President Trump’s COVID-19 comments draw reaction from San Antonio coronavirus survivors, loved ones

‘It’s careless to put it mildly,’ says daughter who lost her mother

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

SAN ANTONIO – “Don’t be afraid of Covid,” and similar recent statements made by President Donald Trump, despite his coronavirus diagnosis, were considered “careless, to put it mildly,” by Dr. Erika Gonzalez, who lost her mother to the virus in September.

Gonzalez said her father, who is dealing with the death of his wife of 51 years, is home from the hospital but relies on a tracheotomy to help him breathe because of COVID-19.

“I think that, obviously, my mom’s perspective would be you should be very afraid of the virus,” Gonzalez said.

The president and CEO of South Texas Allergy and Asthma Medical Professionals said it should be “a healthy fear, but definitely not disregard the true damage that this virus can do.”

Ron Wilkins, a noted musician and kidney transplant recipient who was finally released from the hospital in the summer after testing positive for the virus, said, “It’s not nearly as touch-and-go as it used to be.”

Wilkins is teaching trombone again at Texas State University.

“I’m more mobile and more able, but I still deal with a few aches and pains I didn’t have before,” he said. “Mentally, you know, there’s at times I’ll have these little gaps still in the thought process.”

Wilkins said he considers President Trump’s statements “a travesty.”

He said the President should tell the people who’ve already died, their friends and families, and those still suffering from COVID-19, “Don’t let it dominate your life.”

Gordon Hartman, the philanthropist and founder of Morgan’s Wonderland, said he was among the luckier ones.

Hartman said he was never hospitalized but was diagnosed with a “moderate” case of COVID-19. He later donated convalescent plasma to help others.

“I had an incredibly bad headache. I had chills, fever, coughs, a lot of typical things you hear that come with COVID,” he said. “It stuck around pretty aggressively.”

Hartman said one of the plumbers helping build Morgan Wonderland’s Camp died from COVID-19 despite being a 49-year-old man with no known health conditions.

“So to say that we can ‘look the other way’ or that ‘we’re past this’ or ‘don’t let it take control of your life,’ I would say is something that has to be definitely heard with much caution,” Hartman said. “It’s something that does need to be taken very seriously.”

CityFest 2020: A weeklong festival of ideas focused on San Antonio’s resiliency

CityFest 2020: A weeklong festival of ideas focused on San Antonio’s resiliency

This story was originally published by San Antonio Report and can be found here

The turning of the calendar brought a turn in leadership to the San Antonio Report’s board of directors. A.J. Rodriguez ascended to board chairman late last month, after John “Chico” Newman Jr. stepped down from that position and the board after more than five years.

The changes went into effect at the board’s Jan. 25 meeting.

Rodriguez joined the board in 2020, after briefly serving on the San Antonio Report’s Board of Community Advisors. Founding Vice Chair Newman, who served as chairman for a year, decided to retire from the board because he believes the organization needs a fresh set of eyes. Newman served on the board since its inception, when the San Antonio Report, founded in 2012, reorganized as a nonprofit in 2016.

The change in board leadership comes three months after the board named Angie Mock publisher and CEO of the nonprofit news organization, replacing co-founder Robert Rivard, who continues to serve as editor and lead columnist. Mock previously served as CEO of the Boys & Girls Club of San Antonio and had been a member of the San Antonio Report’s board since 2018.

“We are deeply grateful for Chico’s vision, dedication, and passion that led us from a blog to a thriving nonprofit news organization,” Mock said. “Equally, I’m excited about what the future holds with A.J.’s leadership. A.J. brings a wealth of nonprofit success and strategic vision to the San Antonio Report.”

Rodriguez joined the nonprofit Texas 2036 in September 2020 as the executive vice president. Texas 2036 is a nonpartisan organization that provides research-based solutions to make Texas a better place for all residents by the state’s bicentennial. Before that, he served as vice president of external affairs and on the executive leadership team of Zachry Group, a privately held construction and engineering business. Rodriguez also served as the deputy city manager for the City of San Antonio from 2008 to 2011.

This experience makes Rodriguez the best fit to lead the board of directors as the San Antonio Report continues to evolve, Newman said.

“He is the right person at the right time,” Newman said. “You really can’t be any better than the leadership of an organization. With the combination of Angie and A.J., the San Antonio Report has outstanding leadership.”

A longtime fan of the San Antonio Report, Rodriguez said he joined the Board of Community Advisors and then the board of directors because he truly believes in the organization’s mission.

“I’ve felt compelled to participate in any way I could to support the mission of the organization,” he said.

