Two more walk-up coronavirus testing sites will open Thursday, Mayor Ron Nirenberg said.

The testing sites, which are free and open to all without an appointment, can be found at the Claude Black Community Center at 2805 E. Commerce St. and the Southside Lions Center at 3100 Hiawatha St. Individuals requesting a coronavirus test will be screened on-site for symptoms such as difficulty breathing, loss of taste or smell, and fever. 

The walk-up sites will be open Thursday, Friday, and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Previous walk-up sites were open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Nirenberg said he was not sure why the new sites will open for fewer hours this week.

He emphasized that these testing sites are available to everyone.

People no longer need to have symptoms to get tested, “but really a test should be administered to people who need them – whether they’ve been exposed, or whether they have symptoms,” Nirenberg said.

The Bexar County coronavirus case count increased by 34 positive test results Wednesday, bringing the total to 1,976. There are 67 patients currently hospitalized, 36 of which are in intensive care and 27 on ventilators. Nirenberg noted that 547 of the positive cases so far came from congregate settings, such as nursing homes.

San Antonio and Bexar County will continue universal testing of nursing homes, as per the governor’s Monday directive, but San Antonio will not receive state help to do so, Nirenberg said.

“There are state military teams conducting testing,” Nirenberg said. “But our understanding is that those are only being deployed to rural areas, that urban communities are on their own.”

Nirenberg said San Antonio had started universal testing in nursing homes before the governor’s recent mandate. The San Antonio Fire Department will conduct coronavirus testing in 65 nursing homes over the next two weeks, he said.

“We do expect to see an increase as a result of that universal testing of COVID-19, but it should be noted also that the community [spread] outside of congregate settings … has decreased by a small amount in each of the last two weeks – the percentage of new positive cases.”

A woman in her 80s died of coronavirus, Nirenberg said, bringing the total number of deaths to 58. She was a resident at Rio at Mission Trails nursing home. According to the City’s COVID-19 website, there have been nine confirmed cases of coronavirus at that facility so far.

CPS Energy CEO Paula Gold Williams and SAWS CEO Robert Puente joined Nirenberg and Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff at their daily media briefing Wednesday. They emphasized that neither utility would be disconnecting services to customers and touted the CPS payment plan option and SAWS affordability program as helpful tools to customers struggling to pay their bills.

Neither company has seen a dramatic increase in people seeking help, though Puente said that could be a result of not many people knowing of its existence. 

“What we have seen is a 300 percent increase in the residents that are eligible to be disconnected,” he said. “So there are a lot of people being adversely affected by this – a lot of people that are not paying their water bill. And that’s the big problem that we see right now with what the revenues coming in for the summer.”

Meanwhile, Bexar County commissioners plan to tackle federal coronavirus relief funding allocation at a Thursday morning meeting, Wolff said.

The commissioners also will hear a legal opinion drafted by the district attorney’s office over mail-in ballot eligibility. The issue has gone to multiple courts, and Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton even petitioned the Texas Supreme Court Wednesday to order county election officials in Harris, Dallas, Travis, El Paso, and Cameron counties to follow the attorney general’s interpretation of existing absentee ballot requirements. 

Jackie Wang covered local government for the San Antonio Report.