Bexar County's COVID-19 death toll is approaching 1,700 fatalities.
Bexar County's COVID-19 death toll is approaching 1,700 fatalities. Credit: Bonnie Arbittier / San Antonio Report

The death toll in Bexar County saw an alarming surge on Wednesday, as officials reported another 25 fatalities, bringing the official count to 1,685. The deaths all occurred during the past 14 days.

The news comes during a week in which Texas crossed the 30,000 threshold for COVID-19-caused deaths. The state’s leading cause of death in 2018 was heart disease, which claimed about 47,000 lives that year. Considering the first deaths to COVID-19 in Texas were reported in March, a death toll that covers a 12-month period from then would likely come close to matching that figure.

A moment of silence was held on Wednesday during the city’s nightly COVID-19 briefing to mourn those who have died from the disease. Unfortunately, the surge in deaths is likely to continue, officials said, as hospitals continue to see an overwhelming number of patients infected with the coronavirus.

“We would expect with the number of hospitalizations that we’ve had over the last several weeks that we would start seeing some of the deaths occurring,” said Rita Espinoza, the San Antonio Metropolitan Health District’s chief of epidemiology.

Close to 200 additional deaths have been reported to the Texas Department of State Health Services and are under Metro Health investigation to confirm a positive COVID-19 diagnosis and residence in Bexar County. According to the tally on DSHS’s website, Bexar County has thus far lost 1,912 lives to COVID-19 while Metro Health’s official toll stands at 1,685.

The 25 deaths included white, Hispanic, Asian, and Black men and women ranging in age from 40 to 99. Many of them were residents of long-term care facilities, such as nursing homes.

Espinoza said the timeline of their deaths is consistent with possible infection during the holiday period.

“I think, intuitively, we know there’s been a lot more activity over the holidays, a lot more interaction among people, family, and friends,” Mayor Ron Nirenberg said. “It stands to reason” that holiday gatherings played a role.

With 1,378 new cases of coronavirus reported on Wednesday, the seven-day moving average has declined from a pandemic high of 1,791 to 1,688.

We’ve added a new statistic to the data we’re providing on The Curve every weekday. You’ll notice the total number of vaccinations administered in Bexar County alongside the usual metrics you’ve come to expect. It does come from a different source (DSHS) than the rest of the data, and there is a lag of about two days between when vaccines are administered and when the state’s database is updated.

Here are the local coronavirus numbers as of 7 p.m. Wednesday:

  • 138,785 total cases, 1,378 new cases
  • 1,685 deaths, 25 new deaths
  • 1,411 in hospital, 12% beds available
  • 393 patients in intensive care
  • 237 patients on ventilators, 51% ventilators available
  • 59,782 residents vaccinated (at least one dose)

JJ Velasquez was a columnist, former editor and reporter at the San Antonio Report.