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April 16: Masks Now Required To Be Worn In San Antonio

A policeman wearing a face mask warns a driver on the road between Codogno and Casalpusterlengo, which has been closed by the Italian government due to a coronavirus outbreak in northern Italy, February 23, 2020.
A policeman wearing a face mask warns a driver on the road between Codogno and Casalpusterlengo, which has been closed by the Italian government due to a coronavirus outbreak in northern Italy, February 23, 2020.
This Post is Archived: Find the newest information on COVID-19 in San Antonio at the links below.

Texas Public Radio is updating the latest information on COVID-19 in the San Antonio area, along with 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.
Other NPR stations that are part of The Texas Newsroom are also live-blogging, including Houston Public Media,  KERA in Dallas and KUT in Austin. 
The statewide coronavirus hotline is 2-1-1, and San Antonio's Metro Health hotline is 210-207-5779.

Here's what we know ...

Thursday, April 16

6:15 p.m. — 918 confirmed cases, updated emergency declarations

There are now 918 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the San Antonio area. There were no new deaths related to the virus to report, leaving the total at 37.

Since the pandemic began, 176 people in the area have recovered.

Mayor Ron Nirenberg and Judge Nelson Wolff announced they are updating the city and county's emergency health declarations. One of the updates requires masks to be worn in public places for people older than 10.

Another update asks businesses to instate 25% space requirements. Wolff said that means stores should increase previous spacing requirements by 25%.

These updates go into effect as soon as possible.

6 p.m. — Watch today's daily briefing

3:45 p.m. — USAA to give stimulus money back to customers after applying it to negative balances

The San Antonio-based financial services company USAA just reversed course on a controversial practice. As stimulus payments appeared in members’ accounts this week, USAA took some of that money and applied it toward negative balances.

Many criticized USAA on social media for its harsh stance in a national emergency.

Beginning as early as Thursday USAA will return those funds and allow members with negative account balances to access the full amount of their stimulus checks. The company will pause collection on those accounts for 90 days.

USAA spokesman Matt Hartwig said in an email, “This will allow members access to their full stimulus payment to help cover the costs of rent, food and other important necessities.”

USAA has about 13 million members, made up of current and former military personnel and their family members. 

9:30 a.m. — 3 San Antonio firefighters, 6 police officers test postive

In a statement, the San Antonio Fire Department announced a total of  three uniformed firefighters who have tested positive for COVID-19. An additional 47 are in quarantine as a precaution.

The station is being thoroughly cleaned and sanitized, the statement said.

Officials with the San Antonio Police Department also reported that a total of six officers have tested positive for COVID-19. An additional seven are in quarantine. 

9:05 a.m. — Toyota makes face shields

San Antonio’s Toyota plant has switched to making face shields instead of vehicles during the coronavirus pandemic. Toyota Motor Manufacturing Texas began producing the face shields for first responders and healthcare professionals at the beginning of April.

Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff says the plant is making 75,000 of them.

Vehicle manufacturing was halted at the Toyota plant last month. The face shields are being produced at five Toyota plants across the country.

Wednesday, April 15

6:15 p.m. — Confirmed cases jump to 890

There are now 890 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the San Antonio area — that's an increase of 75 since Tuesday.

Four more deaths were reported due to complications caused by the virus. One of the four new deaths was connected to the outbreak at the Southeast Nursing and Rehabilitation Center. The 17 deaths at the facility make up nearly half of the 37 fatalities reported in Bexar County.

Wednesday’s briefing by San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg and Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff also brought some good news — six more people have recovered from the virus, bringing the total number of recoveries to 147.

77 people remain hospitalized, 50 of which are in intensive care and 36 are on ventilators.

The Bexar County Jail reported that two more inmates have tested positive for COVID-19, which brings the total to 10.

Officials with the City of San Antonio and Bexar County warned against "arbitrary dates" of when the city, state and country could reopen. Mayor Ron Nirenberg and Judge Nelson Wolff said they are working on plans to open entities in phases. 

Whenever that may happen, Wolff said, people should still do everything they can to stay safe and maintain social distancing as much as possible.

Several predictive models have been created based off current conditions in order to estimate San Antonio's potential peak.

Assistant City Manager Dr. Colleen Bridger warned that making it through the peak doesn't mean the pandemic is over.

"San Antonio will continue dealing with COVID-19 for months after the peak and we should continue to practice social distancing and good hygiene," said Bridger.

To read yesterday's entire COVID-19 brief, click here.

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