The risk level of the COVID-19 pandemic in San Antonio has been downgraded to “steady,” months after officials introduced the system amid a June spike in cases.

The doubling rate – the length of time it takes for COVID-19 cases to double – in Bexar County has improved week-over-week from 21 days to 24, County Judge Nelson Wolff said at a Monday briefing.

“We need to get to 36 days,” Wolff said. “If you keep doing what we should be doing, [including] masks, social distancing, sanitation … and not [gathering] in large groups, our numbers will continue to look better.” 

The doubling rate is one of three metrics being monitored as schools prepare for in-person instruction. Also included are the positivity rate – the percentage of people testing positive for the coronavirus – and rate of decline. 

The current positivity rate is around 13 percent, but local officials want it to be closer to 5 percent when students go back to campus. The seven-day average positivity rate in Texas is 19.3, according to the Coronavirus Resource Center at Johns Hopkins University.

Golareh Agha, the San Antonio Metropolitan Health District’s Chief of Informatics, said that Metro Health looks at the case curve over a 14-day period to see how numbers have changed from one day to the next and pays particular attention to dramatic changes in numbers. The area has seen sustained decline in recent weeks, but if hundreds more people suddenly began testing positive, that would constitute a spike in cases, she said.

Bexar County reported 176 new coronavirus cases on Monday, bringing the total to 42,959 since the start of the pandemic. Ten more deaths brought the toll to 455.

Of the 725 residents in the hospital, 305 are in intensive care, and 216 are on ventilators. 

Ages and ethnicities of deceased

9 Hispanic men between the ages of 40 and 89

1 Hispanic woman in her 70s

Even as hospitals have seen a net decrease in patients over the past few weeks, numbers remain high, Mayor Ron Nirenberg said. Although the risk level has been downgraded to steady, Nirenberg said the level of coronavirus transmission remains a concern if school reopenings are to go off without a hitch. Thought to be less susceptible to coronavirus in the early stages of the pandemic, school-age children have begun to test positive for the virus at a higher clip in recent weeks.

“Overall, our risk level for the community is continuing to go down but ever so slowly,” he said.

Roseanna Garza

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