With a declining case rate and a smaller percentage of people testing positive for the coronavirus, the city has downgraded the local COVID-19 risk level from severe to moderate.

For the first time in almost eight weeks, San Antonio’s positivity rate is back into the single digits, down from 10.6% last week to 7.6% this week, Mayor Ron Nirenberg said during a Tuesday briefing. The local case rate has also decreased significantly since last week, from 61 to 51.2 cases per 100,000 residents, Nirenberg said.

While a lot of the city’s progress indicators are “moving in the right direction,” many people are still going to the hospital each day, Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff said.

In the past 24 hours, there have been an additional 176 COVID-19-related admissions, bringing the total number of hospitalized COVID-19 patients to 1,215. Eighty-three percent of the patients are unvaccinated, according to the latest Metropolitan Health District data. While no new deaths were reported Tuesday, 53 backlogged deaths from between Feb. 15 through Aug. 22 have been added to the local total, which is now at 3,994.

Nirenberg stressed that the move from severe to moderate doesn’t mean San Antonio is in the clear. San Antonio hospitals continue to be overloaded, he said.

“We’re not out of the woods by any means,” Nirenberg said.

Schools remain heavily affected by COVID-19, Wolff said. Although Texas reported the fewest COVID-19 hospitalizations in two weeks Tuesday, pediatric cases across the state are up following the reopening of schools, Wolff said. Locally,19 children are hospitalized with COVID-19, according to Metro Health data.

Schools have been a primary concern over the past several weeks, and that’s why city and county leaders have pushed for school districts to allow mask mandates, Nirenberg said.

“If [schools] can’t have the required number of staff due to quarantine or too many students are out, they will not be able to conduct class at all,” Nirenberg said. “And when that begins to happen, you have a cascading impact on pretty much every business in this community and the economy overall.”

The city is currently working to put together data that is complementary to state data regarding the number of staff and student cases in each school district and more info about local pediatric cases, said Metro Health Medical Director Dr. Junda Woo.

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Lindsey Carnett

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