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Texas Public Radio is updating the latest information on COVID-19 in the San Antonio area, along with how local businesses are adjusting, how you can help those in need and what you can do to stay entertained at home. TPR is also providing live updates on the Rio Grande Valley.
Here’s what we know …
Saturday, April 25
11:00 a.m. — ‘Mr. Fiesta’ keeps the party going
With Fiesta postponed to the fall, one San Antonian whose identity is tied to the citywide celebration should be having a tough week … but he’s not.
First off, you need to know that Michael Quintanilla has an unofficial title.
“Yes, Mr. Fiesta!” he joked. “I guess you could say that Fiesta for some people has become a siesta. But I’m trying not to sleep my way through that through these eleven days!”
The former fashion writer for the San Antonio Express-News first got the Mr. Fiesta title there at the newspaper.
“It was coined actually by a good friend of mine,” he explained, “because I would show up at the Express-News wearing my hats and costumes and just, you know, silly things.”
Quintanilla takes dressing up to extremes, from bedazzled top hats and shoes to flowing capes and even silver suits. During Fiesta, over the top is his norm.
San Antonio is looking less than sparkly these days but Quintanilla is determined that the party will go on.
“We also have to find moments of joy. And this is how I choose to find it with Fiesta. And I know other people do, too.”
Also, TPR’s Joey Palacios recently met a family who held a special memorial for the biggest Fiesta fan they knew: their family matriarch, who passed away last month. They shared with him their memorial to her.
10:00 a.m. — Texas National Guard soldiers train in San Antonio
San Antonio Fire Chief Charles Hood said Friday that local health care workers are training Texas National Guard members at the testing site at Freeman Coliseum.
Mayor Ron Nirenberg and County Judge Nelson Wolff praised the city-county operation at Freeman as an example for the state to follow, like it did after major hurricanes.
“Let the record show, once again, I mean this happened 15 years ago — when the state wants to learn how to do emergency response they come to San Antonio,” Nirenberg said.
Hood explained the guard members will be mobile and deployed to conduct testing in areas that are underserved in the city and region.
9:30 a.m. — Boerne ISD offers wi-fi
Boerne Independent School District has Wi-Fi hotspots available at several of its schools.
Drive-up hotspots are located in the parking lots of Champion High School, Fabra Elementary, Boerne High School, and Boerne Middle School.
Social distancing is encouraged when using the Wi-Fi hotspots.
9:00 a.m. — New system to clean masks
A system capable of decontaminating 80,000 medical grade masks a day in the battle against COVID-19 is being set up at Freeman Coliseum.
San Antonio Fire Chief Charles Hood reported on Friday that local hospitals will mark their own masks before being transported for decontamination.
“They are going to put a name or initials on the masks because they found that it’s better to get your own mask back,” he explained. “So those will be … double bagged, boxed and then they will be sent for the decontamination.”
Hood said hospitals outside of San Antonio will also have access to the decontamination system operated by Ohio-based Battelle. The system uses a process for decontamination called “vapor-phased hydrogen peroxide” and allows the masks to be safely reused.
7:45 a.m. — More positive cases at the jail
Fifty-seven inmates at the Bexar County Jail have tested positive for COVID-19, and ten have recovered.
The Texas Organizing Project is providing bail for low level offenders. Since the pandemic began, the Bexar County jail has released more than 800 inmates. About 3,000 remain.
Bexar County Sheriff Javier Salazar said the jail is suggesting certain inmates to TOP.
“What we’re doing with them is we’re actually supplying them with the names of people that we think would be good candidates for it,” he explained. “And then they make the decision based upon what their resources are and how comfortable they feel.”
Gov. Greg Abbott issued an emergency order that prevented the personal recognizance bond of inmates previously convicted of violent crimes. The Texas Supreme Court upheld that order on Thursday.
TPR’s Joey Palacios recently explored the county jail’s response to the COVID-19 outbreak in a special web-only report.
Friday, April 24
6:13 p.m. — Total confirmed cases at 1,195
Mayor Ron Nirenberg and County Judge Nelson Wolff were joined by Fire Department Chief Charles Hood at Friday’s briefing. Nirenberg said that the number of confirmed cases is up 28 from yesterday, bringing the total to 1,195.
The total number of recoveries is now 383, up 22 from yesterday. There are no new deaths from yesterday, leaving the total at 43.
Wolff said the Bexar County Jail has confirmed 21 more cases, bringing the total at the jail to 57. Of those 57, 10 have recovered, 45 are isolated and two are in the hospital.
Both Wolff and Nirenberg acknowledged that Gov. Greg Abbott will reevaluate his executive order for Essential Services and Activities Protocols next week.
“When we talk about the management and the containment of this pandemic years from now, I think San Antonio will show as a bright star, all of the things that we’re doing to control this pandemic and save lives. So, thank you for doing your part,” Nirenberg said. “This is a work in progress, though, and when we’re making that progress and flattening the curve, it’s not time to stop.”
However, Nirenberg said San Antonio and Bexar County will adjust accordingly.
“The orders that come out from the city and the county from the judge and myself next week will reflect everything we can do to keep our community safe and hope that in a safe manner depending on what our state does,” he said.
5:50 p.m. — Watch Friday’s daily briefing
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines
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