Nine more people have died in Bexar County due to COVID-19, bringing the total number of local deaths to 175, officials reported Saturday.

With an additional 535 positive cases of the coronavirus reported, the area’s total increased to 19,137.

Despite a slight decrease in hospitalizations – 19 fewer – and patients in intensive care – 15 fewer – from Friday, health officials maintained the “high” stress score for area hospital capacity.

The Southwest Texas Regional Advisory Council (STRAC) changed the calculation for the stress score to factor in space available in emergency rooms and ICUs as well as staff loss and other factors, according to a spokesman for the mayor. STRAC, a network of hospitals and first responders who maintain the regional trauma and emergency health care system for San Antonio and nearby counties, is managing the local response to the coronavirus.

On Saturday, 1,221 patients were hospitalized, with 401 in ICUs and 249 on ventilators. Just 11 percent of staffed beds remain available, a 1 percent increase from Friday.

All nine of the recently deceased people had underlying medical conditions, which could range from high blood pressure to an autoimmune disease. Of the six men and three women, three were in their 40s, four in their 60s, one in their 80s, and one in their 90s, according to the mayor’s spokesman.

Officials determined postmortem that the death of one of those people, a woman in her 60s who died at home, was related to COVID-19.

To help officials track and contain the disease’s spread, Mayor Ron Nirenberg urged people who have tested positive to help San Antonio Metropolitan Health find out more about whom they might have come into contact with.

“Thousands of cases remain under investigation,” he stated on Facebook. “If you test positive for COVID-19 and you receive a call from a 210-207 number, or the caller ID says SA Health Dept, please answer. We are calling you so we can help identify and locate anyone that you might have unknowingly exposed. It’s one of the best tools we have to slow the spread.”

As of 3 p.m. on Saturday, the City had received 29 calls for emergency enforcement of the statewide face-covering order that went into effect last week

Two citations have been issued so far: the Highlanders Bar and Grill at 5562 Fredericksburg Rd. received a citation, as did the owner for not wearing a mask.

“We cannot let up now,” Nirenberg wrote. “Please be safe this weekend, San Antonio. You just might save someone’s life. Wear a mask. Wash your hands. Practice physical distancing. If you have no need to travel to a public space, don’t.”

Iris Dimmick

Senior Reporter Iris Dimmick covers public policy pertaining to social issues, ranging from affordable housing and economic disparity to policing reform and workforce development. Contact her at iris@sareport.org