'We Can't Withstand Another Surge': San Antonio Leaders Warn Against COVID-19 Spread | Texas Public Radio

'We Can't Withstand Another Surge': San Antonio Leaders Warn Against COVID-19 Spread

22 hours ago

In addition to COVID-19 case numbers, Texas Public Radio is updating information on how local businesses are adjusting, how you can help those in need and what you can do to stay entertained at home. TPR is also providing live updates on the Rio Grande Valley.

San Antonio

San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg held a special press conference with government and medical leaders to make another plea for social distancing during the Fourth of July weekend.

"We’re all aware of the status of the public health crisis facing our city," said Nirenberg. "Residents are lining up for tests which are being conducted by the thousands every single day."

He noted the spike of increased COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations that came almost exactly 14 days after Memorial Day.

"We cannot withstand another surge two weeks after Fourth of July," he said.

Guidelines for the weekend include avoiding large gatherings, wearing masks, washing hands, staying in one's own backyard and not sharing utensils.

"The most patriotic thing you can do this Independence Day is heed the warnings and stay away from parties," said Nirenberg.

There are 12,878 total positive cases of COVID-19 in the San Antonio area, with 374 new cases reported on Thursday. Four new deaths were also reported, bringing the total to 115. There are 1,074 COVID-19 patients in local hospitals, with 332 in intensive care and 180 on ventilators.

On Wednesday, Mayor Ron Nirenberg and County Judge Nelson Wolff updated Tuesday’s addendum to their executive orders. Originally, Nirenberg and Wolff wanted to require local businesses to check temperatures of all employees and customers. After feedback about the feasibility of this requirement, the officials are now encouraging temperature checks and requiring businesses to prominently display a list of COVID-19 symptoms.

Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff ordered to close all county parks, except for trails, from Friday through Sunday. 

As of Wednesday, hospitals were still under high stress, with 1,019 patients with COVID-19, up 53 from the day before. Of those patients, 324 were in intensive care and 175 were on ventilators. Capacity has been decreasing in recent weeks. As of Wednesday, 27% of staffed beds and 57% of ventilators were available. 

Bryan Alsip, chief medical officer of University Health System, said local hospitals are trying their best to increase beds and staffing for those beds.

“But there is a limit. It’s finite. If the rate of hospitalizations continues on its current trend, we will run into that limit and we will reach that capacity in two weeks or sooner.”

According to Alsip, local hospitals do have a steady supply of PPE. He added that all hospitals are actively creating new capacity.

Data also shows shifting demographics of COVID-19 patients. Around mid-April, the racial makeup of patients almost mirrored the makeup of San Antonio’s population.

Now, about 15.6% of all COVID-19 patients who have died are Black — even though they only make up about 7% of all cases and 8.5% of the city’s population.

Texas

During the press conference in San Antonio, Gov. Greg Abbott issued an executive order requiring Texans to wear a face masks in public spaces in counties with 20 or more COVID-19 cases.

When asked for his response to the new statewide order, Mayor Nirenberg said "It's about time."

Judge Wolff added that he hopes this new order also comes with the ability to enforce it with $5,000 fines.

As of Thursday, there have been 175,977 total confirmed cases across Texas — with Harris, Dallas and Tarrant counties reporting the highest numbers of cases. Bexar County has the fourth most cases.

According to the Texas Department of State Health Services, there are currently more than 7,382 patients with COVID-19 in Texas hospitals. 

Texas began allowing its first businesses to reopen May 1.

National and International

Find the latest national and international updates on COVID-19 from NPR's live blog

Zoom in and scroll to find data on areas across the globe. Find more information at Johns Hopkins coronavirus resource center.

The CDC has provided COVID-19 guidelines in English and Spanish

Find the latest information from Metro Health here