San Antonio without EMS transports for 26 minutes Thursday amid surge in COVID-19 calls, city manager says

Mayor says said 64% of the eligible population in Bexar County has been fully vaccinated

SAN ANTONIOEditor’s Note: An earlier version of this story stated EMS calls were not responded to for 26 minutes. That has since been corrected with information from SAFD officials.

San Antonio City Manager Erik Walsh said there were 39 available EMS units on Thursday, and all were in use for 26 minutes amid a surge of 911 calls for COVID-19 and other emergencies. However, SAFD officials say 911 calls were answered during that time and responded to, but some transports to the hospital may have been delayed.

“We can’t transport any emergency medical calls, whether it’s COVID or not, whether it’s someone who’s vaccinated or not. That means we’re not transporting heart attacks, traffic accidents or any other sort of medical call. So it is critical,” Walsh said of the possible transport delays.

Walsh said the city is working with hospitals to get EMS in and out as quickly as possible to get to other patients calling 911. He said SAFD is making structural adjustments to try to get more coverage and to have cadets who were supposed to graduate in September finish a little earlier.

Out of the 117 COVID-19 calls for EMS, 73 people were transported, which San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg said was a record number. There were 193 admissions into area hospitals, 28 of which were pediatric patients, Nirenberg said.

Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff said the county is trying to reduce hospital stress with the Fusion Center, which provides COVID-19 patients with treatment without needing to be admitted. He said there were between 50 and 60 people who went to the Fusion Center on Thursday.

Wolff and Nirenberg said the county and city requested 550 extra medical workers to combat COVID-19 in our area two weeks ago. However, they believe more will be needed as the number of hospitalizations goes up.

Dr. Anita Kurian, assistant director of the San Antonio Metropolitan Health District, said 300 extra medical workers were coming to the region, and the Southwest Texas Advisory Council is requesting more.

Out of the 1,212 COVID-19 cases reported during the briefing, 99% were of the Delta variant, officials said. Kurian said six vaccinated people have died after testing positive for COVID-19. However, she stressed that those vaccinated patients were all over 60 years of age and had underlying health conditions.

See today’s COVID-19 numbers and what to know about the latest rise in San Antonio and surrounding areas here.

Nirenberg said 64% of the eligible population in Bexar County has been fully vaccinated. Officials continue to push for more people to get vaccinated. Kurian said mistrust of the vaccine and hesitancy are keeping some populations from getting their shots, so Metro Health is taking the vaccine and information to the community to help gain trust from people who have doubts.

Attorneys for San Antonio and Bexar County will be back in court on Monday to seek a permanent injunction against Gov. Greg Abbott’s ban on mask mandates in schools. Officials said the ruling is needed in order to keep children safe on campus. For now, the Bexar County Health Authority health directive remains in place until a judge rules on the matter. See the full health directive below or click here.

Watch the entire briefing in the video player below to hear more from city and county leaders. Click here to watch if you are reading KSAT’s coronavirus newsletter.

Bexar County Health Directive 8/10/21


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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