Bexar County saw the highest number of COVID-19 related deaths within a 24-hour period Thursday, with 15 people dead ranging in age from 40 to 89, bringing the total to 298. 

As the number of new coronavirus cases has gone up, the severity of symptoms for those hospitalized has also, Mayor Ron Nirenberg said at a Thursday briefing. 

One in four people admitted to intensive care at area hospitals are now deceased, and 40 percent of people on ventilators for symptoms of COVID-19 have died, he said. 

Currently, 1,074 people are hospitalized, which accounts for 32 percent of people currently admitted to area hospitals, and of those 437 are in intensive care and 287 are on ventilators, Nirenberg said. The hospital system remains under severe stress despite a downward trend in COVID-19-related hospital admissions. 

Ages and ethnic backgrounds of deceased
  • 7 Hispanic men ranging in age from 60 to 89
  • 5 Hispanic women ranging in age from 40 to 79
  • 2 white women ranging in age from 40 to 59
  • 1 white man in his 60s

The outcome for people admitted to area hospitals for symptoms of COVID-19 largely depends on their health and age, because those factors affect their ability to respond to the infection, said Dr. Ian Thompson, CEO of Christus Santa Rosa Hospital-Medical Center. “You have to be pretty sick to begin with” to be admitted, and if you get transferred to intensive care, the length of stay can last 70 days.” 

The Bexar County Adult Detention Center also is under severe stress, Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff said. Currently 47 guards and 27 civilian employees are out due to testing positive for coronavirus, and the population continues to increase. 

With 3,665 inmates currently, the jail is running out of room to isolate sick inmates and keep others at a safe social distance, and maintain oversight by jail staff. 

“When the population was very high like this early on, we had a lot of cases that we worked hard” at remedying with testing and providing personal protective equipment, Wolff said, and numbers trending up won’t make it easy to keep people safe. 

With 1,078 new coronavirus cases in Bexar County on Thursday, the total count reached 34,633.

An increase in testing has also made it difficult for local labs to process tests, so results are taking up to 10 days to get back to the person, Wolf said, with labs struggling to process around 30,000 tests a day, including ones they process for facilities outside of Bexar County. 

Free coronavirus testing sites run by the City are still accepting only people with symptoms, but those without symptoms can get testing from a primary care doctor. 

Nirenberg is encouraging those who have recovered from COVID-19 to donate plasma to the South Texas Blood and Tissue Center to be used for hospitalized patients in need of antibodies to help fight the virus. 

“Every city is struggling and at roughly the same point we are,” Nirenberg said. “We’ve still got a way to go to get out of this, and it’s no time to let your guard down.”

Roseanna Garza

Roseanna Garza reports on health and bioscience for the San Antonio Report.