'COVID-19 HAS A GRIP ON US. THE VIRUS HAS GAINED A FOOTHOLD IN OUR COMMUNITY'
For a time, too many San Antonians let their guard down in the fight against the coronavirus.
Collectively, we spent most of March and all of April staying at home for the most part, and we succeeded in slowing the spread of the virus.
It seemed that we had a grip on COVID-19, but now it has a grip on us. The virus has gained a foothold in our community.
During the weeks following the launch of the Gov. Greg Abbott’s reopening plan, which began on May 1, many people began to feel relaxed and returned to a pre-COVID lifestyle.
The Memorial Day weekend brought trips to the crowded beaches and large gatherings.
And as a result, COVID-19 in San Antonio – and the state of Texas as a whole – has been getting worse over the last few weeks.
Almost every day, the news has been increasingly bad and the growth in seriously ill patients is filling the hospitals. The month of June and the first half of July have been the worst by far for our community.
On June 1, we reported 9 new cases for a total of 2,839 COVID-19 positive patients since the pandemic hit our community earlier this year. Of those, 93 were hospitalized, 39 patients were in intensive care and 20 were on ventilators.
Now, several hundred cases are being reported daily, and the total has topped 1,000 on more than one occasion. Hospitalizations have reached as high as 1,240. And the number of patients on ventilators each day has surpassed 200.
Our hospital system is being stressed by the dramatic growth in COVID-19 patients, and the average age of people who have contracted the virus has dropped significantly. Last week, about 45 percent of the local cases involved people between 20 and 39 years old.
Our medical community was forced to request hundreds of nurses and other medical professionals from the state of the federal governments to help carry the load.
Abbott partially rolled back the reopening plan by closing bars. The governor also mandated masks when physical distancing wasn’t possible as County Judge Nelson Wolff and I had been urging him to do.
The coronavirus will be with us for many more months or longer.
The bottom line is that we have to make relatively minor adjustments to stay healthy.
Wear a mask or face covering when you are in public and can’t maintain physical distancing. Stay six feet away from people who don’t live in your household when possible. And wash your hands frequently.
These measures are inconvenient, but they will protect you as well as your family friends and coworkers.
Taking precautions to protect others is the least we can do for our community.
Until we have a vaccine and proven therapeutic drugs that effectively fight the coronavirus, we must accept these minor inconveniences.
COVID-19 is not a disease that should be taken lightly. The death rate may be low for younger patients, but the hospital bills can be astronomical.
Ron Nirenberg is mayor of San Antonio.