San Antonio, Bexar County report 936 new coronavirus cases, seven more deaths

Peggy O’Hare

The trajectory of newly diagnosed coronavirus cases in Bexar County rose sharply Friday, with local officials reporting 936 more infections and seven additional deaths.

The large number of new cases — the highest reported since July — was attributed partly to one laboratory reporting a week’s worth of test results to the city’s Metropolitan Health District at the same time.

The local seven-day rolling average has jumped to 399 new daily cases, which Mayor Ron Nirenberg called a significant increase.

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“Clearly, the virus is spreading in our community, and we need to respond accordingly,” Nirenberg said. “It’s very important that people take this seriously.”

The city of San Antonio sent an emergency alert to cellular phones in the area Friday night, urging people to avoid unnecessary outings and stay away from social gatherings. The alert also reminded people to wear face masks to guard against the spread of the virus.

“Please consider spending the holidays only with those who are a part of your immediate household,” Nirenberg said. “We want to ensure that we have many more family gatherings with loved ones in our future.”

The latest numbers warrant attention, said assistant city manager Colleen Bridger, who oversees Metro Health.

“The numbers are sounding pretty scary right now,” Bridger said Friday. “I do want people to take this very seriously. This increase in people who are infected with COVID-19 is significant.”

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The 936 people newly diagnosed were tested over the past 14 days.

“This doesn’t mean that yesterday we had almost 1,000 people who tested positive for COVID-19,” Bridger said.

Hospitalizations related to the virus also remained heightened. On Friday, 444 patients who tested positive were being cared for in San Antonio hospitals, including 62 new admissions in the past 24 hours.

Of those, 141 patients were in intensive care units and 66 patients were on ventilators to help them breathe.

Those hospitalized with COVID-19 in San Antonio include 65 people from El Paso, where hospitals have reached maximum capacity because of the virus.

Ten percent of staffed patient beds remained available at San Antonio hospitals Friday, while 70 percent of ventilators were still in stock and ready for use.

The latest victims to die after contracting the virus were all men. They included a white man in his 50s and a Hispanic man in his 60s, who both died at Methodist Hospital; a Hispanic man in his 60s who died at Mission Trail Baptist Hospital; a black man in his 60s whose death was reported to Metro Health by the Bexar County Medical Examiner’s Office; a Hispanic man in his 70s who died at St. Luke’s Baptist Hospital; a Hispanic man in his 80s who died at Baptist Medical Center, and a white man in his 90s who died at the Audie L. Murphy VA Hospital.

All of those patients died in the past two weeks, city officials said.

Since the pandemic began eight months ago, 72,313 Bexar County residents have tested positive for COVID-19, while 1,316 of them have died.

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As of Nov. 9 — the most recent data available from Metro Health — 4 percent of those diagnosed, or nearly 2,900 people, still had active cases of the virus. But 96 percent of those diagnosed throughout the pandemic have recovered. That amounts to almost 70,000 recoveries.

“We are testing more than we have ever tested in the city,” Bridger said. “So as we test more, we do expect to find more people. That’s actually a good thing — because then we can help those people stop spreading the virus to all of their contacts.”

In nearby Comal County, 50 newly diagnosed cases of coronavirus were reported Friday, most of them in New Braunfels. The county’s death toll stands at 125.

Public health officials report Comal County had nearly 400 active cases on Friday. Those who are sick include 13 patients who are now hospitalized.

Since the pandemic began in March, 4,338 Comal County residents have tested positive for the coronavirus. Around 88 percent of them — more than 3,800 people — have recovered.

Comal County hospitals reported caring for 21 coronavirus patients Friday. Among them were eight patients in intensive care and three patients on ventilators. Some of those in Comal County hospitals live in other counties.

Comal Couty’s seven-day positivity rate has risen to 10 percent.

Across Texas, almost 12,000 new coronavirus cases were reported Friday, along with 183 more deaths. Almost 8,200 patients sick with COVID were in Texas hospitals.

The number of Texans who have contracted the virus since March is closing in on 1.1 million. The statewide death toll stands at 20,296.

State health department officials report there are nearly 153,000 active cases of the virus across Texas.

The state’s recovery rate stands at 84 percent.

Peggy O’Hare covers demographics, the census and occasionally crime and general assignment stories in the San Antonio and Bexar County area. To read more from Peggy, become a subscriber. pohare@express-news.net | Twitter: @Peggy_OHare


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