Bexar County hit a dubious record on Wednesday with 92 coronavirus-positive patients hospitalized, Mayor Ron Nirenberg said. The previous record for the county was 91 patients hospitalized on April 6.

“We don’t like to see increases in our hospitals,” he said. “But if you look at the indicators as you mentioned, and you look underneath the raw numbers, what you will find is that we’re still in good shape.”

Though the hospitalization rate has been increasing gradually, the doubling rate – meaning the amount of time it takes for the number of new coronavirus cases to double – is 36 days. Earlier in May, the doubling rate was 28 days; both are improvements from the average doubling rate of three days when the coronavirus started spreading in the San Antonio community. Also, the positivity rate of coronavirus tests has declined. Health officials monitor warning and progress indicators in “totality,” said Anita Kurian, assistant director at the San Antonio Metropolitan Health District.

The increased hospitalization numbers “could be multifactorial,” Kurian said. “We haven’t taken a deep dive into it.”

The number of patients hospitalized for COVID-19 serves as a reminder of what the goal with the coronavirus pandemic has been all along: flattening the curve, Kurian said.

“This may be the new normal that we have to expect and learn to accept,” she said. “This COVID-19 is here to stay. It is communitywide. It is endemic here. This may be another infectious disease that we have to learn to live with.”

Bexar County also is one of the top-five most populous counties in Texas with the lowest number of coronavirus cases per capita and lowest number of deaths, Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff said. As of Tuesday, Tarrant County had 144 deaths, Travis County had 85 deaths, Dallas County had 211 deaths, and Harris County had 221 deaths. With one new death reported Wednesday, Bexar County had 70.

“We are doing good,” Wolff said. “But if we move around more – and today, on the South Side I saw traffic was normal as it was before this started … we just have to be careful out there and let’s not take a chance.”

Nirenberg credited the San Antonio area’s lower statistics to “early and aggressive action” to avoid a high peak in hospitalizations and deaths. 

“The work is not over,” he said. “It’s still out there. If we take our eye off the ball, we will see a peak. That’s why we’re reminding folks again to listen to the health guidance … wear masks, maintain your physical distancing.”

The county reported 2,525 total cases of coronavirus on Wednesday, an increase of 45 since Tuesday. Thirty-nine patients are in intensive care and 19 are on ventilators. A man in his 90s with underlying conditions died at the Christus Santa Rosa hospital in the Medical Center, Nirenberg said.

Walk-up testing sites open Thursday at San Antonio College at 1819 N. Main Ave. and Highlands High School at 3118 Elgin Ave. The sites will operate from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Thursday through Saturday and are free and open to the public.

Jackie Wang

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