Area hospitals continue to be “stretched to the limit,” with 53 more COVID-19 patients being treated at area hospitals, local officials said Wednesday.

Continuing with a 10 percent average daily increase in patients being admitted for treatment is not sustainable for the local health system, Dr. Bryan Alsip, chief medical officer at University Health System, said at a Wednesday evening briefing.

“We have about two more weeks of these continued rises [before] it’s not sustainable any longer,” Alsip said. “We are doing a good job with our medical team, but they are stretched” and reaching capacity.

One more person has died in Bexar County, for a total of 111, and 439 new cases of coronavirus were confirmed Wednesday, a day after a record-breaking spike of 1,268 new cases Tuesday.

A total of 12,504 people have tested positive. Of the 1,019 patients currently hospitalized, 324 are in intensive care and 175 are on ventilators.

Mayor Ron Nirenberg and Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff said the future of local coronavirus spread lies in the hands of community members, who need to continue to practice social distancing, wear masks, and stay at home when able.

On Saturday, Fourth of July fireworks shows are planned at SeaWorld San Antonio and Six Flags Fiesta Texas. Other shows traditionally held in San Antonio are canceled, and local officials are prohibiting most gatherings of more than 100 people, asking businesses to check customers’ temperatures, and asking businesses to post COVID-19 symptoms in a place that is visible to customers, Wolff said. “[Theme parks] are some of the most dangerous places you could go this weekend.”

On Tuesday, Nirenberg and Wolff said businesses would be required to complete temperature checks, but they rolled that back to a recommendation on Wednesday.

City Attorney Andy Segovia said businesses have no reason to be surprised by the additional measures Bexar County is taking because it’s all outlined by Gov. Greg Abbott in the State’s reopening plan.

“From the very beginning, one of the things that they [asked for was businesses] to conduct temperature checks on all employees and contractors at the beginning of their shift,” Segovia said. “[Businesses] should have already [implemented] a protocol for temperature checking” employees when they get to work.

Nirenberg said a healthy economy starts with having healthy residents, so it’s just as important to protect people’s health as it is to protect businesses from losing income. “The fact that we are being forced to choose … between our economy and our health” is not an easy position to be in, he said.

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Alsip said people need to keep in mind that the concern over hospitalization rates has to do with more than just COVID-19 patients. He said people have to understand it ultimately impacts a person’s ability to receive medical care for whatever ails them.

“Hospitals are pretty close to that base capacity, and all of them are actively working to create more space,” Alsip said.

But ultimately, Nirenberg said, it will take community cooperation to make sure infection and hospitalization rates don’t continue to rise.

“We need everyone to do their part” by wearing masks, social distancing, and limiting interactions to fewer than 10 people, while still wearing a mask, Nirenberg said.

Roseanna Garza

Roseanna Garza

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