Local doctor gives tips on telling mountain cedar allergies and COVID symptoms apart

This story was originally published by Fox29 and can be found here
SAN ANTONIO- If you are sniffling a lot right now, mountain cedar might just be the culprit. The season lasts until about February. Doctors are reminding you to monitor how you are feeling and they have one way you can tell COVID and allergies symptoms apart. "If you have a fever, that's pretty much a tell tell sign that it's not allergies. Allergies do not give you a fever, so if you have a fever you should really be thinking this may be COVID or another virus. If there is a lot of itching: itchy noise, itchy eyes, that's very commonly associated with allergies," said Dr. Erika Gonzales of Staamp Allergy.

Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine now in San Antonio

Some 500 health care professionals will begin getting the vaccine, including school nurses, according to South Texas Allergy and Asthma Medical Professionals.

This story was originally published by Kens5 and can be found here
SAN ANTONIO — Some of the first doses of Moderna's COVID-19 vaccine arrived this morning at South Texas Allergy and Asthma Medical Professionals, also known as STAAMP Allergy.
According to STAAMP Allergy, 500 health care professionals will begin getting the vaccine as it works with more than 20 local clinics to vaccinate their healthcare worker staff and teams. STAAMP will also begin administering the shots to local San Antonio school nurses.
The Texas Department of Health and Human Services chose STAAMP as an official COVID-19 vaccine administration site after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved Moderna’s vaccine for emergency use last Friday.
“We are working hard to meet the needs of the community. Our population has been hit hard by this pandemic and we are starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel and we have to trust in the scientists and health experts and take this crucial vaccine,” Dr. Erika Gonzalez, STAAMP Allergy's CEO and Medical Director said. "STAAMP is working diligently and will be administering 500 doses of the vaccine this week."

STAAMP Allergy to administer 500 Moderna COVID-19 vaccines to health care workers

Moderna vaccine expected to be delivered this week

This story was originally published by KSAT12 and can be found here

SAN ANTONIO – South Texas Allergy and Asthma Medical Professionals, also known as STAAMP Allergy, will begin administering the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine to 500 health care professionals.

“We are working hard to meet the needs of the community. Our population has been hit hard by this pandemic and we are starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel and we have to trust in the scientists and health experts and take this crucial vaccine,” said Dr. Erika Gonzalez, CEO and Medical Director at STAAMP Allergy.

The Texas Department of Health and Human Services selected STAAMP as an official COVID-19 vaccine administration site. The clinic is expected to receive the Moderna vaccine this week.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine’s emergency use authorization on Friday.

The vaccine will be administered in phases throughout the state of Texas, with health care workers and residents and staff of long-term care facilities at the front of the line. The next phase will include high-risk patients.

STAAMP says it’s working with more than 20 local clinics and organizations to administer the COVID-19 vaccine to health care workers. It will also be administering it to San Antonio school nurses.

STAAMP is one of a handful of entities on the list to get a portion of the 30,000 doses of Moderna vaccines headed for Bexar County this week. You can see the full list of other sites getting the vaccine by clicking here.

COVID-19 fatigue showing in Bexar County

Texas MedClinic doctor says weddings and family dinners are behind cases he’s seeing

SAN ANTONIO – As the COVID-19 pandemic drags on, local doctors say “COVID fatigue” is real as residents get sick, not of the coronavirus but of dealing with it.

“'You know, ‘I’ve had it up to here, and I’m not doing it anymore,’” said Texas MedClinic Chief Medical Officer Dr. David Gude, who said he has seen people going to more events they may have avoided earlier on in the pandemic.

While this past weekend saw supporters of both President-elect Joe Biden and President Donald Trump gather across the country, including in South Texas, it’s not big events that are currently sending patients to Gude’s chain of urgent care clinics. Instead, he says, it’s events like family dinners and weddings.

“Last week, I was seeing several people who went to a wedding,” Gude said. “There were five people so far that had tested positive because the wedding had been put off in May, and they just didn’t want to have to put it off any longer. So they had the wedding, and now multiple people are ill.”

