Boys and Girls Clubs of San Antonio’s Calderon Clubhouse opened on Aug. 17 for students in need of supervision and academic support throughout the day.
Boys and Girls Clubs of San Antonio’s Calderon Clubhouse opened on Aug. 17 for students in need of supervision and academic support throughout the day. Credit: Bonnie Arbittier / San Antonio Report

In just two months, the number of novel coronavirus cases in children younger than 18 has doubled, Mayor Ron Nirenberg said Wednesday.

The increase happens as most San Antonio area schools started their fall semesters this past week. Though students logged onto their devices for remote learning, many schools expect to bring some students back after Labor Day. But when students return to campuses, not all schools have plans to publish coronavirus case data.

“I don’t know what the enforcement mechanism would be, but the amended health directive requires all public charter and private schools to report COVID-19 data,” said Golareh Agha, chief of informatics at the San Antonio Metropolitan Health District.

Wolff expressed his concern about schools reopening for in-person instruction. Boerne Independent School District reported its first student case of coronavirus two days after opening schools. After Labor Day, Sept. 7, Metro Health hopes to begin a phased-in approach to in-person schooling should the local outbreak remain under control.

“As we get closer and closer to Sept. 8, which is not that far away, we’re going to have to be extremely careful because of more young people getting it, and more young people are getting in the hospital,” Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff said.

The percentage of children hospitalized for coronavirus has also doubled, Nirenberg said. In mid-June, children made up 1.8 percent of those hospitalized for COVID-19. That number is now 3.7 percent.

“What’s even more concerning to me is that it appears when a young person goes to the hospital … they’re going in without any apparent underlying conditions,” Nirenberg said. “The threat of severe complication is not anything that a parent wants to think about with regard to COVID-19.”

Of the deaths reported Wednesday, one of the people was under the age of 18, according to Nirenberg. He said officials did not have more information on that death yet. Though it is significant, this would not be the first youth coronavirus death – in July, Bexar County recorded its first teenage coronavirus death. In total, the county has seen three deaths among children age 18 and younger, officials said Wednesday.

Metro Health reported 19 new deaths that occurred between July 13 and Aug. 17, 10 of which came from reviewing death certificates provided by the State. A total of 656 Bexar County residents have died from coronavirus since the beginning of the pandemic.

About 65 percent of those who died had at least one underlying condition, Nirenberg said. The most common condition among the fatalities is diabetes, according to a graphic from the City.

Ages and ethnicities of deceased

5 Hispanic women between ages 0 and 89

4 Hispanic men between ages 30 and 89

3 white women between ages 60 and 99

3 women of unknown ethnicity between ages 70 and 99

3 men of unknown ethnicity between ages 30 and 79

1 Black woman in her 80s

“This is important because as you go about your daily activities, you might not know if the person next to you is more vulnerable to the severe effects of COVID-19,” Nirenberg said. “That’s why it’s important to wear your mask, keep your physical distancing – 6 feet away from others at all times. And [it is] a reminder that we all need to do our part to protect each other.”

Bexar County reported 191 new coronavirus cases Wednesday, bringing the total to 44,456. The number of patients hospitalized for coronavirus in Bexar County also continued its slow decline – area hospitals had 546 patients total Wednesday, a decrease of 23 from Tuesday. Of those patients, 247 are in intensive care and 162 are on ventilators.

Jackie Wang covered local government for the San Antonio Report.