Bexar County’s coronavirus case count reached 1,307 with 32 new cases reported, Mayor Ron Nirenberg said Tuesday.
The number of people who have recovered from COVID-19 also continues to rise, with 574 people considered completely recovered from the disease, Nirenberg said. There were no new deaths to report Tuesday, while the number hospitalized dipped slightly from 59 Monday to 56 Tuesday. Of those, 33 people are in intensive care, including 16 on ventilators.
The Bexar County Adult Detention Center reported two new cases of coronavirus in inmates Tuesday, bringing that total up to 64 inmates, Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff said. Roughly 1,150 inmates are separated from the rest of the jail population to prevent further contagion.
Dr. Barbara Taylor, associate professor of infectious diseases at UT Health San Antonio who leads the City’s COVID-19 Health Transition Team, joined Nirenberg and Wolff at their daily media briefing Tuesday. Although the number of new cases confirmed each day in Bexar County appears to be decreasing, she hesitated to identify a “peak” in the local fight against the disease.
“It looks like our cases may be decreasing over the last little bit, though obviously we have an issue with the jail,” Taylor said. “So it looks like we are headed in the right direction. I don’t think you’re going to get a health professional of any kind saying, ‘Yay we’re done!’ We are not done. … But I am optimistic that we are definitely moving in the right direction.”
Though the trend of lower numbers of new cases is evidence that social distancing and stay-home orders work, Nirenberg cautioned residents that a “peak” is only the midway point of the pandemic.
“If you are pushing hard and doing the distancing and following the health guidance, you continue to trend in the right direction,” he said. “What we don’t know is if you take your foot off the gas, what happens? That’s why we have to be mindful of the data and hospitalizations and so forth.”
Tuesday also marked the first City Council and Bexar County commissioners joint meeting in decades and the first-ever held via videoconference. At the meeting, the COVID-19 Health Transition Team presented their findings and recommendations on how to open San Antonio in a safe way.
Dawn Emerick, director of the San Antonio Metropolitan Health District, said not only was expanding access to testing in Bexar County crucial, but also making sure those who have underlying health conditions like hypertension and diabetes are targeted for testing.
“We know, and it’s very clearly written in the transition plan, that there are several segments of vulnerable populations,” Emerick said. “[People with] hypertension and diabetes unfortunately are not only … contracting COVID-19, but we’re seeing high rates of death with that comorbidity.”
Taylor added that the transition team’s guidance comes with an “equity lens,” taking in consideration residents who may not have health insurance or food security,
“We know San Antonio has large health disparities, of people with different income, communities of color, so throughout the plan we do try to call out measures that need to be taken to ensure no one is left behind in the COVID-19 response,” she said.
Wolff said that he and Nirenberg are both consulting their lawyers as to how they can structure stay-at-home order extensions. The current stay-at-home order expires Thursday, April 30. Nirenberg said the local orders would attempt to “fill in the gaps” left by the governor’s executive order issued Monday.
“We’re very clear that one of the essential components of opening in a safe manner is going to be mask-wearing, so that’s going to continue to be a feature in our orders,” Nirenberg said.