Two more Bexar County residents have died of the coronavirus as the number of residents testing positive continues to rise.
Bexar County’s death toll from the virus reached five as of late Thursday, with 113 people testing positive, according to the San Antonio Metropolitan Health District. That’s up from three deaths and 84 positive results on Wednesday.
Both of those confirmed dead Thursday were women with underlying health conditions, according to City officials. One was in her 40s; the other in her 60s.
Both of the patients died after being treated at downtown hospitals, according to hospital system spokeswomen. One was treated at Methodist Metropolitan and the other at Baptist Medical Center.
The three who died earlier this week were a woman in her 80s being treated at Brooke Army Medical Center, a 50-year-old woman being treated at Mission Trail Baptist Hospital, and Laurie Ramirez, a 44-year-old employee of St. Luke’s Catholic Church, which dedicated a mass to Ramirez on Wednesday.
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San Antonio’s continued rise in coronavirus cases comes as the U.S. surpassed China and Italy for the total number of cases, according to a tracking map by Johns Hopkins University. The U.S. as of late Thursday had more than 82,000 cases and more than 1,000 deaths.
In Texas, nearly 1,400 people have tested positive, according to the Department of State Health Services, which this week streamlined its data gathering and reporting from local health departments and private laboratories. Eighteen people have died of the coronavirus in Texas, as of late Thursday.
Across the state, nearly 21,500 people have been tested, according to DSHS. Data are not currently available on how many Bexar County residents have been tested. Metro Health has processed 526 coronavirus tests in its lab for a 28-county region known as Region 8.
This week, Metro Health launched a new screening tool meant to help residents determine if they should be tested for coronavirus. Officials have said the tool will also help them gather data on potential hotspots in San Antonio.
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On Thursday, City Council members extended the shutdown measures meant to slow the spread of the virus to avoid overwhelming the health care system. City Council voted unanimously to extend through April 9 the City’s stay-at-home order, which requires residents to stay indoors except when seeking medical care, shopping for groceries or supplies, or exercising outdoors, among other exempted activities. Bexar County’s identical order already extends through April 9.
As with many countries where the virus is spreading, most of the U.S. is under some form of government restriction to slow the global pandemic. This week, the International Monetary Fund said the crisis is leading to a global recession.
In Texas alone, applications for unemployment insurance skyrocketed 860 percent for the week ending in March 21, compared to the previous week. Among the hardest-hit have been food service industries, tourism, hospitality, and retail.
Late Wednesday, the U.S. Senate unanimously passed a $2 trillion stimulus package, the largest in U.S. history. The package includes $250 billion in direct payments made to individuals and families, $250 billion for unemployment insurance, $350 billion for small business loans, and $500 billion in rescue funds for large industries. The House is likely to approve the bill on Friday.
Epidemiologists have said that widespread testing for the disease when it reached U.S. shores could have limited the need for extreme social distancing measures.
However, now that the contagion is spreading rapidly, many health experts are calling for social distancing measures to continue for months to avoid overwhelming the health care system, as is happening in cities such as New York and Seattle.