Despite instances like this, Bexar County case numbers remained relatively low until Monday since the large wave of cases this summer. Meanwhile, the U.S. as a whole, has been hitting record highs for new cases in the past week.

Dr. Erika Gonzalez, the president and CEO of South Texas Allergy and Asthma Medical Professionals, thinks the local infection rate may play a role in local perceptions.

“You know, luckily, we did see the rate of infection kind of steady here in San Antonio. So I think that that also made people kind of get a false sense of security that, 'Hey, you know what? Maybe this thing is over,” Gonzalez said.

Gude agreed that the relatively low stats might provide a false sense of security, and he does not believe the numbers would hold.

“I don’t think that it’s because we have a shield on,” Gude said, regarding Bexar County’s previously low case numbers. “I think it’s just that we live in an environment that we can be outside, and we can get our social milieu by being outside. But once we have to move indoors, I’m still concerned that we’re going to see significant spikes.”

San Antonio allergy center tests blood clotting drug that could mitigate COVID-19’s lethal impacts

This story was originally published by SA Current and can be found here

Three named to San Antonio Report board of directors

https://sanantonioreport.org/three-named-to-san-antonio-report-board-of-directors/ This story was originally published by San Antonio Report and can be found here.
The San Antonio Report board of directors has elected three new directors. Confirmed during a board meeting on Monday, the three new directors are Dr. Erika Gonzalez, Cara Nichols, and A.J. Rodriguez. They will begin serving at the Oct. 28 board meeting. With the addition of these new members, the San Antonio Report board, which provides oversight of the nonprofit news organization, better reflects the ethnic and gender makeup of the San Antonio community, said board Chairman John “Chico” Newman. “I truly am very excited about these three individuals,” Newman said. “They’re just going to make the board a lot better – just having different perspectives is really important. The better we can be in the boardroom, the better off it is for the organization and for San Antonio.” The additions expand the board to 10 members and follow the Aug. 10 renaming of the San Antonio Report that occurred during its eighth year as a local news source. “The San Antonio Report continues to be my go-to news source for high-quality, timely, well-researched, thorough local updates on important community activity,” said Rodriguez, who is executive vice president of the nonprofit think tank Texas 2036. “I’m thrilled to participate on the board to support the publication’s ongoing growth and commitment to excellent service for our readers.” Prior to his recent appointment at Texas 2036, Rodriguez was vice president of external affairs at the San Antonio-based Zachry Group. A former director of community affairs for Rackspace Technology, Nichols said the San Antonio Report continues to lead the way in creating an informed citizenry with integrity, relevance, and credibility. “I am honored to join the board of such an outstanding organization and to continue to advocate for San Antonians to be aware of, and take an active role in, our city’s progress,” she said. Nichols serves on the board of the employee-funded Rackspace Foundation and previously served as editor of a high-end lifestyle magazine, C San Antonio. She is currently writing a book. A physician and 2020 chairwoman of the San Antonio Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, Gonzalez said she is joining the board during a time when people are looking in many places for news and information, especially during the coronavirus pandemic. “The San Antonio Report’s nonprofit approach to news is helping our community receive their news in an equitable way,” Gonzalez said. “I am excited to join the board of directors for a news source that has earned the respect of San Antonians.” Newman, an investor and president of the John and Florence Newman Family Foundation, began his term as chairman of the board in February. He succeeded founding Chairman Richard “Dick” T. Schlosberg III, who is now chairman of the San Antonio Report’s Board of Community Advisors, an advisory group of 20 nonvoting members established in July. Newman said the significant changes happening within the organization in the last year have been in the works long before now. “It just so happens it’s all coming together right about now,” he said. “The steps we’re taking now will make us successful and sustainable in the future – that’s the game plan.” Retired AT&T executive Wayne Alexander is vice chairman of the board, and other board officers include treasurer Angie Mock, president and CEO of the Boys and Girls Club of San Antonio, and Robert Rivard, the San Antonio Report’s publisher and editor who serves as the board’s secretary. “The addition of these three outstanding community leaders will give the San Antonio Report a more diverse and representative board of directors,” Rivard said Monday. Rounding out the San Antonio Report board are Kate Rogers, vice president of community outreach and engagement for the Charles Butt Foundation; Laura Saldivar Luna, chief people officer for Teach for America; and trial attorney Brian Steward. Board members serve for three years with the opportunity to renew for a second three-year term. The San Antonio Report, founded in 2012 as the Rivard Report, reorganized as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit in 2015.
Shari Biediger


Shari Biediger is the business beat reporter at the San Antonio Report. 

