San Antonio is seeing about 69 cases of the coronavirus for every 100,000 residents, as the delta surge has renewed demand for COVID-19 testing in the area.

The continued increase in cases can be attributed to an expansion of testing locally, Mayor Ron Nirenberg said Tuesday during a COVID-19 briefing.

“As noted, with more testing we’re finding more infections faster,” Nirenberg said. “These factors combined with the higher stress score on our hospital system and the other indicators on the region means that we’re continuing to be in the severe risk category,” he said, referencing the city dashboard that indicates how much capacity local hospitals have.

With schools back in session, Community Labs is once again expanding its reach within San Antonio, and possibly soon outside the city.

The San Antonio-based nonprofit told the San Antonio Report that although it’s not currently planning to reopen any of its closed testing sites in the midst of the delta wave, Community Labs is working with more local school districts than ever before. 

With San Antonio’s positivity rate at 13.6%, Community Labs President Sal Webber said the nonprofit is busier than it was in the spring. 

“The delta variant has definitely shown up for us as we’re coming back to school,” Webber said. “We’re seeing about twice the positivity rate that we saw last spring. The business side has ramped up; the school side has ramped up.”

Metro Health Medical Director Dr. Junda Woo said Metro Health is still operating 13 free testing sites concentrated “in areas of highest inequity” and said testing needs are different now compared to last year.

Woo said she expects to see a continued rise in school testing, however, as children head back into the classroom, some for the first time in more than a year. 

This growth may lead Community Labs to work with districts outside of San Antonio as well, Webber said.

“We’ve had districts outside of Bexar County calling us, so we’re talking with officials in several different counties,” Webber said. He said they hope to announce their expansion beyond San Antonio soon. 

An increase in cases has not been directly tied to students heading back to school, said Claude Jacob, director of the San Antonio Metropolitan Health District. Jacob said the increase in testing is due to a high local positivity rate.

On Tuesday, the local COVID-19 death toll rose by 41, but a vast majority are from backlogged deaths, city officials said Tuesday. Nirenberg said five new deaths have been reported in the past 24 hours. More than 3,770 Bexar County residents have died from COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic.

Local hospitals are treating 1,418 people for COVID-19, 140 of which have been admitted since Monday, Nirenberg said. Almost 90% of those patients are unvaccinated, he said. The city has asked for 2,000 additional health care workers from the Southwest Texas Regional Advisory Council to handle the surge and has so far received 600, Nirenberg said.

Lindsey Carnett covers the environment, science and utilities for the San Antonio Report. A native San Antonian, she graduated from Texas A&M University in 2016 with a degree in telecommunication media...