The number of those hospitalized for coronavirus is continuing its modest decline, though San Antonio still remains in the throes of the pandemic.

Nine more people in Bexar County were declared dead from coronavirus Saturday, bringing the death toll to 322. Officials did not release any specifics Saturday about the deceased.

The stress the virus is causing on San Antonio’s hospital system has declined over the past 10 days, according to San Antonio Metropolitan Health District statistics. Asked during a Friday briefing whether any of the recent numbers gave officials hope, Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff pointed to a decline of those in the hospital with the virus from a high of 1,267 on July 13.

On Saturday, Metro Health reported 1,047 coronavirus patients in local hospitals, down from 1,059 yesterday.

“That’s definitely a step forward,” Wolff said. “The other numbers are just so hard to make a lot of sense out of.”

Metro Health reported 758 new coronavirus cases Saturday, up from 299 additional cases reported Friday. San Antonio’s total case count now stands at 35,690.

“Those numbers have jumped all over,” Wolff said. “We don’t know how old some of those cases are.”

In late June and early July, San Antonio was “reeling” from a spike in cases tied to spread of the virus that began around Memorial Day, Nirenberg said in the Friday briefing.

“If people are interested in what life will look like and want a bit of normalcy by the end of August, we’ve got to buckle down now and work together to stop the spread of this virus,” Nirenberg said.

Though the hospital system remains on the threshold of critical stress, the number of people in intensive care declined from 430 to 419 on Saturday, with the number on ventilators decreasing from 294 to 290.

Statewide, the death toll increased by 168 as of Saturday, bringing the total to 4,885, according to the Texas Department of State Health Services. Bexar County is third behind Harris and Dallas counties for total caseloads.

Texas also faces additional woes from Hurricane Hanna, the first named Atlantic storm of the 2020 hurricane season. The storm made landfall Saturday evening, with the eye of the storm around 5 miles north of Port Mansfield on the Texas Gulf Coast as of 7 p.m. Saturday. Radar shows the storm headed southwest toward the Rio Grande Valley.

Freeman Coliseum is currently serving as a reception center for evacuees fleeing the hurricane, officials from the City’s Office of Emergency Management said Saturday. Those who arrive will be given information about available hotels, but the arena is not currently serving as a shelter.

With forecasters predicting an unusually active hurricane season this year, local emergency officials began preparing in May for sheltering those fleeing storms, even in the middle of the pandemic.

“Health screenings, and appropriate socially distanced housing are part of this plan, all of which would begin at the departure point for the evacuee,” Joe Arrington, San Antonio Fire Department spokesman, said in a Saturday email.

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Brendan Gibbons

Brendan Gibbons is a former senior reporter at the San Antonio Report. He is an environmental journalist for Oil & Gas Watch.