The Bexar County Adult Detention Center contributed most of the new coronavirus cases reported Wednesday, Mayor Ron Nirenberg said.
Bexar County added 84 positive test results to its case count, bringing the total to 1,761. Only 30 of the cases reported Wednesday came from the community; the other 54 were from the jail.
Sixty COVID-19 patients are in the hospital. Of those, 34 are in intensive care and 21 are on ventilators. One person died – a man in his 60s, bringing Bexar County’s total to 53, Nirenberg said. No other information about him was provided.
Sheriff Javier Salazar said he was not surprised by the high number of COVID-19 cases among inmates or the initial spike in positive results at the jail. The sheriff’s office began mass testing inmates and detention deputies in mid-April.
“We knew [the number of positive COVID-19 cases] was going to go up quickly at the beginning because we front-loaded – we tested what we consider to be hotspots,” Salazar explained. “And so while our numbers the first couple of days were going up really, really quick, it’s starting to level off.”
The sheriff’s office reported Wednesday that one more inmate and two more detention deputies had tested positive for coronavirus. To date, 301 inmates and 62 detention deputies have had COVID-19. The jail’s numbers on the City’s COVID-19 website are incomplete due to reporting delays between the sheriff’s office and Metro Health.
Dr. Bryan Alsip, the chief medical officer for University Health System, said UHS continues to do all of the testing and contact tracing in the jail. He stressed that testing inmates serves as a “point-in-time” collection, as new inmates are booked into and inmates are released from the jail every day.
“We have to look down the road as to what needs to be done, because that will change the next day,” Alsip said. “What’s really important is, what are the systems that are in place now that will help manage the situation going forward? … [It’s] the screenings, the sanitation, the hygiene, the masking, making sure folks who are not coming in who are ill, all those things.”
Salazar said the jail continues to provide masks to inmates, estimating that his office has about 180,000 masks on-hand. He said the jail has not considered making hand sanitizer available to inmates; alcohol-based sanitizer is considered contraband.
“Good hand-washing is the way to go,” he said. “And we’ve doubled our soap rations to the inmates to two bars a week versus one bar a week. And then after that it’s on demand, so if you go through your two bars, just ask for more.”
The San Antonio Metropolitan Health District and San Antonio Fire Department have added two pop-up coronavirus testing sites to Bexar County’s inventory, Nirenberg said. One is at Las Palmas Library at 515 Castroville Road and the other is at Woodlawn Lake Park at 1103 Cincinnati Ave. Both are free and open to the public, do not require appointments, and will test asymptomatic residents, Nirenberg said. Both locations will be open Thursday, Friday, and Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
The testing sites help fulfill one of the recommendations from the COVID-19 Health Transition Team, which called for Bexar County testing efforts to reach 3,000 people a day, Nirenberg said. Currently, about 1,300 people a day are tested in Bexar County.
“The trouble right now for us in terms of testing is not the capacity, it’s driving the demand.” he said. “And so … we’re focusing testing sites where the health transition team saw that we needed more access.”
Metro Health continues to track cases in congregate settings at nursing homes and other long-term care facilities, Nirenberg said. In addition to a localized outbreak at Southeast Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, cases have been reported at Advanced Rehabilitation and Healthcare at Live Oak, San Antonio Behavioral Hospital, Buena Vida Nursing and Rehabilitation, Rio at Mission Trails, Pecan Valley Rehabilitation and Healthcare, and Legend Oaks Healthcare and Rehabilitation – West San Antonio, he said. Nirenberg did not specify how many cases have been found at each facility.