the amended order, Bexar County school districts were encouraged to “tie their pandemic operational level to public health department metrics for community infection."

Aug. 10: Metro Health said it will begin releasing the number of deaths under investigation along with the number of COVID-19 deaths confirmed by the local health agency.

Aug. 11: In a City Council meeting, Assistant City Manager Maria Villagomez said the city should expect to spend $492 million over three years in COVID-19-related expenses for response and recovery costs.

Texas surpassed 500,000 confirmed coronavirus cases.

San Antonio’s death toll passed 500.

Aug. 12: Big 12 officials announced the college football season could continue as scheduled, paving the way for Texas, Texas Tech, Baylor and Texas Christian universities.

Aug. 13: Bexar County bars began to reopen as restaurants under a new classification from the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission.

Aug. 17: Texas surpassed 10,000 virus deaths. San Antonio’s death toll passed 600.

The Bexar County COVID-19 risk level improved to “moderate.”

Officials with the 52nd annual San Antonio Auto & Truck Show announced the 2020 event will be canceled.

Aug. 18: Fire Captain Bryant Anderson with the Converse Fire Department died due to COVID-19.

Amid a debate over mail-in voting, four sorting machines were removed from United States Postal Service distribution facilities in San Antonio.

Aug. 21: The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported the Texas unemployment rate dropped to 8% in June.

Aug. 22: San Antonio’s death toll passed 700.

Aug. 24: San Antonio’s COVID-19 positivity rate dipped below 10%.

San Antonio’s school risk level was downgraded to “moderate” as kids headed back to class.

Aug. 25: The number of Texans hospitalized due to COVID-19 dropped below 5,000 for the first time since June.

Aug. 26: The Poteet Strawberry Fest was canceled entirely for 2020, rather than just postponed.

Aug. 30: San Antonio’s death toll passed 800.

Aug. 31: A virus outbreak was reported at the Applewhite Recovery Center in San Antonio.

Abbott announced Texans receiving emergency benefits from SNAP could still get their benefits throughout September.

Sept. 2: The San Antonio International Airport announced it became the first airport in the world to deploy a Xenex LightStrike robot that disinfects surfaces from SARS-CoV-2.

Sept. 3: The Alamo shrine reopened for the first time since the beginning of the pandemic.

Sept. 4: Just ahead of Labor Day, an emergency alert was sent to all cell phones in Bexar County by the San Antonio-Bexar County Office of Emergency Management, urging all residents to protect themselves and others from the virus.

City leaders said Metro Health would begin to differentiate between current cases of COVID-19 and recent virus-related deaths, from cases and deaths older than 14 days.

Sept. 6: San Antonio’s death toll passed 900.

Sept. 9: Nirenberg told KSAT, “We are back in control of the pandemic here in San Antonio.”

Sept. 13: San Antonio’s death toll passed 1,000.

Sept. 14: San Antonio surpassed 50,000 virus cases.

Sept. 17: City Council passed a $2.9 billion budget. Despite anticipating lower revenues because of the COVID-19 pandemic, city staff said the budget was balanced and did not require any city layoffs or tax increases.

The Rotary Ice Rink announced it would not bring back the ice rink at Travis Park.

Sept. 18: Nirenberg announced there were less than 100 virus patients in the ICU for the first time in three months.

Sept. 21: Restaurants, gyms, retail stores, museums and offices were allowed to increase their capacity to 75%, up from 50%.

City basketball courts, skate parks, playgrounds, sports fields and fitness stations reopened. The Alamodome reopened with a reduced capacity of 17% and the Convention Center reopened with a reduced average capacity of 25%.

Sept. 23: Texas surpassed 15,000 virus deaths.

Sept. 24: Long-term care facilities, even those with active COVID-19 cases could begin allowing visitors.

Sept. 27: San Antonio’s death toll passed 1,100.

Sept. 28: The worldwide virus death toll reached 1 million.

