Councilwoman Adriana Rocha-Garcia (D4)
Councilwoman Adriana Rocha-Garcia (D4) Credit: Stephanie Marquez / San Antonio Report

After the county’s latest coronavirus numbers were announced Friday evening, Councilwoman Adriana Rocha Garcia (D4) discussed the impact the pandemic has had on her Southside district as well as how the virus affected her own family. 

“When I started looking at the numbers … I was watching out for my zip codes, and I could tell that they were [at] the highest level,” Garcia said.

More than 13 percent of local cases have been in District 4, and district residents have accounted for 11 percent of all deaths, she said.

District 4 accounts for 13.5 percent of COVID-19 cases and 11 percent of deaths.

“This results from a lack of access to health care and a lack of access to meals that are healthy, and a lack of access to a whole lot of things that we take for granted that are important to our quality of life,” she said.

The San Antonio Metropolitan Health District has put a plan in place to focus on the local communities that have been hit the hardest, including District 4, she said.

From Aug. 17 through 19, a team will survey residents in Districts 2, 3, 4, and 5 with the aim of identifying needed resources. Later in the month, teams will go door to door to disseminate more COVID-19 information, she said.

Garcia has lost six cousins to COVID-19, all on her father’s side, and at one point had 14 extended family members in the hospital, several of whom were on ventilators. 

“[My dad] had been crying every day,” she said. “And the sad part is that I couldn’t even hug him. Because we want to make sure that he stays healthy and my mom stays healthy. So I visit them still every single day, but I’m outside, 6 feet away from them.”

With 150 new cases reported in Bexar County on Friday evening, the curve in San Antonio continued its descent. Overall, the county has had 43,823 cases total since March.

Area hospitals are treating 651 COVID-19 patients, a decline of nearly 50 from Thursday. A majority of those cases are serious, as 306 are in intensive care, and 195 are on ventilators. The hospital system remains under high stress but it is showing signs of improvement, Mayor Ron Nirenberg said.

Ages and ethnicities of deceased

10 Hispanic men between age 20 and 99

7 Hispanic women between age 20 and 89

1 white man in his 60s

However, Garcia and city officials warned the virus could make a strong resurgence if people don’t stay home on Labor Day in several weeks. 

“Labor Day is a big, big concern for us because I know people want to go see family and friends and people want to go to the lake,” Nirenberg said. However, “we can see the consequences of that soon in September if we don’t do the right thing.”

Metro Health also reported 18 deaths on Friday, bringing the toll to 578. The 18 fatalities all took place between June 17 and Aug. 12.

As students head back to school via online methods in the upcoming weeks, Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff said officials are shooting for schools to open Sept. 8. That, however, will depend on the community continuing to keep up with wearing masks and taking other precautions as well. 

“We want to have our community in a very safe condition before we [open the schools],” he said. “So let’s keep up the hard work and just make sure we continue to do all the things that we need to do to protect ourselves as well as our fellow citizens.”

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Lindsey Carnett

Lindsey Carnett covers the environment, science and utilities for the San Antonio Report.