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San Antonio

May 22: San Antonio Mayor Says Increase In Hospitalizations Is Not Attributed To Increased Testing

Dominic Anthony | Texas Public Radio
The Amp Room on St. Mary's St.

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.

Friday, May 22

6:30 p.m. — Majority of new cases are from community spread

Mayor Ron Nirenberg reported 2,392 confirmed cases, up 21 from yesterday. A majority of the new cases are from community spread — 13 cases — with only one from congregate settings. The other seven cases have yet to be categorized.

There have been two new deaths, bringing the total to 66.

In local hospitals, there are 73 people who have tested positive and 17 cases under investigation. There are 41 people in intensive care and 21 on ventilators.

In April, the number of patients in local hospitals dropped below 60. Yesterday, there were 82 people in the hospital and today, 73. According to Nirenberg, the growth in number of hospitalizations cannot be attributed to increased testing because the patients were not asymptomatic. While the increase is gradual, Nirenberg said it is still a cause for concern.

The increase is a reminder that the virus is still out there, Nirenberg added. He warned that as Texas reopens, citizens should keep that in mind and said it is critical that people follow the public health professionals’ recommendations.

6:10 p.m. — Watch today's daily briefing

4:25 p.m. — JBSA updates health protection level

Starting Tuesday, May 26, Joint Base San Antonio will downgrade its health protection level to “moderate” and reopen some of the facilities it closed because of COVID-19.

Fitness centers will open their doors to some, with rules in place for building occupancy and mask-wearing.

JBSA will also discontinue its “Official Business Only” policy, and reinstate Trusted Traveler access. That means Department of Defense cardholders can access the installation and vouch for other occupants in their vehicles.

Visitor passes will no longer need command sponsorship.


Joint Base San Antonio commander Laura Lenderman spoke about the changes in a Facebook video Friday.

“There's still a threat of disease," she said. "So we still need you to maintain social distancing, wear your masks, sanitize the equipment, sanitize your hands... as we transition to this next health protection condition."

JBSA officials said the changes were made based on “significant progress made since the first cases of COVID-19.” Base leaders added they took CDC guidance  and San Antonio’s phased reopening plan into account. 

On May 20, Defense Secretary Mark Esper issued guidelines for base commanders seeking to adjust local health protection condition levels. Before implementing its own changes, JBSA public health officials certified that the following criteria were met, according to base spokeswoman Maj. Kim Bender:

  • Downward trajectory of reported cases of influenza-like and COVID-like illnesses over the preceding 14-day period.
  • Downward trajectory of documented COVID-19 cases or of positive tests as a percent of total tests over the preceding 14-day period.
  • Military MTFs or local hospitals have the capacity to treat patients and have an adequate diagnostic COVID-19 testing program in place for at-risk healthcare workers and those exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19.

To stay informed on JBSA’s reopening phases for services, facilities, and workspaces, monitor the JBSA webpage dedicated to COVID19.

11:30 a.m. — Update on surrounding counties

Comal County confirmed one new case Thursday, bringing the total 82.  There are 56 people who have recovered from the virus and there have been six deaths reported.

Atascosa County confirmed 36 cases this week, with 25 recoveries and only one death related to the virus.

The Texas Department of State Health Services has confirmed 116 cases in Guadalupe County.  There are 38 cases in Wilson County and 64 cases in Medina County.

There are 24 COVID-19 cases in Kendall County. Both Uvalde and Bandera Counties report six cases each.

12:01 a.m. — Bars, bowling alleys, other businesses begin reopening

Bars, bowling alleys, zoos and aquariums, and other businesses can begin welcoming customers again today.

As part of Governor Greg Abbott’s “Open Texas” plan, the businesses will be allowed to operate at 25% capacity and should enforce social distancing.

Dancing and other close-contact interactions are discouraged at bars and customers should be seated at tables. Customers must be kept 6 feet apart at bowling alleys, bingo halls, and roller skating rinks.

Restaurants are also included in the Governor’s latest phase of his reopening plan, now being allowed to operate at 50% capacity. Previously, restaurants were cut off at 25% capacity.

The Governor’s office released a series of checklists intended to serve as a guideline for the latest slew of businesses reopening.

Another round of reopenings will come May 31, including youth summer camps and certain professional sports, but in-person spectators will not be allowed.

Thursday, May 21

6:30 p.m. — Universal testing continues in nursing homes

Mayor Ron Nirenberg reported 2,371 total cases in the San Antonio area, up 49 from yesterday.

Of the new cases, 26 are from community spread and six are from congregate settings. There are 17 cases that have not yet been categorized.

There has been one new death, bringing the total to 64.

In local hospitals, there are 82 confirmed cases and 17 under investigation. There are 40 people in intensive care and 20 on ventilators.

Nirenberg reminded that the city is working through universal testing in congregate settings. Of the 65 nursing homes in the San Antonio area, 28 have been fully tested, with a priority of facilities which have confirmed cases.

1,624 nursing staff and 1,263 residents have been tested. Nirenberg said he hopes all 65 will be tested by the end of next week.

Nirenberg explained that the city’s “Stay Home, Work Safe” order has been extended until June 4. He said the order is aligned with Gov. Greg Abbott’s executive order.

Courtesy of the City of San Antonio

The city’s reopening will be phased.

Testing sites will be open on Memorial Day, and Nirenberg said the city will not be restricting any parks and asked that people comply with social distancing measures and mask recommendations.

6:10 p.m. — Watch today's daily briefing

4:35 p.m. — Cases in Bexar County jail continue to drop

Bexar County Sheriff Javier Salazar says COVID-19 positive cases at the jail continue to drop.

According to Salazar, 127 inmates were listed as positive today but recoveries continue to climb.

237 inmates have recovered and more than 2,000 of the 3,000 inmates have been tested. Twenty-seven deputies are currently positive.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines

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