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Coronavirus cases jumped by 71 on Wednesday, bringing the Bexar County total to 2,953 cases.
The increase could be partially attributed to a backlog in coronavirus tests, but also to businesses reopening and with more capacity, said Anita Kurian, assistant director of the San Antonio Metropolitan Health District.
“It is less [of an increase] than what we thought we might see, which leads us to believe that folks are still complying with the health recommendations that we have been putting out,” she said.
Three more people died from the coronavirus, bringing the total number of deaths in Bexar County to 78, Nirenberg said. One woman died at Northeast Baptist Hospital and had been a resident of the Rio at Mission Trails nursing home. Another woman had been a resident at the PAM Specialty Hospital, and a man died at Methodist Hospital. All three were in their 60s.
Ninety COVID-19 patients were in area hospitals Wednesday, 37 of which were in intensive care and 21 were on ventilators.
Local officials expect to see higher numbers of coronavirus cases in future weeks, as Gov. Greg Abbott announced the third phase of reopening the Texas economy. In his executive order issued Wednesday, Abbott gave all businesses currently operating with 25 percent of their capacities the ability to welcome up to 50 percent of their occupancy limits, though patrons at bars must be seated to be served. Amusement parks and carnivals in counties with fewer than 1,000 residents may open for up to 50 percent of their capacities, as well.
The City and County stay-at-home orders expire on June 4, and neither entity will issue new ones, Mayor Ron Nirenberg said.
“With regard to activities that are open, we’re no longer in that stay-home phase that we were in a couple of months ago,” he said.
City Attorney Andy Segovia reminded Bexar County and San Antonio residents that the governor’s order still applies to them, despite no more local orders being issued. For example, the governor limits gatherings to 10 people in Wednesday’s executive order. But there are now very few activities that would not be acceptable under Abbott’s order, Nirenberg said.
“The staying home moniker really doesn’t apply anymore,” he said.
The loosening of restrictions does not mean no rules for businesses, Segovia said.
“It’s still in the governor’s order all open businesses still must follow the [Department of State Health Services] guidance, the health protocols, and they need to substantially comply with those as they open,” he said.
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Wednesday also marked the fifth day of protesting in San Antonio in honor of George Floyd, a black man who died May 25 after a white police officer knelt on his neck in Minneapolis. Protesters began demonstrating at 3 p.m. on Wednesday at the San Antonio Public Safety headquarters and continued into the evening hours. Though San Antonians have the right to protest, Kurian cautioned protesters to continue following health guidelines to prevent coronavirus transmission.
“If you’re not adhering to the preventive measures that we’ve been recommending – which is practice social distancing, use your face coverings, or touching your face frequently – if you don’t do that, we do expect to see an increase in infection rates, maybe sometime down the road in few weeks or so, especially because we do have communitywide transmission going on here,” she said.
Testing demand continues to be well below testing supply; between 900 and 1,500 people are tested a day in Bexar County, while the county can perform nearly 4,000 tests per day, Kurian said.