Bexar County official reported 51 new coronavirus cases Tuesday as the total number of local deaths remained at 39.

Of the 1,080 confirmed COVID-19 cases, 82 people are hospitalized, while 41 are in intensive care and 24 are on ventilators. The decrease of the number of people in intensive care and on ventilators could reflect proper social distancing and prevention methods, said Dawn Emerick, director of the San Antonio Metropolitan Health District.

“All the data is definitely showing that we have really flattened [the curve], and even the latest models … I think I saw where some of that modeling is saying that some of our peak might be toward the end of May,” Emerick said.

Although the area’s supply of hospital beds is still good, Emerick said the plan to build an overflow hospital at the Freeman Coliseum is proceeding.

“You always want to prepare,” Emerick said. “This could be the calm before the storm. We are still preparing.”

Health care providers also have told Metro Health they’ve seen a decline in demand for coronavirus testing, Emerick said. She said she is not sure why, but the trend seems to be occurring across San Antonio. As of Tuesday, 12,811 people have been tested in Bexar County.

“I’m not ready to say it’s because things are slowing down,” Emerick said. “Not at all. But we do need to figure out what that is.”

Earlier Tuesday, local officials announced two more free coronavirus drive-up testing sites would open soon, one in the parking lot of a Westside Walmart Supercenter and another at a Texas MedClinic urgent care center on the South Side.

Metro Health also has been speaking with the Texas National Guard about putting more testing sites in Bexar County, Emerick said, but details have not been finalized. Gov. Greg Abbott announced Monday that he would be deploying more than 1,200 people to provide more access to testing.

“Nothing’s been set in terms of when or in what communities … That’s going to potentially give us three additional … sites with about 150 to 200 tests a day per site,” Emerick said. “That’s remarkable. So that’ll be a really great infusion of testing in our community.”

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Emerick is part of the local COVID-19 Health Transition Team, which is tasked with developing strategies to reopen businesses and activities in San Antonio while continuing to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. The health transition team will deliver its draft plan Monday, while the newly formed COVID-19 Economic Transition Team will deliver its plan on May 1. The economic transition team’s work will be based on the findings of the health transition team, said Mayor Ron Nirenberg, who with Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff appointed people to both teams.

Meanwhile, some of the newly identified COVID-19 cases have occurred at the Bexar County Adult Detention Center. On Tuesday, the Bexar County Sheriff’s Office said one more inmate tested positive for coronavirus, bringing the total number to 29. Two more deputies also tested positive for coronavirus. Twenty-seven deputies have contracted COVID-19, five of whom have recovered and returned to their posts after being medically cleared, the office said in a statement.

Sheriff Javier Salazar told commissioners earlier Tuesday that common areas are being disinfected twice daily and inmates are provided masks to last them each three days. Wolff said he was confident in the policies put in place to prevent coronavirus spread inside the jail, though he acknowledged the Bexar County Adult Detention Facility is not designed in the best way to prevent disease outbreaks

“[Salazar] has some tough things to work with,” Wolff said.

Jackie Wang

Jackie Wang

Jackie Wang is a general assignment reporter at the Rivard Report.