City officials on Monday confirmed a sixth coronavirus-related death in Bexar County and 11 additional positive test results, bringing the total number of infected people to 168.

The most recent fatality was a man in his 50s with underlying health issues. He died Monday at Methodist Northeast Hospital.

“If you weren’t already convinced, I hope the growing number of patients and casualties [in San Antonio] is seen as extremely dangerous, not just in California or New York, but here,” Mayor Ron Nirenberg said at a coronavirus briefing Monday. “We are all in this together, and we all need to do our part.”

Among the population testing positive for coronavirus locally are a San Antonio police officer who contracted the virus following travel outside of the city and an administrative employee with VIA Metropolitan Transit.

The infected SAPD officer, a seven-year veteran of the department, is recovering at home, according to City officials. The VIA employee, who worked at a security building for Transit Police on North Medina Street, is quarantined at home.

“The individual reported experiencing symptoms on Tuesday, March, 24, and did not report to work per VIA’s contagious virus protocol for employees, which proved successful in limiting exposure to others,” the public transit authority said in a statement.

The local increase in infections comes as Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff announced that Freeman Coliseum will be outfitted as a field hospital to accommodate potential overflow of coronavirus patients from area hospitals.

The field hospital is scheduled to be ready in a matter of days, Wolff said, noting that there will be 1,000 overflow beds and their respective locations identified by the end of the week.

In total, Bexar County has around 7,100 licensed beds and around 950 intensive care unit beds available at area hospitals, said Eric Epley, executive director at the Southwest Texas Regional Advisory Council, a network of hospitals and first responders who maintain the regional trauma and emergency health care system for San Antonio and the surrounding 22 counties.

A lot of those beds are available because area hospitals all agreed to stop performing elective surgeries, Epley said. “That’s given us a lot of capacity that we might otherwise not have had.”

Wolff said that there are currently 40 local health care providers who can provide COVID-19 testing, and the City and County are urging more providers to make testing available.

Texas health providers have administered more than 35,800 COVID-19 tests, according to the Department of State Health Services. Of those tests, 2,877 came back positive, and 38 people died.  

Roseanna Garza

Roseanna Garza

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