COVID-19 cases ramp up in Bexar County but no new deaths reported

COVID-19 cases jumped again in Bexar County on Tuesday, and the area’s top leaders cautioned residents to stay at home as much as possible and maintain a 6-foot social distance from others if they are out in public.

There were 51 new cases of novel coronavirus, Mayor Ron Nirenberg said at the daily city-county briefing, bringing the total in Bexar County to 1,080. But there were no additional deaths; the number of deceased stands at 39 for the second day in a row.

Monday saw just 19 new cases and no new deaths. Last week also saw two consecutive days with no additional deaths.

“Stay the course,” Nirenberg urged residents. “It’s working.”

The majority of people infected with the virus are self-isolating at home. Only 82 are in the hospital; of those, 41 are in intensive care and 24 are on a ventilator, the mechanical device that pumps oxygen into the lungs.

At the briefing, Nirenberg announced that he and County Judge Nelson Wolff had appointed the economic transition team that will work with a panel of health experts named last week to develop a plan for reopening businesses and easing the stay-at-home restrictions.

“We’re going to be opening up slowly and methodically,” said Dawn Emerick, director of Metro Health.

The restrictions have been successful in slowing the spread of COVID-19, officials say, but they’ve had disastrous effects on the local economy, spurring tens of thousands of residents to seek unemployment assistance and laying waste to the city’s tourism and restaurant industries.

“It is imperative that we begin to chart a course for life after this pandemic’s surge, understanding that how and when our full economy resumes will have critical implications on our general public’s health and our region’s resiliency,” Nirenberg and Wolff wrote in a joint memo to City Council and Commissioners Court.

Kevin Voelkel, Toyota Motor Manufacturing Texas president, and Julissa Carielo, Tejas Premier Building Construction president, will helm the economic transition panel — made up of business leaders in many sectors including health care and hospitality, union officials as well as faith leaders and city and county officials.

The panel will consider how each sector can adopt social-distancing measures, preventative health and safety measures employers can take to protect their workers and guidelines on how to look for and contain new infections among customers and their employees.

A plan is expected by May 1.

Nirenberg, Wolff and Emerick said the city and county also are working with the state to determine when more of the city can open up. Abbott has named his own panel of business executives and lobbyists to assess that question and is expected to unveil his plan Monday.

Emerick said San Antonio could be included in mobile testing through the Texas National Guard, based on Abbott’s announcement on Monday that teams would be mobilized to help with testing throughout the state.

First responders

In other coronavirus-related developments, one more San Antonio firefighter has tested positive for the disease, a fire department spokesman said Tuesday, bringing the total to six. Overall, 52 uniformed fire department personnel are in quarantine.

All of the firefighters with the virus and those in quarantine are from the same station.

At the San Antonio Police Department, the number of sworn police officers testing positive remains at six — the same number reported Monday. The number of SAPD employees quarantined at home has decreased by one to 11. Eight of those in quarantine are sworn police officers, while three are civilians.

In Texas, more than 20,000 cases of COVID-19 have been diagnosed and 519 people have died. More than 6,400 patients diagnosed in Texas have recovered.

Area reports

In Comal County, 45 people have tested positive for COVID-19, officials reported Tuesday. That number grew by two Monday when a Garden Ridge resident in their 30s and a Spring Branch resident in their 50s were diagnosed with the virus. Both people live with previously confirmed coronavirus patients. They are self-isolating at home, officials said.

Comal has had two more patients recover, bringing that total to 32. Six people have died, while seven cases remain active, and of those, two are hospitalized while the others are isolated at home.

Kendall County reported a total of 15 cases of coronavirus. Eight are Boerne residents; six are from unincorporated Kendall County; and one is in Fair Oaks Ranch.

Of those Kendall cases, 11 are travel-related; two are the result of close-contact; and one was community transmission. A Boerne spokesman said that of the 15 positive cases, 13 people have recovered.

The two employees at Cibolo Creek Health and Rehabilitation Center who tested positive for COVID-19 continued to be quarantined at home Tuesday. No resident had tested positive as of Tuesday.

Atascosa County reported 14 total cases, with five still active. Eight people have recovered, and one person died.

Guadalupe County reported 60 positive cases, with no deaths.

In Wilson County, 23 cases have been confirmed. Two people have died.

Elizabeth Zavala covers county and state courts in San Antonio. To read more from Elizabeth, become a subscriber. | Twitter: @elizabeth2863

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