Friday at San Antonio CityFest

https://sanantonioreport.org/friday-at-san-antonio-cityfest/ This story was originally published by San Antonio Report and can be found here.
City policing, access to health equity, and the future of San Antonio drive Friday’s conversations on San Antonio CityFest’s final day of civic engagement events. The third annual San Antonio CityFest, a virtual urban ideas festival, runs through Friday. Its weeklong lineup of events, panel discussions, and entertainment features an array of topics including public health, business and job growth, transportation and development, and recovery from the economic and health crisis of the coronavirus pandemic. All CityFest 2020 programming is free and open to the public, with pre-registration required. Once attendees are registered they will receive an email giving them access to the festival web app. Registered attendees are also invited to download the Whova app for more opportunities to network, ask the panelists questions, and take the festival anywhere they go.

10 a.m.

San Antonio Report Senior Reporter Iris Dimmick speaks with Elizabeth Provencio, the City of San Antonio’s first assistant city attorney; Michael R. Smith, criminal justice professor at the University of Texas at San Antonio; Oji Martin, founder of Fix SAPD; and Mike Helle, president of the San Antonio Police Officers Association, for a panel on “Policing in San Antonio.

11 a.m.

San Antonio Poet Laureate Andrea “Vocab” Sanderson” and The Foreign Arm come together for a lively poetic performance, followed by a conversation with San Antonio Report Arts and Culture Reporter Nicholas Frank on the inspiration behind their work.


A panel on “Health Equity in South Texas” where city leaders and health professionals discuss the community’s joint effort to provide equitable access to health care. San Antonio Report Managing Editor Graham Watson-Ringo is joined by Dr. Somava Saha, Well Being In the Nation Network executive lead; Dr. Colleen Bridger, City of San Antonio assistant city manager; Dr. Erika Gonzalez, South Texas Allergy & Asthma Medical Professionals president and CEO; and Jaime Wesolowski, Methodist Healthcare Ministries president and CEO.

2:30 p.m.

San Antonio Report Photo Editor Scott Ball and staff photographer Bonnie Arbittier will co-moderate “Photojournalism During a Public Health Crisis” – a discussion with Bria Woods, executive producer at KAVU-TV in Victoria, and photographer Chris Lee about how the pandemic has prompted new ways of documenting current events.

3:30 p.m.

For the final event of San Antonio CityFest, San Antonio Report Editor and Publisher Robert Rivard moderates a conversation with city leaders in “Future of the City.” Panelists include Brian Dillard, City of San Antonio chief innovation officer; John Burnam, Burnam | Gray co-founder and principal; Ximena Alvarez, U.S. Census Bureau media specialist; Jenna Saucedo-Herrera, San Antonio Economic Development Foundation president and chief executive officer; and Alex Birnel, MOVE Texas advocacy manager. The full schedule is available here.
Samantha Ruvalcaba


Samantha Ruvalcaba, who grew up in San Antonio, is a Shiner intern and junior at St. Mary's University studying international and global studies with a minor in communications. 

