Children ages 18 and younger now make up 11.2 percent of local coronavirus cases, a new high in Bexar County, local officials reported Monday.

In light of the largest single-day increase of new coronavirus cases on Sunday, officials are warning the public that children are not immune to COVID-19 and still must observe precautionary measures such as social distancing, hand-washing, and mask-wearing.

Bexar County added 481 new cases Monday, bringing the total number of local cases to 31,316. Five more deaths reported Monday brought the county total to 262 since the start of the pandemic. 

The area maintains its “critical to severe” risk level, according to the San Antonio Metropolitan Health District’s assessment of several indicators such as the positive test rate and hospital system stress.

Age range and ethnic/racial backgrounds of Bexar County residents reported dead Monday
  • Two Hispanic women – ages 50-59 and 60-69
  • Three Hispanic men – ages 30-39, 60-69, and 90-99

The number of hospitalized individuals is still high at 1,193, he added. More than a third of those patients, 430, are currently in the intensive care unit, and 294 are on ventilators. Eleven percent of hospital beds remain available along with 49 percent of ventilators, Nirenberg said.

“Our doubling rate has stayed the same at 16 days, which is well below our target, and that means we’re still seeing exponential community spread of COVID-19,” he said. “Overall, our hospital system remains under severe stress.”

Over the course of the pandemic, Bexar County has recorded four deaths of people in their 20s and two deaths of children, Nirenberg said. Residents within the 20-to-29 age range still represent the demographic with the most cases, he said.

With cases among children on the rise, Wolff reiterated the need for the local order issued Friday to bar local schools from in-person instruction in Bexar County until Labor Day. 

“It does happen to young people, and it can transmit – particularly among teenagers,” he said. “Hopefully by Sept. 7, things will get better; but it does happen to young people, and they need to understand that.”

The percentage of child cases has been on the rise since May, Kurian said. On May 31, children accounted for only 4.6 percent of cases. As of Friday, children represent 11.2 percent of all local cases, she said. The ages of pediatric patients are not being released, she added, although she mentioned the youngest has been an infant and the oldest has been 17. 

Hospitalizations of pediatric patients have also been rising, Nirenberg said. 

“Kids are at risk of getting this infection, and that’s what we’re seeing when the community-wide transmission is happening,” Kurian said.

Nirenberg urged community members to continue to socially distance from each other, to wear a mask in public, and to continue basic measures such as hand washing.

“We all need to do our part to predict the health and safety of all,” he said.

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Lindsey Carnett

Lindsey Carnett covers the environment, science and utilities for the San Antonio Report.