Bexar County’s coronavirus cases surpassed 800 Tuesday as Assistant City Manager Colleen Bridger revealed that four models for the local course of the coronavirus pandemic show the local caseload could peak sometime between late April and mid-May.

City officials reported a total of 815 positive cases of coronavirus Tuesday, an increase of 21 cases from the previous day, but no additional deaths.

Bridger, who joined Mayor Ron Nirenberg and Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff at their daily coronavirus briefing, said the City will publish models Wednesday predicting future coronavirus cases based on localized data. Of the four models to be published on the City’s COVID-19 website, two are from the University of Texas at San Antonio, one is from consulting firm Oliver Wyman, and the fourth is from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington.

Bridger cautioned that the models would show only a range of projections that could change as researchers collect more data; the true peak could happen a few weeks outside of either end of the estimated range.

“Just like when we’re looking at hurricane maps, it may wobble a little bit to the east or a little bit to the west,” Bridger said of the models.

The estimated total number of cases ranges from 1,100 to more than 10,000 in the San Antonio area, according to the models. That gap will hopefully narrow when researchers receive more data, she said.

Nirenberg estimated that around 11,000 tests had been administered to date in Bexar County at the Freeman Coliseum testing site and private labs. There are 89 coronavirus patients in hospitals, 54 of whom are in intensive care and 38 of whom are on ventilators. 

At the Bexar County Adult Detention Center, a total of eight inmates have now tested positive, Wolff said.

“We are beginning to see the spread of [coronavirus at] the jail and I don’t think it’s going to stop where it is,” he said. “So we’re constantly stepping up to trying to do more to stem this tide of COVID cases within the jail.”

Jail units where people have tested positive are being isolated, and the sheriff’s office is identifying high-risk individuals and those who may have been exposed to the coronavirus. The judge added that all symptomatic individuals should be able to be tested by Thursday. 

Jails in other major counties in Texas have higher numbers of inmates with COVID-19, Wolff said. More than 30 inmates in Dallas County and 49 inmates at Harris County Jail have tested positive. There are also 1,758 inmates in Harris County under observational quarantine, the Houston Chronicle reported Tuesday.

“While our numbers are low, we expect to continue to have issues in jail, and we’re taking all the steps that we can reasonably take with respect to security,” Wolff said.

Meanwhile, no new COVID-19 cases have surfaced in nursing homes, Nirenberg said. However, the Westover Hills Rehabilitation and Healthcare center removed itself as an option to house nursing home residents in the San Antonio area who test positive for coronavirus.

“Just as the two nursing home management companies selected themselves, one of them selected to pull out because of the intense scrutiny and, frankly, political backlash that had been occurring over there in this process,” Nirenberg said. “We were notified late yesterday that that had taken place and we’ll see what happens” with the River City Care Center, the other facility that was slated to accept nursing home residents who require isolation.

Though Nirenberg said he had been informed the Westover Hills nursing center had moved all of its residents to another facility to make room for potential coronavirus patients, he found out on Monday that only one wing at Westover Hills was empty. The City and County are not directing the operation of nursing home management companies, he said. 

City officials do not know if another facility will be chosen to house nursing home residents who have contracted COVID-19, Bridger said.

“It’s entirely up to them,” she said. “This was a decision made by private companies about how they wanted to best care for their patients. They let us know their plans. And so, if we’re having future conversations about that between private companies, we would like to know about that.”

Jackie Wang

Jackie Wang is the local government reporter at the San Antonio Report.