Retired SBC Southwestern Bell President Wayne Alexander is the vice chair and treasurer of the board, while San Antonio Report founder and Editor Rivard serves as secretary. Other board directors include Teach for America Chief People Officer Laura Saldivar Luna, attorney Brian Steward, former Rackspace Community Affairs Director Cara Nichols, and Dr. Erika Gonzalez, CEO, president, and co-founder of South Texas Allergy and Asthma Professionals. Kate Rogers, a longtime H-E-B executive and the former vice president of community outreach and engagement for the Charles Butt Foundation, rounds out the eight-member board.

As the new board chairman, Rodriguez said he wants to serve as a resource for the organization, to help grow and develop the San Antonio Report at “an increasingly rapid rate,” and to maintain the high standards of journalism it upholds. He also said he is excited to work with Mock as she carries the organization forward under her leadership.

“There’s nowhere to go but up,” Rodriguez said.

Looking back over the past five years, Newman said he could not agree more. If someone had told him five years ago that the San Antonio Report would be where it is today, he would have said that was “aspirational.”

“For a small group, we punch way above our weight,” he said.

Newman has watched the organization evolve from just a handful of people to a staff of 20, from a small startup to a professional organization. He said the shifts in leadership are part of the same evolution for the San Antonio Report and will help further its mission to build a more informed community.

“We should constantly be learning, evolving, and getting better – and we have,” he said. “The organization has come a long way in five and a half years.”

San Antonio Report Staff

SAN ANTONIO REPORT STAFF

This article was assembled by various members of the San Antonio Report staff. 

25 influential Latinos in San Antonio

Hispanic Heritage Month

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

SAN ANTONIO – San Antonio, a majority Hispanic city, has the fourth-largest Latino population in the United States.

From chefs and political stars to entertainers, athletes and personalities bigger than the North Star Mall boots, here’s a look at 25 influential Latinos in San Antonio, in no particular order.

Chef Johnny Hernandez: He is one of the premier Mexican chefs in not only San Antonio but across the country. It all started with his first restaurant La Gloria in 2010 and it has flourished to now the owner of multiple La Gloria restaurants, Burgerteca, La Fruteria, a fleet of margarita trucks and a catering company. Hernandez is also big on giving back to his community and young chefs with his Kitchen Campus foundation.

The competition between three San Antonio chefs was organized by Chef Johnny Hernandez and took place at the Old School Bar and Grill in Austin, the headquarters for SATX at SXSW during the SXSW conference.

The competition between three San Antonio chefs was organized by Chef Johnny Hernandez and took place at the Old School Bar and Grill in Austin, the headquarters for SATX at SXSW during the SXSW conference.

Cruz Ortiz: His art can be found all around the state and has been featured in galleries around the world. Ortiz’s unique style of paintings, murals and prints sets him a part. When you see a piece of art done by Cruz, you know right away it’s his work.

Jesse Borrego: Born and raised in San Antonio, Borrego hit it big when he was casted in the cult classic movie “Blood In Blood Out” alongside Benjamin Bratt. Since then, Borrego has been in the movie “Con Air” the television series “24” and “Dexter.” Borrego still calls San Antonio home and gives back to the local theater community.

Marina Gonzales: The former CEO of Child Advocates San Antonio is now the new president and CEO of the San Antonio Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. “As a first-generation college and law school graduate, and daughter of an entrepreneur, I understand the critical role that Hispanic-owned businesses play in the success of our community and our economy,” Gonzales said.

Marina Gonzales has been named the new president and CEO of the San Antonio Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.

Marina Gonzales has been named the new president and CEO of the San Antonio Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. (KSAT)

Jessie Degollado: A pioneer for Latina journalists in San Antonio, we had to include KSAT’s very own Jessie Degollado. An award-winning journalist who’s been at KSAT since 1984, she covers a wide variety of stories and is especially familiar with border and immigration issues.

Jessie Degollado

Jessie Degollado (KSAT)

The Castros: Rosie, Julian and Joaquin have all been inspirational and influential in their own respective ways. Rosie Castro is an educator and a political and community activist, while her twin sons have achieved successful political careers – growing up on the historic West Side, attending Jefferson High School in the Woodlawn Lake neighborhood and going on to represent the city as mayor and congressman.

(Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

(Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

Cristina Martinez: Born and raised on the South Side, Martinez has created a successful online and pop-up market called “Very That.” Her work has resonated with many Hispanics and she has also developed a huge following on social media. Learn more about Martinez in the video below.

