A mask lies discarded in the street.
A mask lies discarded in the street. Credit: Bonnie Arbittier / San Antonio Report

Nine new coronavirus-related deaths were reported in Bexar County on Wednesday. Among them were men in their 20s, 30s, and 40s.

It was the first time the county recorded a COVID-19 death in the 20-to-29 age range, but the deceased spanned several generations with the oldest between 90 to 99 years of age. All who died had underlying health conditions. 

“It’s all unnecessary,” Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff said of the 845-case increase and nine deaths. “If you have underlying health conditions, it doesn’t matter what age you are. You are going to end up in the hospital” if you contract the virus. 

The death toll stood at 146, and the total number of coronavirus cases in Bexar County grew to 16,725. More than 1,200 patients are hospitalized with COVID-19 symptoms. Of those, 399 are in intensive care, and 232 are on ventilators. 

The local patient count declined Wednesday for the first time in more than a month, as 30 fewer patients were receiving treatment in area hospitals.

However, with 11 more people on ventilators, less than half of the county’s supply remains available. The number of people in intensive care increased by 10 people, and hospital bed capacity stood at 11 percent. 

Most COVID-19 patients admitted to area hospitals are treated for cough, shortness of breath, and fever, and have difficulty maintaining their oxygen levels, said Dr. Paul Hancock, chief medical officer with Methodist Healthcare. And the only ways to treat them, he said, are with the antiviral drug Remdesivir, plasma from people who have recovered from the novel coronavirus, and the steroid dexamethasone, which is used to treat inflammation. 

Regardless of available and expanding treatments, Nirenberg said that until a vaccine is developed, people need to keep in mind that “this virus is still very dangerous.”

“There’s a tremendous amount of community spread happening,” Nirenberg said. “So, we need to all do our part and wear our face masks.”

The San Antonio Metropolitan Health District is also trying to slow the spread of coronavirus through its contact tracing and case investigation efforts, which Assistant Director Jennifer Herriott said has been “a challenging experience.”

Because of the consistent increase in cases, it has been difficult for Metro Health to contact everyone who tested positive, monitor their symptoms, and recommend self-isolation to those with whom they were in close contact, Herriott said.

Because coronavirus positives and hospitalizations have risen and fallen so much in recent days, “it’s difficult to look at this data and … anticipate where we are going to be in a month,” Nirenberg said, urging residents to get used to wearing masks and social distancing. 

“We had this thing almost to a flatline in April, and we opened up businesses and let our guard down,” he said. “It’s not time to let up in any respect, for the next year.”

Roseanna Garza

Roseanna Garza

Roseanna Garza reports on health and bioscience for the San Antonio Report.