As local officials reported a 46-case increase in the number of people with the coronavirus in Bexar County on Monday, County Judge Nelson Wolff said local officials are extending the Stay Home, Work Safe order to April 30.
He cited an increase in the number of community-spread cases. Bexar County had 456 confirmed cases – up from 410 on Sunday – with 153 cases attributed to close contact with someone who already tested positive for the novel coronavirus. The number of cases attributed to community spread “is what is most significant about these numbers,” said Mayor Ron Nirenberg said.
No additional deaths were reported Monday, and of those diagnosed, 77 have fully recovered, Nirenberg said.
“What we are hoping is that we will reach the high points [of positive cases] probably not this week but next,” Wolff said. “Data is showing that we are doing quite well with social distancing measures.”
Nirenberg also issued a new recommendation that anyone age 5 and older wear a face mask if they leave their home to minimize the spread of the virus.
In addition to extending the duration of the stay-home order, the executive order prohibits foreclosures and evictions, and closes county offices. In addition, it orders closures for community and school playgrounds, tennis courts, golf courses, skate plazas, splash pads, and all other recreational areas where “social distancing doesn’t work,” Wolff said.
People entering County offices will undergo temperature checks to ensure their body temperature is less than 100.5 degrees.
Nirenberg and Wolff said the change in the executive order and recommendations for face masks for all people engaging in essential business came from the San Antonio Metropolitan Health District, which is taking its lead from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The order previously had been in place through April 9.
Nirenberg said that while masks are a recommendation, City and County officials are asking the public to use cloth masks, not the N-95 masks used by health care workers.
“We don’t want people to think they need surgical masks,” Nirenberg said. “Not only would that take away from the hospital supplies, but it could also give people a false sense of security” that social distancing isn’t necessary.
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Wolff said the masks are meant to address the number of asymptomatic carriers that might unknowingly spread the virus.
“We are doing well with social distancing but we are on the front end of the curve, not the back end,” Nirenberg said. “We haven’t seen the worst of what is going to happen here in San Antonio.”
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Nirenberg said 450 calls were made to the City’s COVID-19 hotline Sunday by people completing the self-screening and being referred for testing based on symptoms. Out of those calls, 360 appointments for COVID-19 tests were made.
Many of those people have been tested as of Monday, Nirenberg said. “But as we continue to test we are going to get more and more clarity about the situation,” he said.