The number of positive coronavirus cases increased Friday to 342, an increase of 88 cases from Thursday’s report. No new deaths were reported, according to local officials.
A nursing home outbreak is now at 75 positive cases, with 67 infected residents at the Southeast Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, and eight positive tests from employees of the facility.
Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff said that San Antonio has 68 nursing homes, and 74 nursing homes are operating in the outlying areas of Bexar County, and between them all, there are nearly 14,000 area elderly residents residing in them.
“We have been stepping up enforcement of [area nursing homes] in light of this outbreak” to make sure safety and sanitary regulations are being followed, Wolff said. In addition, people who work at a nursing home in San Antonio can no longer work in more than one such facility at a time.
The change in nursing home regulations is one of several included in an addendum made to the City’s most recent public health emergency declaration. As of Friday, the following sites were mandated closed: all community and school playgrounds, tennis courts, golf courses, skate plazas, splash pads, and all other “recreational areas where social distancing and sanitizing requirements are difficult or impossible to meet.”
Mayor Ron Nirenberg said the change was made because “ball courts and golf courses were violating social distancing,” which can contribute to community spread.
“We all need to do what we can to get through these few weeks to make sure we are not having more and more transfer in our community,” Nirenberg said. “We know it’s hard to be isolated physically, but we are all in this together to keep ourselves healthy and to stay alive.”
Of the 342 confirmed cases, 93 were travel-related, and 93 were spread by community transmission, Nirenberg said. Forty-seven cases are still under investigation.
Assistant City Manager Colleen Bridger told the Rivard Report on Friday that in an effort to increase testing availability, the San Antonio Metropolitan Health District relaxed coronavirus testing criteria. Starting immediately, people seeking a test in Bexar County no longer need a doctor’s note to be tested at a drive-up testing site at Freeman Coliseum, Bridger said.
“We went with the least restrictive testing criteria that we could,” Bridger said, noting a newly developed online screening tool developed by Metro Health will help people more quickly be approved for testing.
As testing increases throughout Bexar County, local organizations are stepping up to help as the pandemic continues to impact more than just those who are infected with the novel coronavirus.
The YMCA of Greater San Antonio has set up emergency care sites across the city, including places such as Morgan’s Wonderland and Journey Fellowship Church, to provide child care services to essential workers such as H-E-B employees and health care workers.
The YMCA’s emergency child care accepts all school-age children, as well as infants and toddlers in some of its existing child care sites.
While essential workers will continue to go to work, Nirenberg said that the City has started issuing violations to workplaces remaining open that violate social distancing recommendations and occupancy regulations.
Some businesses that have already been warned or issued violations continue to violate the measures put in place to slow the spread of coronavirus locally, Nirenberg said.
“If we issue a violation and [a business] continues to violate, certificates of occupancy will be revoked and we will close the business,” he said. “We will shut you down.”