You saved 1,271 lives last week

Staying home last week saved 1,271 lives in San Antonio and Bexar County.

Not only that, but 8,832 people didn't go to the hospital because you stayed home, according to projections by CI:Now, a San Antonio nonprofit that expands access to data that is understandable, trustworthy and timely.

In response to the coronavirus pandemic, San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg and Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff issued a Stay Home, Work Safe Order on March 25, 2020.

For many people, staying home since then has been a frustrating experience with few tangible benefits.

Executive Director Laura McKieran, DrPH,  said the CI:Now team wanted to let people know about the positive impact their behavior can have.

"We used epidemiologists' COVID-19 models to put numbers to the hospitalizations and deaths in Bexar County that can be prevented between now and October by our staying home," CI:Now explained in this article on its website. (Learn more in this New York Times article about the impact of "social distancing" over time.)

Staying home through Easter on April 18 will save 2,542 lives, and that number would more than double to 5,607 at the 30-day mark, CI:Now's modeling showed. At the same time, staying home through Easter would prevent 26,180 people from going to the hospital, and after 30 days it will have prevented 56,186 people from being hospitalized.

If people stay home for 60 days - through May 25 - CI:Now's model showed that would keep 91,957 people from being hospitalized and would save 9,644 lives. (See or download a PDF illustration here.)

CI:Now noted that 9,644 is the same number of lives that would be saved if we could prevent or cure the county's top five causes of death combined: heart disease and stroke, cancer, Alzheimer's, accidents and diabetes.

CINOW flyer staying home saves lives

CI:Now said the pattern will hold true, "although we don't expect these numbers to be exact, because no model can truly predict the course of a viral outbreak."

Why is that?

"Because what happens depends so much on what we do, what we don't do, and when. And that's just the point," the article said.

"We also know that staying home is not enough if we can’t identify people with infection and house them safely and separately until they recover. With most infections causing mild symptoms or no symptoms at all, widespread testing is critical to finding those infections, and we just don’t yet have the supplies we need to do that testing," the CI:Now article said.

"So we offer this infographic painfully aware that it can’t tell the whole story or predict every possible future, nor can it ease any economic or personal hardships. We hope, though, that it will help us all remember that of the few truly terrible choices available to us at this moment in history, the one we’ve made is – by far – the least terrible."

CI:Now is staffed through a community-academic partnership with The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth) School of Public Health in San Antonio.

CI:NOW is a member of the National Neighborhood Indicators Partnership, a collaboration between the Urban Institute and local organizations that connect people with neighborhood data.

Disclosure: Support from CI:NOW helped create and sustain NOWCastSA, and the two organizations have partnered and continue to collaborate on many projects.