A recent slowdown in positive coronavirus cases is being viewed as “a little ray of hope” by city leaders despite the hospital system remaining under high stress, with just 12 percent of beds available.

Despite the slower rates of transmission, “we are days away from overrunning our hospital system,” Mayor Ron Nirenberg said at a Monday briefing. New case numbers, hospitalizations, and a high percentage of positive tests continue to be troublesome, he said. Last week, one out of every five residents tested positive for the coronavirus. 

“It remains to be seen if this decline is going to be sustained,” said Dr. Anita Kurian, the San Antonio Metropolitan Health District’s assistant director.

“If you continue to see, for another two to three weeks, a sustained decline in the number of new infections, then we probably can safely assume that we plateaued,” Kurian said. “But it’s too early to say that.”

With the additional 351 cases of coronavirus, the total number of cases in the community is 15,102. Of those cases, 1,168 people are currently hospitalized, with 382 people in intensive care, and 213 on ventilators. 

Two more people died, bringing the local death toll to 132. 

To help care for more critical patients, the Department of State Health Services will deploy 180 nurses primarily in the intensive care units of area hospitals, said Dr. Kenneth Davis, chief medical officer for Christus Health South Texas.

“Without that, we would be in a much more dire situation,” he said.

Testing capacity has increased to accommodate more than 7,100 tests per day, and City officials are encouraging people with insurance to schedule testing appointments with primary care providers and save free testing for the uninsured and under-insured. 

COVID-19 tests are covered by a person’s insurance with a copayment, Kurian said, and the City sites are now prioritizing testing people with symptoms. 

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There are more than 50 COVID-19 testing sites throughout Bexar County. 

Nirenberg said that while officials “are hopeful the curve will be changing” because people are being more careful, one local bar – Drink Texas on Navarro Street downtown – was shut down over the Fourth of July weekend for operating illegally.

“People have to get used to some of these minor inconveniences,” he said. “We shouldn’t be complaining about putting a face covering on.”

Roseanna Garza

Roseanna Garza

Roseanna Garza reports on health and bioscience for the Rivard Report.