Local officials reported nearly 1,000 new cases of the coronavirus on Friday, the highest daily increase since July 30 when the pandemic was at its peak in Bexar County.

The 936 coronavirus cases reported Friday brought the seven-day rolling average up from 321 on Thursday to 399 on Friday. On Thursday, a case count of 483 was recorded, which at that point was the highest daily increase since Aug. 2.

At a Friday press briefing local officials put the numbers in context, saying that while there is cause for concern, coronavirus testing has also been ratcheting up.

“The numbers are sounding scary right now,” said Colleen Bridger, the San Antonio Metropolitan Health District’s interim director and assistant city manager. “And I do want people to take this very seriously. This increase in people who are infected with COVID-19 is significant.”

The bulk of the cases reported on Friday were from tests that took place within the past 10 days, Bridger said. Metro Health’s daily reports of new case totals do not typically reflect results of tests from only that day, she said. Coronavirus testing labs can report test results to Metro Health anywhere between a day and two weeks.

During a weeklong period in the middle of July, when a surge in cases threatened to overwhelm local hospital capacity, local labs conducted just over 13,000 coronavirus tests. Last week nearly 32,000 Bexar County residents were tested.

“We are testing more than we have ever tested in the city,” Bridger said. “Even when you look at the peak [in July], we are testing more people today than we tested at the peak. As we test more, we do expect to find more people, and that’s actually a good thing because then we can help those people stop spreading the virus to all of their contacts.”

At about 7 p.m., the City of San Antonio issued an emergency alert to cellphone users in Bexar County. The message urged all residents to limit unnecessary social gatherings and outings and to wear masks.

Mayor Ron Nirenberg – who remained in a 14-day quarantine at his home in light of a possible exposure to the virus, per Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines – said the increase in cases comes at a particularly vulnerable time for the county, as Thanksgiving celebrations could lead to more in-person gatherings and, thus, more transmission.

“Clearly the virus is spreading in our community and we need to respond accordingly,” Nirenberg said. “Please consider spending the holidays only with those who are part of your immediate household. We want to ensure that we have many more family gatherings with loved ones in our future.”

Seven coronavirus-related deaths were reported on Friday, an unusually high number relative to recent months. The deceased, all men, ranged in age from 60 to 99. The local death toll stands at 1,316.

On Friday, 444 COVID-19 patients were receiving treatment at local hospitals, an increase of four from Thursday. Those hospitals admitted 62 patients on Friday compared to 72 on Thursday. Of the more than 440 overall patients, 141 are in intensive care, and 66 are on ventilators.

JJ Velasquez

JJ Velasquez

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