Local progress and warning indicators related to the coronavirus pandemic are looking positive overall, said Mayor Ron Nirenberg during Saturday’s news briefing.
Nirenberg and Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff focused the day’s news briefing on these indicators, which include the local doubling rate of virus cases, the rate of positive cases, and others. Giving the Metro Health Department’s data team the weekend off after 115 days, no new case numbers were presented during the daily briefing. New case data will be presented Monday and will be broken down by day, Nirenberg said.
Progress and warning indicators tell officials how San Antonio is doing as a community in terms of containing COVID-19 and help relay when would be a good time to start moving into opening more services and activities, Nirenberg said.
The City of San Antonio website keeps track of these indicators, and data that is currently trending well, he said. He indicated that one of the progress indicators, a 14-day decline in the number of cases, is on a good track.
In terms of warning indicators, officials want to make sure the local doubling rate is widening, Nirenberg said. When the onset of the virus first happened in San Antonio, the average doubling rate was three days, meaning the number of positive cases doubled every few days. Today, the rate is every four weeks, or 28 days, he said.
“That is continuing even as we’ve expanded testing,” Nirenberg said. “I do want to make note that we are continuing aggressive testing. To this point we’ve had 40,681 tests administered here in the city of San Antonio and we continue to increase capacity.”
As of Friday, 2,120 people had tested positive for coronavirus in Bexar County since March 13. Of those 2,120 people, 62 have died and 1,071 have recovered.
While case numbers were not available Saturday, new hospital numbers were. Currently there are 66 residents in local hospitals because of the virus, 29 of those hospitalized are in intensive care and 14 are on ventilators.
As of Friday, more than 400 Bexar County Sheriff’s Office employees and Bexar County jail inmates had contracted the virus. Of the inmates tested, only 73 had symptoms, Wolff said Saturday, while 319 were asymptomatic. Currently no inmates are in the hospital, and only 15 are in the jail infirmary, he said.
Jennifer Herriott, assistant director of San Antonio Metro Health, and Veronica Soto, director of the Neighborhood Housing Services Department, joined Nirenberg and Wolff for Saturday evening’s daily briefing.
As of Friday morning more than 7,300 residents had applied for housing assistance, Soto said. That number is expected to hit 10,000 next week, she added. Soto encouraged anyone in need of housing assistance to apply.
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“Over the week we hit the request for half the money, so we have $13 million in requests and we continue to process them as quickly as we can,” she said.
Wolff said he and Nirenberg are preparing for Gov. Greg Abbott’s expected announcement Monday which will likely start the reopening of bars and other businesses.
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Both Wolff and Nirenberg said while they understand it might be confusing to San Antonio residents which health guidelines to follow when receiving mixed messages from the federal, state, and local governments, they still urge residents to wear face masks.
“The CDC is clear, they want people to wear masks, we want businesses to encourage – if not require – masks, and want people to take this seriously,” Nirenberg said. “If we don’t, we will see the virus spread and the number of cases accelerate and the number of deaths accelerate, which would lead to us going backwards and closing business down. We want to go back to normal, so let’s do what the health officials say.”