Coronavirus/utilities update Feb. 19: 696 COVID-19 patients hospitalized; SAWS says most customers should have water restored in coming days

New COVID-19 case data expected Monday

SAN ANTONIO – San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg and Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff updated the community about the local response to COVID-19 and the winter weather in their briefing Friday night.

Nirenberg reported that COVID-19 case data is not available from the state at this time due to the severe weather this week. New case and death numbers are expected on Monday.

The mayor also reported that 696 patients are hospitalized, 253 are in the intensive care unit and 142 are on ventilators. There are 8% of staffed beds available and 61% of ventilators available.

There were 51 hospital admissions in the last 24 hours, Nirenberg said.

Wolff and Nirenberg both spoke about the rescheduling of COVID-19 vaccine appointments at the Wonderland Mall and WellMed administration sites. Click here to see the latest information for all vaccination sites.

Nirenberg said the positivity rate has dropped below 15% for seven consecutive days, meaning certain business operations may now increase occupancy to 75%. Click here to learn more.


RELATED: Here are the water, food distribution centers open in the San Antonio area

Winter Weather Response Update

During the briefing, Nirenberg said he spoke with Gov. Greg Abbott, who committed to helping San Antonio leaders coordinate with FEMA to bring more relief to residents affected by the winter storm this week.

The mayor also thanked the many volunteers who gave their time to distribute water and food to residents in need.

Wolff said many dialysis centers have reopened for patients who need them to survive. He also said the county is working on setting up distribution sites for bottled water.

CPS Energy

Nirenberg said CPS Energy had fewer than 500 outages as of 4:43 p.m. Friday. He said the outages are primarily due to equipment restoration from the winter storm.

Wolff said he sent a letter to Gov. Abbott, asking him to radically change how the state’s power grid operates. Click here to learn more and read the entire letter.

San Antonio Water System

San Antonio Water System CEO Robert Puente says about 20% of customers don’t currently have water. He said the problem with getting water to those communities is that they live further away from the pump stations, which are closer to the city’s center.

Puente says it’s likely most customers will have their water restored by Sunday or Monday. SAWS will be restoring service to residents throughout the entire weekend, he said.

The utility company CEO said SAWS hopes to lift the boil water notice 24 hours after all customers have restored service. He said it’s something that may have to be done in phases.

When questioned about why SAWS doesn’t have a generator that would have been strong enough to push out water to residents when there was no power at the pumps, Puente responded that cost of a generator of that magnitude would exceed the overall benefit since it wouldn’t be used frequently.

However, he said SAWS would explore the idea of investing in something like that if there’s a type of severe weather situation utility leaders believe Texans may face frequently that would justify the cost of purchasing the equipment.

SAWS is providing customers water bill relief following the winter storms. For more information, click here.

Watch the entire briefing in the video player above to hear more from city and county leaders.


About the Author

Ivan Herrera has worked as a journalist in San Antonio for four years. Using his graduate degree in business from UTSA, he developed "Money: It's Personal," a weekly series that airs on GMSA at 9 on Tuesdays. The series breaks down personal finance topics into easy explainers. Before living in SA, Ivan covered border news in the Rio Grande Valley.

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