Schools will not open for in-person instruction in Bexar County until Labor Day, per a local order issued on Friday as the area saw an increase of 11 COVID-19 deaths. It’s the 17th straight day a coronavirus-related death has been recorded locally.

COVID-19-related hospitalizations were down on Friday for the fourth day in a row, but an uptick in patients in intensive care and on ventilators has local officials concerned over continued stress on the hospital system. 

Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff on Friday said that officials are hopeful for a continued decline, but schools need to keep in mind that the virus is continuing to spread heading into the next school year. 

The health directive issued by Dr. Junda Woo, the San Antonio Metropolitan Health District’s medical director, on Friday requires public and private school campuses to remain closed through Labor Day, Sept. 7.

“Hopefully by Sept. 7 we will be in much better shape,” Wolff said.

The directive comes as Bexar County saw an increase of 478 new coronavirus cases on Friday, bringing the total to 27,525. Eleven more people died, ranging from age 40 to 89. The death toll stands at 240.

Despite the decrease in hospitalizations, six more people are receiving treatment in intensive care, for a total of 436, and 21 more patients were on ventilators, totaling 298.

Eleven percent of hospital beds and 45 percent of ventilators remain available, Nirenberg said. 

The number of new coronavirus cases in the jails continues to increase as well. The Bexar County Adult Detention Center saw its peak in coronavirus cases in early May when nearly 300 of the more than 3,800 inmates tested positive, Sheriff Javier Salazar said. The outbreak at the jail was brought under control when the population declined to less than 3,000.

But the “number is slowly creeping up again,” Salazar said. That can be attributed in part to an increase in the jail population to about 3,600. Salazar said that nearly 80 inmates held at the jail have tested positive. 

“The jail population is higher than what we are comfortable with at this point,” Salazar said, but the facilities are still being cleaned three times per day, and a disinfectant mist is being used twice a week to help curb the spread, in addition to inmates being given a new mask to use each day.

Also, 48 sheriff’s deputies working inside the jail recently tested positive for COVID-19 along with seven who work outside of the facility. So far, 95 deputies have tested positive for COVID-19, Salazar said. 

Currently, five sheriff’s deputies are hospitalized COVID-19, of which two are being treated in intensive care. 

“They’re not in good condition right now,” Salazar said, with one on a ventilator and the other receiving treatment from an extracorporeal membrane oxygenation, or ECMO, machine to keep oxygen in the blood. “We are obviously hoping for the best.”

Roseanna Garza

Roseanna Garza

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