Sept. 29: A Bexar Facts-KSAT-San Antonio Report Poll revealed three out of four Bexar County voters agreed that the closure of local businesses due to COVID-19 is a serious problem. The poll also revealed that public support for Abbott fell significantly among Bexar County voters since the beginning of the pandemic.

When it came to schooling, the poll found that roughly three out of four Bexar County parents said distance learning improved since the first attempt last spring.

As far as a vaccine, two-thirds of those polled said they would get a COVID-19 vaccine when it becomes available, but only half would get it if one is available before the year ends.

Cadillac Bar owner Jesus Medina told KSAT he planned to close the downtown business due to financial strain caused by the pandemic.

Oct. 1: The Bexar County Elections Department said it installed a tracker online to check on a voter’s status of mail-in ballots or mail-in voting applications.

Texas surpassed 750,000 COVID-19 cases.

Oct. 2: Trump revealed he and First Lady Melania Trump tested positive for COVID-19.

Premier Boxing Champions and Showtime Sports announced the Alamodome on Oct. 31 will host the first boxing event with fans in the U.S. since the start of the pandemic.

Oct. 4: CNN reported Texas was one of only three U.S. states reporting declines in virus cases.

Cornerstone Church announced Pastor John Hagee tested positive for COVID-19.

Oct. 5: KSAT released a report about footage showing solid waste employees without masks, violating the city’s directives.

Oct. 6: Metro Health dropped the school risk level to “low” as San Antonio’s coronavirus positivity rate dipped below 5%.

The San Antonio River Walk Association and City of San Antonio announced they have canceled the 2020 Ford Holiday River Parade.

Bexar County Commissioners voted to send $2 million in Coronavirus Relief Funds to help a nonprofit expand its COVID-19 testing program to additional schools.

Oct. 7: Abbott announced he would allow bars to open at 50% capacity on Oct. 14 if county judges opted in, provided their county’s COVID-19 hospitalizations are less than 15% of hospital capacity. Wolff said he decided to not reopen bars on Oct. 14, but said he will consult with local health officials about the possibility to reopen at a later date.

Oct. 8: Metro Health released guidelines for residents for Halloween, warning against traditional trick-or-treating.

Oct. 11: San Antonio’s death toll passed 1,200.

Oct. 12: Texas surpassed 17,000 COVID-19 deaths, according to the DSHS.

Amusement parks, movie theaters, zoos, aquariums and bowling alleys were allowed to expand to 75% capacity in counties with low COVID-19 hospitalizations.

The school risk level moved to “moderate" after being at “low" for a week due to a jump in the COVID-19 positivity rate.

Oct. 14: Bexar County surpassed 60,000 COVID-19 cases.

Wolff announced he would allow bars to reopen following the recommendation of a city and county COVID-19 task force. The openings would need to be approved by the TABC, he said.

Oct. 15: The San Antonio Stock Show & Rodeo announced that it will take place from Feb. 11-28 despite the pandemic.

Oct. 19: The San Antonio Public Library announced expanded services for phase 3 of its reopening plan, including the expansion of computer usage and contact-free pickups.

Oct. 20: The All-American Bowl announced it will not return in 2021 due to the pandemic.

Bexar County Commissioners approved a $4 million grant program aimed specifically at the area’s hard-hit bar and restaurant industry.

Oct. 21: An executive order from Wolff that declared that bars could officially reopen was approved by the TABC.

Oct. 22: During a presidential debate, Trump said the virus was “gone” in Texas. While the spread of COVID-19 has improved compared to the summer surge, COVID-19 continues to claim the lives of Texans on a daily basis.

Oct. 23: KSAT reported that UTSA researchers successfully monitored the spread of COVID-19 in wastewater. Samples collected between June and August showed that COVID-19 levels found in wastewater matched the trend of COVID-19 infections that Metro Health reported.

Oct. 26: Dr. Bob Leverence, the UT Health chief medical officer, sent an email to staff, saying that “San Antonio is now receiving COVID transfers from El Paso" and said a sharp increase of COVID-19 infections in El Paso may be the sign of another incoming surge.


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