The San Antonio Metropolitan Health District announced a large decline in the number of people hospitalized because of coronavirus in Bexar County. As of Saturday night, 874 people remained in the hospital, a decrease of 52 from the previous day.

The number of patients in intensive care also saw a decrease, with local health officials reporting 352 people in ICU, down 12 from the previous day, and 244 on ventilators, down eight from Friday.

Metro Health reported 374 new coronavirus cases Saturday and three new deaths, bringing the death toll to 352 people.

As the number of new confirmed cases and hospitalizations trend downward, Mayor Ron Nirenberg cautioned residents to remain careful.

“Though today’s numbers are encouraging, the 7-day moving average of recorded cases is still over 700 per day. We continue to lose neighbors to this disease on a daily basis. As the trends move in the right direction, we must remain vigilant to accelerate the downward trend in hospitalizations and recorded cases.”

This pattern of declining hospitalizations and new cases comes on the heels of San Antonio’s worst month since the area began tracking the spread of coronavirus.

More than 70 percent of Bexar County’s 40,000 coronavirus cases came in July. There were eight days in July where the area recorded more than 1,000 new coronavirus cases.

“We’re starting to bring the numbers down, still a very, very long way to go,” Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff said on Friday. “We hope to be able to continue that trend throughout the month of August. We’re entering a really, very [important] time where we are going to have to do well if we expect schools to be successful in their opening.”

On Friday evening, Metro Health officials announced they would no longer prohibit school districts from holding in-person class until after Labor Day after Gov. Greg Abbott announced local health authorities didn’t have the power to issue blanket school closure orders.

While City Attorney Andy Segovia said he didn’t agree with the governor’s interpretation of State law governing health authorities, he said the City wanted to provide clarity to families and educators. Even though Metro Health won’t ban on-campus instruction, local health officials recommended school districts wait to reopen classrooms.

Three coronavirus testing sites will be open throughout the month of August. That includes two sites at the Cuellar Community Center and Ramirez Community Center that don’t require appointments and are open every day from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. The third site is at the Freeman Coliseum and requires patients to schedule an appointment.

Emily Donaldson reports on education for the San Antonio Report.