Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff held up a photo Thursday taken by a student at a Georgia high school of fellow students – mostly without masks – jammed into a crowded hallway, which he Wolff said is a reminder of how careful schools need to be when reopening. 

It’s going to be hard to ensure that students follow the social distancing guidelines necessary to slow the spread of the coronavirus, Wolff said. “We just need to be very careful” to ensure this doesn’t happen at local schools – particularly the larger ones. 

As the school year draws close, San Antonio Metropolitan Health District officials are tracking the positivity rate, whether there is a continuous decline in cases for two consecutive weeks, and the rate at which cases are doubling as gauges when moving toward on-site learning. 

The current 15 percent positivity rate here is nowhere near the 5 percent goal that Metro Health asked schools to keep in mind, Mayor Ron Nirenberg said, despite a recent downward trend in the numbers. “We need to keep that going because it’s just not going to go down as fast as it went up, in terms of the infection rate.”

With 325 new coronavirus cases on Thursday, the total is now 41,939. 

Twelve additional deaths were reported Thursday among people ages 50 to 99, bringing the toll to 406. Four of the deaths were among residents at the Landing at Stone Oak senior living facility who passed away over the last two weeks, Nirenberg said. 

Ages and ethnicities of deceased
  • 6 Hispanic men between the ages of 50 and 99
  • 4 Hispanic women between the ages of 50 and 79
  • 1 white woman in her 90s
  • 1 white man in his 80s

The facility deaths come as the Texas Health and Human Services Commission loosened restrictions for visitors at area senior living and long-term care facilities, allowing people to visit family members in outdoor settings with the proper social distancing and mask precautions being followed. 

There can be no physical contact between the visitor and resident, Wolff said, and the facility being visited must not have had a positive coronavirus case within 14 days. 

Dr. Junda Woo, Metro Health’s medical director, said allowing for visitation is “very promising.” She said it hasn’t been easy for people “who have been suffering, unable to see their family members.”

“I understand why we want to look for another compromise, as we are going to be living with COVID for a long time,” Woo said. 

The number of Bexar County COVID-19 patients hospitalized was 801 Thursday, a decrease of 16 from Wednesday. While hospitals have been less overwhelmed recently, there were 79 new admissions Thursday and the hospital system remains under severe stress, Nirenberg said. 

Of the 801 hospitalized, 345 are in intensive care and 238 are on ventilators – unchanged from Wednesday, he said. 

The hard work “is beginning to pay off, but we are we are not out of the woods yet – a lot of work yet to be done,” Nirenberg said.

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