Flaco Jiménez: The king of the accordion, Jiménez is a legend in the music industry. A key part of the Texas Tornado, Jiménez has played alongside The Rolling Stones, Willie Nelson, Dwight Yoakam and so many more. In 2015, he won a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award.

Manu Ginobili: GINOBILI!!!!! He may be from Argentina but Manu Ginobili is very much a part of San Antonio after playing for the Spurs from 2002 to 2018. He’s the winner of four NBA Championships and an Olympic Gold Medal. Now retired, you can still catch Ginobili around town.

(AP Photo/Eric Gay)
(AP Photo/Eric Gay)

Elaine Ayala: A San Antonio native, Ayala has been a journalist for almost 40 years and a part of the Express-News since 1996. Ayala is the winner of many prestigious journalism awards as well as being inducted into the Edgewood ISD Hall of Fame, the San Antonio Women’s Hall of Fame and the National Association of Hispanic Journalist’s Hall of Fame.

Judge Rosie Speedlin Gonzalez: The first openly gay judge to be elected in Bexar County and now runs one of two domestic violence courts. Since her first day on the bench in Jan. 2019, Gonzalez hears thousands of cases and established a drug court within her court to provide court-supervised drug treatment.

Adam Ray Okay: 2020 has been a big year for this San Antonio social media influencer. The 20-year-old has over a million followers on TikTok and Instagram all waiting to see what his character “Rosa” is going to do next.

Cortez Family: This family has been serving up Tex-Mex favorites at Market Square for 75 years. Their footprint has grown to include Mi Tierra, La Magarita, Pico De Gallo, Viva Villa and Mi Familia at the Rim.

Chris Perez: He may have been Selena’s husband but guitarist Perez has truly made a name from himself. The Chris Perez Band is still making music and recently Perez also got into the hot sauce game. Born and raised in San Antonio, Perez recently spoke with KSAT 12 about Selena’s legacy 25 years later.

Larry Garza: Born and raised in San Antonio, Garza has become a well-known comedian throughout the area and state. He’s been performing for over 15 years and is a founding member of the award-winning sketch group Comedia A Go-Go. The past several years Garza has been battling cancer but is still finding way’s to make people laugh.

Dr. Erika Gonzalez: A native of San Antonio, Gonzalez is the CEO and President of both South Texas Allergy & Asthma Medical Professionals (STAAMP) and STAAMP Clinical Research. Her resume also includes serving as the Chief of Allergy, Immunology and Rheumatology Division at the Children’s Hospital of San Antonio and now is the 2020 Chairwoman for the San Antonio Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. And we can also thank Gonzalez for her military service. She served 10 years as a medical officer in the U.S. Air Force.

Dr. Erika Gonzalez

Dr. Erika Gonzalez (KSAT)

Henry Cisneros: The former mayor of San Antonio has played an important role for Latinos in politics. He was the second Latino mayor of a major American city and served as the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development in President Bill Clinton’s administration. Today he continues to advocate for the Latino community in San Antonio and beyond.

Michael Quintanilla: An award-winning journalist, Quintanilla is a fashion and style writer. He has worked for the Los Angeles TimesDallas Times Herald and the San Antonio Express-News. Now retired, Quintanilla can still be seen around town and his famous Fiesta attire has been exhibited at the Institute of Texan Cultures.

Erika Prosper Nirenberg: Currently the first lady of San Antonio, Nirenberg has blazed her own path here in San Antonio and is influential to many. She’s an executive at H-E-B, the 2018 chairwoman of the San Antonio Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and has recently created a workbook for children.

Angela Salinas: She served in the U.S. Marine Corps for 39 years and is the first Latina promoted to the general officer ranks. When she retired in 2013, she was the senior ranking woman and Hispanic in the Corps. Currently, Salinas is the Chief Executive Officer for the Girl Scouts and has also been inducted into the San Antonio’s Women’s Hall of Fame, the Hispanic Women in Leadership Hall of Fame and numerous other accolades.

Ricardo Chavira: Raised in San Antonio, Chavira is best known for playing Carlos Solis in “Desperate Housewives.” He has gone on to roles in numerous television shows and was most recently cast as Abraham Quintanilla, the father of late Tejano singer Selena in the upcoming Netflix series, “Selena.”

Archbishop Gustavo García-Siller: The leader of the San Antonio Diocese since 2010 he is one of the highest-ranking Mexican American bishops in the United States. Archbishop García-Siller also currently sits on a number of committees for the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.

photo

Judge Rosie Alvarado: The presiding judge of the 438th District Court in Bexar County, Alvardo manages a therapeutic restorative court for girls in foster care called PEARLS Court. She was most recently appointed to the Texas Children’s Commission by the Texas Supreme Court.

