No tenting allowed in San Antonio parks throughout Easter weekend at the same time as COVID-19 numbers proceed to fall

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Even as coronavirus transmission continued to decline in San Antonio on Monday and all adults in Texas were eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, the city will ban camping in public parks on Easter weekend.

Overnight camping in city parks is a cherished Easter tradition that was also canceled last year due to the pandemic. But the parks will still be open to the public during the day, Mayor Ron Nirenberg said at the daily coronavirus briefing in the borough.

“I know this has been a disappointing and difficult year for everyone,” said Nirenberg. “We ask for your patience as we try to put this pandemic behind us.”

The positivity rate, or the percentage of people who tested for the virus and found infected, dropped to 2.1 percent on Monday. A week ago, that number – a measure of the spread of the virus – was 2.3 percent.

Transmission of the virus has decreased significantly as the winter flood of COVID-19 marginalized local hospitals. At this point, the positivity rate was 23.2 percent. Health officials consider a rate below 5 percent as a sign that virus transmission is at a manageable level.

Even so, officials warned residents not to lose their vigilance as cases rise across the country and more contagious variants spread – even as local numbers tend to decline.

“We don’t want to take any risk of another outbreak,” said Nelson Wolff, a Bexar County judge.

More than 467,000 people in Bexar County received their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, according to the Texas Department of Health. That’s just over 30 percent of the adult population – about 1.6 million. Almost 268,000 were fully vaccinated.

Of Bexar County’s residents aged 65 and over, nearly 60 percent have received at least one vaccine, officials said Monday. Thirty percent of residents aged 16 and over have received at least one shot, they said.

Some of the 30,000 appointments made available at the city’s mass vaccination site at the Alamodome last week were still available on Monday at 311, said Colleen Bridger, city assistant manager, the city’s coronavirus tsar.

The university health system, the district’s hospital system, will soon be making appointments available to all residents regardless of their age, Wolff said.

“We are working very hard to ensure that multiple systems are in place so that people who do not have access to the Internet can still access appointments,” said Bridger.

Officials reported 159 new cases of COVID-19 on Monday, bringing the total number of confirmed cases in Bexar County since the pandemic started in March last year to 205,258.

The seven-day moving average of new cases was 183 on Monday – seven more than a week ago, but less than 376 at the beginning of the month. At the height of the pandemic in January, the seven-day average was over 2,000.

Officials did not report any new deaths on Monday. The total confirmed death toll since last March stands at 3,144.

Bexar County’s hospitals reported 192 COVID-19 patients – a slight increase from 188 last week, but less than half of the 464 patients hospitalized with coronavirus on March 1.

Twenty more patients have been admitted to local hospitals in the past 24 hours, officials said.

78 patients are in the intensive care unit for severe cases of the virus, while 38 are on ventilators to make it easier for them to breathe.