Texas reported 197 new coronavirus-related deaths on Wednesday, setting a record for the most deaths the State has reported in a single day.

Of those, nine were in Bexar County, bringing the local death toll to 283.

Wednesday’s 1,688-person increase in Bexar County’s coronavirus cases, Mayor Ron Nirenberg said, is part of a five-day surge tied to the Fourth of July weekend that averaged about 1,200 cases a day. The previous five days’ average count was about half that.

Ages and ethnic backgrounds of deceased
  • 8 Hispanic men ranging in age from 20 to 99
  • 1 white man in his 80s

The increase puts the county’s total coronavirus cases at 33,555.

Dr. Bryan Alsip, executive vice president and chief medical officer of University Health System, said the July 4 weekend surge is “a similar experience” to what happened after Memorial Day when there was an uptick in case count and hospitalizations.

The mask mandate issued by Gov. Greg Abbott on July 3 helped keep the count lower, Alsip said at a Wednesday briefing. “But we haven’t seen the steep decline” in the number of hospitalizations. 

Currently, 1,113 people are being treated in area hospitals for COVID-19 symptoms, of which 429 are in intensive care and 287 on ventilators. 

Alsip said that while hospitals are still under severe stress, there has been a decline in the number of hospitalizations since a high of 1,267 on July 13, which indicates Bexar County could be nearing a plateau.

And while “all of us want to be optimistic, we have to not let our guard down,” Alsip said. “We won’t, we can’t, we shouldn’t,” because the disease can spread rapidly and quickly overwhelm the hospital system. 

Five percent of hospitalized COVID-19 patients are 19 and younger, Nirenberg said, and of those, 36 percent – approximately 20 patients – are 2 years old and younger.

“No age group is immune from this virus,” Nirenberg said. “Please don’t risk the life of another person, whether elderly or young, by not following the guidance of public health officials.”

The San Antonio Metropolitan Health District has been increasing the number of contact tracers and investigators in response to the continued uptick in cases, adding 50 next week to help with outreach to those who test positive so the department can track symptom progression and ensure anyone they might have had close contact with is aware of their risk of infection. 

UT Health San Antonio is working with the City to hire and train an additional 200 people to help with this effort, said Mario Martinez, assistant director of Metro Health.

Roseanna Garza

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