CityFest: Turning redlining into ‘greenlining’ with health equity

https://sanantonioreport.org/cityfest-turning-redlining-into-greenlining-with-health-equity/ This story was originally published by San Antonio Report and can be found here
Take a 1930s map of San Antonio’s redlined communities – used to avoid “hazardous” loans in Black and Hispanic neighborhoods – and compare it with a map of families currently living below the poverty level and coronavirus cases. A disturbing pattern emerges: structural racism in action. Across the country, communities of color have been disproportionally impacted by the coronavirus pandemic in terms of economic and health outcomes, said Dr. Somava Saha, executive lead of Well Being in the Nation Network. “If you look at those places, what you’ll see is that they lack the underlying conditions of [a successful] place,” such as a clean environment, healthy food, and access to health care. Depending on how communities handle the pandemic, Saha said, “this is either a moment where we are going to erase those red lines or … we’re creating the future redlining maps. … That’s the charge for all of us in this moment in history, is to think about how we use this moment to ‘greenline’ the areas that have been redlined.” The City of San Antonio’s response and recovery plan is aimed at erasing those lines, said Colleen Bridger, assistant city manager and interim director of Metropolitan Health District. “Literally everything we’re doing is steeped in a focus on equity. … I love calling it greenlining.” Saha and Bridger spoke during a panel discussion on Friday as part of the San Antonio Report’s five-day urban ideas festival CityFest. They were joined by Erika Gonzalez, president and CEO of South Texas Allergy & Asthma Medical Professionals, and Jaime Wesolowski, president and CEO of Methodist Healthcare Ministries of South Texas, to discuss Saha’s keynote address on health equity and possible paths forward. Saha, who is a primary care doctor and public health practitioner, likened public health to a fire. “We [could be] the best-organized bucket brigade trying to put out a fire, [but] there is a tanker full of gasoline going into the fire at the same time,” Saha said. Similarly, doctors typically address the patient in front of them but not the underlying cause of the illness, she added. “What would it take for us to strategically shift those underlying things in the environment that are driving poor outcomes?”
These maps show (from left) racial segregation via redlining policies, poverty, and coronavirus cases in San Antonio.
These maps show (from left) racial segregation via redlining policies, poverty, and coronavirus cases in San Antonio. Credit: Courtesy / Dr. Somava Saha
Doctors treat children with asthma with medication – that’s an example of a “downstream” need, she said. But if someone digs further and finds out that their home has dust and mold that is causing the asthma, moving the child to a different home is a “mid-stream” solution. “If we both remediate [substandard housing] and also create policies that make it possible for those places to [sustain] high-quality housing – and often mixed-income housing – then we begin to change the underlying legacies of disinvestment that got us here,” Saha said. That’s one of the so-called “upstream” solutions. Saha is working with Methodist Healthcare Ministries to formulate an equity plan for the hospital system to address internal equity and start looking outside its traditional role of treating patients. The hospital system and nonprofit that serves 74 counties in South Texas is looking to broaden its scope to include upstream solutions. “We need to evaluate not just health outcomes but those upstream social determinants of health … food, housing, education, the list goes on and on,” Wesolowski said. The nonprofit will undergo an internal equity, diversity, and inclusion audit starting next week.
This graphic shows how downstream, midstream, and upstream health interventions are connected.
This graphic shows how downstream, midstream, and upstream health interventions are connected. Credit: Courtesy / Dr. Somava Saha
This equity work will involve partnerships with local governments, businesses, nonprofits, and – most importantly – the underserved community, he said. Door-to-door outreach to low-income communities of color is a priority in the City’s recovery plan, Bridger said, but one of the main barriers is trust. “Redining happened in the ’30s and here we are today and we’re still seeing those same communities suffering from those same problems,” she said. “They don’t believe us when we say, ‘Oh yes, this time we’re going to help you.’ … The only way to build trust is by saying what you’re doing to do and then doing what you said you were going to do. We’re just now in that transition from the saying to the doing part.” A key element to building that trust is forming relationships with neighborhood leaders and doctors who are established in those communities, Gonzalez said. Building those networks will help the city roll out its plans to stem the spread of coronavirus and help underserved populations take advantage of workforce development programs and other assistance that is available. “We’ve often used the Promotoras with our health workers in the community who speak the language, who understand the culture, who look like the people they are trying to help,” she said. That trust should work both ways, Saha said. Successful programs that see 50 to 75 percent improvement in health outcomes “are often the ones that are led by or have substantial leadership by those people with lived experience of inequity.” Health leaders need to trust that the community knows what it needs, she said. Wesolowski, of Methodist Healthcare Ministries, has learned that an important piece of equity work is listening. “We can’t come in there and tell them what they really need.”
Iris Dimmick


Senior reporter Iris Dimmick covers City Hall, politics, development, and more. Contact her at iris@sareport.org 
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