Bexar County has become the third county in Texas with 50,000 coronavirus cases, as the local health authority reported 101 more cases of the virus on Monday.

With the increase, the overall caseload has grown to 50,016. But the local outbreak has slowed in recent weeks, and health authorities have declared the county’s COVID-19 risk level as safe. On Monday, the seven-day average of new coronavirus cases fell to 128, the lowest number Bexar County has seen since June 12.

But the metric health officials are tracking even more closely is the positivity rate. The rate of infection among residents tested for the coronavirus peaked above 20 percent when the outbreak was at its worst in July. About one in four Bexar County residents was testing positive.

On Monday the positivity rate fell but not to the rate local officials had hoped for. The positivity rate declined from 6.7 percent last week to 6 percent on Monday. That is one percentage point higher than the prescribed 5 percent rate to reopen school campuses in accordance with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines.

As of this week, the county remains in the San Antonio Metropolitan Health District’s yellow-zone protocols, which call for classroom capacity to be capped at 25 percent and no more than six students to a pod. Also, schools are to prioritize students with special needs, those who are at risk, and those without home internet connections.

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On Monday, Pedro Martinez, superintendent of San Antonio Independent School District, outlined the district’s reopening plan, which calls for 10 percent of SAISD’s students to return starting on Monday, Sept. 21. If the positivity rate falls to 5 percent or less next week, the district will permit another 10 percent of the student body to study in person beginning on Oct. 5.

Bexar County reported no new deaths on Monday as the death toll remained at 1,016. With the Texas Department of State Health Services reporting a death toll in Bexar County of 1,205, Metro Health is investigating 188 additional fatalities to verify county residency and a positive coronavirus diagnosis.

Area hospitals are treating 248 COVID-19 patients, with 105 in intensive care and 51 on ventilators. Hospital bed and ventilator capacities stand at 16 percent and 68 percent, respectively.

JJ Velasquez

JJ Velasquez

JJ Velasquez is the San Antonio Report's audience engagement editor.