Jeret Peña: He’s a well-known name in the bar industry in San Antonio. Peña is a leader in the cocktail scene and in 2012 was named the Austin-San Antonio Rising Star Mixologist by StarChefs. He is the owner of The Brooklynite, which closed last year but expected to reopen in a new location and also owns Still Golden.

Ally Brooke: The singer has made a name for herself across the world. She was first a part of the successful girl group Fifth Harmony and has been a solo artist since 2017. Most recently she competed in Dancing With the Stars and is working on an album to be released next year. Brooke was born in San Antonio and often gives back to the community.

Singer Ally Brooke back home and spreading holiday cheer

Singer Ally Brooke back home and spreading holiday cheer

Esperanza Hall residents to receive monthly COVID-19 tests

This story was originally published by The Mesquite (TAMUSA) and can be found here

Students living at Texas A&M University-San Antonio will receive monthly COVID-19 tests. Provided by the A&M System, 700 tests per month will be administered without cost to Esperanza Hall dorm residents.

Located in portable 101B behind the Central Academic Building and open from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday – Friday, the administering of tests is overseen by STAAMP Allergy, a local service provider, while Curative Inc., a Los Angeles national testing company, provides confidential results.

According to Dr. Mari Fuentes-Martin, vice president of Student Success and Engagement, with over 100 dorm residents tested, the decision to require monthly tests was made the final week of August starting the 26th after the number of COVID-19 tests provided to the university was verified the second week of school.

The university wasn’t sure of how severe COVID-19 was going to be or how many tests they were being provided when school opened up. Fuentes-Martin said because of this uncertainty, wellness stations were set up to take the temperatures of new residents moving in.

“The reason we’re very interested in that population is that they spend 24/7 together, unlike a classroom,” Fuentes-Martin said. “…You’re just in such close proximity to each other for a very extended amount of time, so we wanted to be extraordinarily careful.”

Though there have been zero positive cases among dorm residents, the university already has accommodations in place for Esperanza Hall residents who test positive.

Positive residents will be moved to an isolated apartment and asked to quarantine in place, while those potentially exposed to them are tested and quarantined for at least 48 hours.

Fuentes-Martin says A&M-San Antonio’s main goal is to provide the safest environment possible through preventative measures. To develop these measures, A&M-San Antonio partnered with American Campus Communities, the operators of Esperanza Hall, to find the best way to approach the situation.

“We looked at their safety protocols, we looked at their signage, and we were able to blend a lot of those things and expectations that we had for safety with what they also had,” Fuentes-Martin said.

Education freshman Paige Borenheim started living in the dorms at the beginning of the fall 2020 semester and is witnessing the effects of COVID-19 on Esperanza Hall firsthand. Masks are needed on short trips outside rooms and visitors aren’t allowed; doorknobs and handrails are cleaned systematically and elevators have limited capacity.

While Borenheim has a roommate, she says most dorm residents don’t because many potential residents canceled their plans to move in.

“I know a lot of people who have no one to hang out with or they’re kind of just actually isolated with no one,” Borenheim said.

Along with these changes comes the monthly COVID-19 testing requirement.

“I have mixed feelings on it because obviously it takes a lot out of your day to go get tested,” Borenheim said. “I got tested a week ago, and they sent us an email the day before we had to get tested like, ‘by the way, you have to get tested every month.’ So there was a long line of 30-plus people in the hot sun for an hour plus.”

Borenheim says she now has conflicting feelings about how the process is currently being handled.

“I do like it,” Borenheim said. ”I know they’re trying to make sure no one’s contracting the virus or anything but at the same time it’s kind of like, I wish there was a better way to go on with it.”

Fuentes-Martin said she wants students to know that A&M–San Antonio is adapting and that the university has services to help deal with COVID-19 which can be found at https://www.tamusa.edu/community-safety-together/index.html

“If you need a laptop, or if you need Wi-Fi…The library’s open, advising is open, you know, so we’re here to help students,” Fuentes-Martin said. “We don’t want you all to think that we’re invisibly not here. We are here.”

This story was updated at 5:49 p.m. Sept. 11 to correct “Stamp” to “STAAMP Allergy” and to explain that Curative Inc. provides confidential results.

San Antonio physician turns mission into passion after losing mother to COVID-19

Dr. Erika Gonzalez lost her mother to the virus but she hopes to raise awareness through non-profit

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

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