Bexar County surpassed 500 confirmed coronavirus cases Tuesday as six more people have died after contracting COVID-19, bringing the county’s total to 18, officials said.

The deaths announced Tuesday included five residents of the Southeast Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, where 67 of 84 residents and eight employees were infected in an outbreak. In total, eight nursing home residents have died.

The number of confirmed cases rose by 47 on Tuesday to 503.

“The next few weeks will be difficult,” Mayor Ron Nirenberg said. “As we test more people we are seeing more confirmed cases of COVID-19 – that’s the reality.”

In addition to the nursing home residents, the San Antonio Metropolitan Health District announced the death of a woman in her 60s who had underlying health issues.

City officials said that while officials were made aware of a fourth death at the Southeast Nursing and Rehabilitation Center over the weekend, Metro Health requested the nursing home facility provide a detailed account of all deaths that happened in the facility in recent days. The request followed media interviews with family members who suggested there were additional resident deaths possibly related to coronavirus.

The additional five nursing home deaths were all men and women age 70 or older who were asymptomatic but tested positive for the virus, City officials said in a statement.

The local nursing home outbreak is the largest spread of the virus at a Texas long-term care facility, according to City and County officials.

Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff said that San Antonio has 68 nursing homes, and another 74 operate in the outlying areas of Bexar County. In all, they are home to nearly 14,000 residents.

“It’s important when we see numbers like these for people to understand why we are pushing so hard for social distancing and staying home,” Wolff said at a Tuesday briefing. “We need you to not only think about yourself, but the health of the community.”

In response to media requests, Metro Health on Tuesday reported for the first time the race and ethnicity of people who have tested positive for the coronavirus. 

Of 503 people with confirmed cases, 47 percent (216) were Hispanic, 35 percent (159) were white, and 15 percent (69) were black. According to U.S. Census data, 64 percent of San Antonio’s population is of Hispanic origin, 24 percent is white, and 7 percent is black. 

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In response to the increase in positive cases, Wolff and Nirenberg on Monday announced an extension of the local Stay Home, Work Safe order to April 30 in an effort to slow down community spread of the virus, which outweighs the number of travel-related diagnoses.

In addition to extending the duration of the stay-home order, the executive order prohibits foreclosures and evictions, and closes county offices. In addition, it orders closures for community and school playgrounds, tennis courts, golf courses, skate plazas, splash pads, and all other recreational areas where “social distancing doesn’t work,” Wolff said.

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This article has been updated to correct the number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Bexar County to 503.

Roseanna Garza

Roseanna Garza

Roseanna Garza reports on health and bioscience for the Rivard Report.