SAN ANTONIO – Over the past couple of weeks, Americans have started to see a light at the end of the tunnel that is the coronavirus pandemic as we inch closer to getting an FDA-approved vaccine.
San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg joined Leading SA on Sunday to discuss the timetable of when a vaccine could become available and what the local distribution plan looks like.
“I’m told that, you know, within the next four to six weeks, perhaps we could see some of those initial groups have the vaccine available. So, we’re anxiously awaiting for it,” Nirenberg said.
Obviously, not everyone will get the vaccine at once, as there are certain high-priority groups and limited doses available. Local health professionals predict the vaccine, once approved, won’t be available to the general public until next year.
“They are going through CDC protocol to ensure that front line workers, health care providers, the most vulnerable populations are vaccinated first, and then it goes into the general population order,” Nirenberg said.
Still, Nirenberg said there is a plan in place for when the vaccine does get approved and how it will be distributed when it arrives in San Antonio.
“Our hospitals are our providers to go over a distribution plan once that vaccine comes in so we are locked and loaded in terms of being able to distribute the vaccine,” Nirenberg said.
However, the issue right now is that the Alamo City is seeing a significant spike in coronavirus cases. On Friday, city leaders reported 936 new coronavirus cases, and on Saturday, there were 492 more cases.
With the uptick in coronavirus numbers, Nirenberg said it’s important for residents to continue to be mindful of the public health guidelines in place, especially with Thanksgiving just around the corner.
“Everybody’s got to be mindful of the health guidance to continue to do their part to save lives, especially in this period where we’re seeing the transmission rise,” Nirenberg said. “I would describe our situation here in San Antonio as pivotal and dangerous. We are at a point in this pandemic where we’re seeing a significant spike in cities around Texas. We know there is a surge happening all across the country. San Antonio has likewise seen an increase in cases, but we haven’t seen the exponential increase as we’ve seen in other places.”
A statewide shutdown is not in the cards for Texas if coronavirus cases and deaths continue to rise, as recently announced by Governor Greg Abbott. However, Nirenberg said he and Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff have the authority to close area bars if necessary.
“The state of Texas, the governor’s office has the order to close or open businesses. What (Gov. Abbott) said was that communities, counties, county judges can opt in to open bars if their hospitalization rate is less than 15%. If it goes over 15%, bars are ordered to shut down,” Nirenberg said. “What our public health professionals said, they got together and they issued a recommendation for us. If we go over 10% for more than two weeks of positivity rate in our community, then we should shut those bars down, even if we’re still under the 15% threshold of the state.”
Nirenberg said it’s likely the positivity rate will be above 10% this coming week due to the recent surge in cases; however, the city will have to wait and see.