WATCH: Nirenberg, Wolff announce new health committee to advise leaders when to reopen San Antonio, Bexar County

Coronavirus update from San Antonio Mayor Nirenberg, Bexar County Judge Wolff 4/15/20

SAN ANTONIOEditor’s Note: Watch the entire briefing in the video player above. Newsletter recipients can click here to access the video.

San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg and Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff updated the community about the local response to COVID-19 in their daily briefing Wednesday night.

Here are a few of the highlights:

  • Nirenberg reported 890 COVID-19 cases and 37 deaths in Bexar County, as of Wednesday. He said 77 patients are in the hospital, 50 are in intensive care, 36 are on ventilators and 147 have recovered. Forty-one cases are under investigation. The county has 72% of ventilators available and 44% of beds available.
  • Nirenberg and Wolff talked about how the community and local businesses are stepping up in the fight against COVID-19. They talked about how Toyota is manufacturing face shields for health care workers.
  • Wolff said a new health committee will be announced Thursday. He said the committee will help leaders interpret data to figure out when and how to reopen the city and county. He also said reopening cannot happen smoothly, however, without more aid from the federal government for testing kits.
  • Wolff said he found out about new allegations from a local offical against Southeast Nursing and Rehabilitation this morning. He said he called on health officials to investigate the claims.
  • Metropolitan Health Director Dr. Dawn Emerick said her team went out with a Texas Health and Human Services team, which investigated claims made by the official at Southeast Nursing and Rehabilitation. She said the teams found no staff shortages, with 15 nurses on shift at the time of the visit. She also said the investigators interviewed 100% of the patients and found out they had all been fed properly, and that the nurses on staff were able to eat food from the facility or bring their own.
  • Emerick said it’s not possible to send the patients from Southeast Nursing and Rehabilitation to the Texas Center for Infectious Disease because it is a state-run facility. She also said Metro Health does not regulate or investigate nursing homes.
  • The leaders talked about new forecast models on the city’s website. They said the models will change frequently, and the dates and figures that are projected are only one piece of data in a number of factors needed to determine when the county and city can reopen. Emerick said this is why the new health committee is important -- to interpret the data needed and inform leaders on the best measures to take.
  • Nirenberg said the city and county are partnering with other Texas metropolitan areas and the governor to figure out the best time to start reopening the region. He said officials are also looking at what other cities are doing as they start to reopen.
  • Emerick said there is a lag in results coming in for people who got tested at pre-approved testing sites. She said anyone having issues getting their results should call the Metro Health hotline at 210-207-5779, so that they can get help navigating in the process to get their results quicker.
  • Nirenberg reminded the community to fill out the 2020 census. He said only 52.6% of Bexar County has filled it out.

COVID-19, the respiratory disease caused by the new virus, stands for coronavirus disease 2019. The disease first appeared in late 2019 in Wuhan, China, but spread around the world in early 2020, causing the World Health Organization to declare a pandemic in March.

County executive order in effect until April 30:

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About the Author:

Ivan Herrera has worked as a journalist in San Antonio since 2016. His work for KSAT 12 and KSAT.com includes breaking news, COVID-19 coverage, personal finance stories on the "Money: It's Personal" series, as well as producing Q&As and content for the "South Texas Pride" series.