This article has been updated.
With 795 new coronavirus cases reported Saturday, San Antonio recorded its highest daily count of new cases since the start of the novel coronavirus pandemic, the City announced Saturday evening.
Including Saturday’s new cases, the total of cases in Bexar County is now at 9,652. The death toll reached 107, with two new deaths Saturday. There are currently 730 coronavirus patients hospitalized, 219 of whom are in intensive care, and 112 are on ventilators.
Shortly after 7 p.m. San Antonio residents received an Emergency Alert on their smartphones from the San Antonio Office of Emergency Management suggesting residents stay home because the virus is spreading rapidly across the county.
“Local hospitals are approaching capacity,” the text alert stated. “Protect yourself and your family. Stay home except for essential activities, wear a face covering and avoid gathering with people outside your household. STAY SAFE.”
The alert linked residents to the City’s COVID-19 webpage for more information.
Putting out a Wireless Emergency Alert (WEA) action is reserved only for emergencies, and the City has clearly reached emergency status, said Mayor Ron Nirenberg.
“We need every person in San Antonio and Bexar County to take this crisis seriously and behave accordingly to slow the exponential growth of the virus,” Nirenberg said in an official statement.
Following the alert, residents took to Twitter to express concerns regarding the new numbers and questioning if the alert was a new stay-at-home order. A spokesman for Nirenberg said the alert is not a new stay-at-home order, but a suggestion.
Nirenberg posted a video response to the record-breaking news on Twitter and Facebook, also shortly after 7 p.m. In the video, Nirenberg repeats the warning that the City’s hospitals are nearing capacity and said prolonged face-to-face contact with people outside of our households is how the virus is spreading.
“Folks are throwing house parties and holding extensive social gatherings with neighbors, friends and extended family. The spread of this virus isn’t because of any one thing, so it’s incumbent upon all of us to patronize businesses responsibly.”
He suggested virtual happy hours or online get-togethers with people outside of the household and asked residents to remain vigilant to contain the spread of COVID-19.
“Wear your mask, practice physical distancing, wash your hands,” he said. “The simplest of measures could have the greatest impact on our ability to contain the spread of this disease. Stay Strong, San Antonio. We’re going to get through this together.”
Last week, Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff issued a new executive order that mandates face coverings for the general public and directs businesses to require employees and customers to wear them in situations where social distancing is not feasible. Failure to implement a policy could result in a fine up to $1,000, according to the order.
Saturday’s record numbers come just two days after San Antonio Metropolitan Health District Director Dawn Emerick announced her resignation and the day after Gov. Greg Abbott shut bars back down and capped restaurant capacity at 50 percent.
Colleen Bridger, who was Metro Health director before being promoted to assistant city manager, will serve as interim director until a replacement is hired. In May, Bridger announced that she would leave her City job July 17 to work as a private consultant, but has agreed to stay on longer if necessary.
Abbot’s order also shut down river-rafting trips and banned outdoor gatherings of over 100 people unless local officials approve. In addition to Abbott’s orders, local officials are prohibiting gatherings of more than 10 people in parks or plazas, and they are postponing the reopening of pools and splash pads, which were set to reopen on July 3.