Though Bexar County continues to see new coronavirus cases each day, Mayor Ron Nirenberg said Monday that the county hit another milestone in recoveries.

“We are tracking the curve of this infection and clearly we are now on the downslope of … the initial wave of this virus, and tonight we’re proud to report a new milestone, which is that our recoveries are now over 60 percent of all confirmed cases,” Nirenberg said.

Bexar County reported nine new cases of coronavirus Monday, bringing the total to 2,839. Of the 93 patients currently in area hospitals for COVID-19, 39 are in intensive care and 20 are on ventilators. 

Another person has died from the coronavirus, Nirenberg said. A man in his 80s died at Mission Trail Baptist Hospital; he had been a resident of the Rio at Mission Trails nursing home. He is the second resident who has died at that nursing home; 25 residents and 13 staff members from Rio at Mission Trails have tested positive so far.

Of the now 75 deaths in connection with the coronavirus outbreak in Bexar County, about a third have lived or worked at area nursing homes.

Assistant City Manager Lori Houston joined Nirenberg and Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff for their daily media briefing Monday to remind San Antonio residents of the City’s emergency housing assistance program

“We know that many people are struggling with how to make their next rent payment or mortgage payment,” she said. 

“If you live in San Antonio and are unable to make your payment or your rent or mortgage because you lost your job, your hours were decreased, or you’ve had an unexpected expense that kept you from making your rent or mortgage payment, please contact the city of San Antonio’s emergency housing assistance program. We can help make that payment for you.”

People who live in San Antonio must make below the area median income of $50,400 for a single person or $72,000 for a family of four to qualify, Houston said. City staff will ask for more details about the financial hardship residents face in order to determine if they can use the emergency assistance program.

Those who don’t live in San Antonio can turn to the Bexar County emergency rental assistance program. Unlike the city program, the County will not help pay mortgage bills, Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff said. The County’s program originally only had $4 million allocated to it, but was able to boost its coffers with federal dollars.

Nirenberg also said Monday that he was concerned about the potential for coronavirus spread following weekend protests in honor of George Floyd, a black man who died after a white police officer knelt on his neck in Minnesota last Monday. Coronavirus testing for everyone interested remains available in Bexar County, he said.

“It doesn’t matter if you’re exercising your free speech rights or not – there is still a virus there and we need to continue to listen to the health guidance,” he said. “We certainly want people to [protest] the right way, and in a pandemic, it means wearing a mask if you’re within six feet of someone.”

The City decided to close Alamo Plaza from 7 p.m. Monday to 6 a.m. Tuesday as a precaution against potentially more unrest. The street will be blocked off and police will be monitoring the area, Houston said.

“Obviously the Alamo is a public place,” Nirenberg said. “It’s a civic gathering point and it will remain that way during the day, always. We saw the other night that it was a hotspot, rally point for the unrest when the sun went down, and that’s really what we’re trying to prevent: mischief to occur after hours.”

Nirenberg lauded San Antonians who volunteered their time to help clean up parts of downtown Sunday morning. 

“It was a wonderful thing to see,” he said. “In fact, I got a little emotional, seeing the scenes of people coming downtown yesterday, neighbors coming to help out our business owners who have been affected to clean up. It’s something that we’re so used to seeing in San Antonio.”

Jackie Wang

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