The local coronavirus death toll is now at nine as three more lives have been claimed by the disease, Mayor Ron Nirenberg said Tuesday.

The total number of positive coronavirus cases has risen to 207, according to local officials.

The three additional deaths include a man in his 50s with underlying health issues, a woman in her 80s with underlying health issues, and a man in his 80s who was first admitted to the hospital for unrelated concerns and later tested positive for coronavirus, Nirenberg said at a Tuesday press briefing.

“Life is precious, and we all have to do what we can to slow down the spread,” Nirenberg said. “We expect the number of cases to increase, so staying at home and social distancing is key.”

At the opening of the press briefing, Nirenberg cited a local epidemiologist who said COVID-19 has been spread throughout the globe largely by asymptomatic people.

“It’s deadly to all categories of people at an alarming rate and is as contagious as the measles,” he said. “A surge in cases doesn’t mean social distancing isn’t working, and we can’t look at instant gratification” during the pandemic.

A moment of silence will be held at 9 a.m. Thursday for the nine casualties.

Of those who tested positive in Bexar County, 63 have been through community transmission, and the remaining cases have been travel-related or by close contact with someone who contracted the virus outside the area. Fifty-four cases remain under investigation.

Nirenberg said 69 are currently receiving treatment at local hospitals, 32 have been admitted to area intensive care units, and 28 are currently being supported by ventilators. Forty-four patients have recovered while 154 remain ill.

City officials also disclosed for the first time the total number of tests administered in San Antonio, which includes 645 administered by six local private labs, and 547 administered by the San Antonio Metropolitan Health District.

“Testing is a major focus for us here in Bexar County and as we continue to get more people tested, we will continue to see an increase in the number of local cases,” Nirenberg said.

The Tuesday night increase of 39 cases marks the most significant jump in numbers since San Antonio had its first case diagnosed on March 13.

Local experts hope stay-at-home orders will slow the spread of coronavirus to the point where overflow hospitals aren’t necessary.

“If we flatten the curve, hopefully we stay at the edge of capacity,” said Eric Epley, referring to the need to keep the number of cases at a level medical personnel can handle. Epley is the executive director of the Southwest Texas Regional Advisory Council, a network of hospitals and first responders across 22 counties that maintains the regional trauma and emergency health care system.

According to zip code data provided by Metro Health, the Alamo Heights area remains the locale in Bexar County with the highest number of cases.

Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff said that the best way for Bexar County to address the uptick in coronaviruses cases is to “win the battle by working together.”

Bexar County has set up a $5 million fund to support local businesses and employees “facing economic challenges” as a result of the coronavirus causing people to be laid off and businesses to close, Wolff said.

“We know it’s a challenging time, and the best way to work through it is staying home whenever possible, and if you go out, practice social distancing,” he said.

Roseanna Garza

Roseanna Garza

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