More than 70 percent of Bexar County’s 40,000 coronavirus cases came in July – a month in which San Antonio’s COVID-19 outbreak was at its worst, officials have said.

At the time, the 1,268 cases recorded on June 30 marked the highest daily increase, but daily increases in the thousands have persisted ever since. More than 33,000 new coronavirus cases were reported in July, which had eight days of 1,000-plus new cases.

On Friday, 550 new cases brought the local caseload to 40,803. 

The staggering numbers are in stark contrast to the previous month which began with just nine cases reported on June 1. But by the end of that month, 9,226 cases had been documented.

Officials said the June-to-July spike has been followed by a gradual decline, and if people continue to wear masks and practice social distancing, August could bring good news regarding local case counts. 

What Bexar County is seeing in its numbers is on par with what is happening throughout the state and the nation, said Dr. Junda Woo, San Antonio Metropolitan Health District’s medical director, but even as numbers go down after the July spike, it is important for people to keep in mind that they need to continue to abide by safety measures. 

Especially as school returns this fall, residents should not let up because numbers are improving, Woo said. Locals let their guard down in April after officials said numbers were improving, she said. 

In April, when there were just over 1,000 confirmed COVID-19 cases, then-Metro Health Director Dawn Emerick said Bexar County was “flattening the curve,” keeping the total number of positives down to the point where it was manageable by the local hospital system. 

Fast-forward two months, and the hospital system is under severe stress, with 926 people currently being treated for symptoms of COVID-19 at area hospitals, of which 364 are in intensive care, and 252 are on ventilators. 

Two more people died, officials reported Friday, bringing the toll to 349. 

Mayor Ron Nirenberg said although hospitals continue to see a positive trend, significant, uncontrolled community spread remains throughout San Antonio and Bexar County.

Ages and ethnic backgrounds of deceased

2 white women ranging in age from 60 to 79

Cases among young people continue to rise, Nirenberg said, with resident under 18 years old accounting for 12 percent of total cases locally, up one percent from last week. 

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The seven-day rolling average is at 839 cases per day, Nirenberg said, but officials are hopeful “things will turn and we will see an improvement for schools to open” come September following several weeks of virtual instruction. 

“People should be encouraged that if we work together on physical distancing, avoiding big crowds, and wearing masks, that we will see this get under control,” Nirenberg said. “But it’s going to take consistent and sustained effort to actually get it under control, especially when there’s again no proven therapeutics or vaccine available yet.”

Roseanna Garza

Roseanna Garza

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