A vigil honoring those who passed away from COVID-19 is set up in Main Plaza in front of San Fernando Cathedral. Credit: Bonnie Arbittier / San Antonio Report

A vigil overflowing with flowers and photos of people who died of COVID-19-related symptoms was set up in Main Plaza on Thursday. 

The public was invited to bring tributes of loved ones who died of the virus, which has claimed the lives of an additional 15 people in Bexar County between the ages of 50 and 89, bringing the toll to 560. The deaths occurred between June 19 and Aug. 10.

There are still 266 state-reported deaths under investigation by the San Antonio Metropolitan Health District to determine if they were COVID-19-positive and were residents of Bexar County. 

Ages and ethnicities of deceased

• 8 Hispanic men between age 50 and 89
• 3 Hispanic women between age 50 and 89
• 2 residents of unknown ethnicity between age 50 and 79
• 2 white men between age 80 and 89

Mayor Ron Nirenberg asked people to remain vigilant as numbers continue to trend in the right direction, including the number of hospitalizations, which dipped below 700 for the first time in weeks. 

Fifty new patients were hospitalized for COVID-19 related symptoms on Thursday, and the total being treated at area hospitals dropped to 694. 

Of those hospitalized, 311 are in intensive care, and 213 are on ventilators, leaving 51 percent of ventilators available and 16 percent of staffed hospital beds. 

With 218 new coronavirus cases reported Thursday, the total in Bexar County is now 46,673.

To further mitigate the spread of coronavirus, Bexar County has distributed $9 million, much of it for personal protective equipment and helping small businesses, throughout the 26 suburban cities that were not eligible for federal coronavirus relief funds, County Commissioner Kevin Wolff (Pct. 3) said at a Thursday briefing. 

“We need to wear a mask, we need to do our social distancing. We also need to go back to work. We also need to educate,” Wolff said. “That means we have to adapt and overcome these types of things.”

Wolff said 90 percent of San Antonio’s employees are employed by small businesses and that “people have got to go back to work and we’ve got to do it safely,” so the county has to continue practicing safety protocols.

As some local bars are being reclassified and allowed to open as restaurants, City and County officials are deploying enforcement teams that are aware of the concern and will respond to citizen complaints and concerns accordingly, said Dr. Junda Woo, medical director at Metro Health. 

We know that people tend to be in close quarters when they are at a bar, Woo said, and in addition to people not having a mask on correctly, “alcohol also loosens your inhibitions.”

Bexar County has slowed down a lot when it comes to the number of new coronavirus cases, from “going 100 miles an hour and now [we are] only going 50,” Woo said. “You have slowed down a lot, but you can’t get out of the car yet. You’re still going 50 miles an hour.”

Roseanna Garza

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