WATCH: Officials say log jam of 1,800 COVID-19 tests from federally contracted labs cleared; more results expected soon

Coronavirus update from San Antonio Mayor Nirenberg, Bexar County Judge Wolff 4/17/20

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 Friday night.

Here are a few of the highlights:

  • Nirenberg reported 959 COVID-19 cases and 37 deaths in Bexar County, as of Friday. He said 80 patients are in the hospital, 47 are in intensive care, 25 are on ventilators and 196 have recovered. Forty-eight cases are under investigation. The county has 77% of ventilators available and 34% of beds available.
  • Nirenberg said a fifth San Antonio firefighter has tested positive for COVID-19.
  • Nirenberg said the backlog of 1,800 tests from a federally contracted lab has been cleared. He said San Antonio was not the only city with a backlog from Quest.
  • Dr. Anita Kurian, assistant director of the Communicable Disease Division of the Metropolitan Health District, who joined the mayor and judge tonight, said test result delays from commercial labs are getting smaller. She said results from commercial labs take about 3-5 days, results from Metro Health testing take about 48 hours and hospital labs are producing good turnarounds. She also noted that the volume of tests going to commercial labs was causing delays.
  • Nirenberg reminded residents of the mandatory face covering rule added to both the county and city emergency orders. He said it will take effect Monday, and the public should not use N-95 masks, as first responders and health care workers need them to care for patients.
  • Nirenberg and Wolff said they will announce details about an economic transition team next week. Nirenberg said he was pleased that Gov. Greg Abbott said the first step to reopening the state is to use health data to make good decisions.
  • The mayor said as more data becomes available, it is becoming more apparent that social distancing measures are working.
  • Wolff said he and Nirenberg met with the heads of the four major hospital systems in the areas. He said they are ready to start performing surgeries again once restrictions are lifted next week.
  • Wolff said he agreed with Gov. Greg Abbott’s decisions on non-essential stores and keeping schools closed through the end of the school year.
  • Wolff said he wants to expand COVID-19 testing as the state begins to open up again. He emphasized the use of mandatory face coverings starting Monday to keep the public safe.

WATCH: Bexar County judge provides update on COVID-19 situation at jail

Bexar County judge provides update on COVID-19 situation at jail
  • Wolff talked about the increase of jail inmates who tested positive for COVID-19. He said all 15 inmates are in separate cells, and new inmates are being held in a different location than the general population for 14 days.
  • Wolff said every inmate in the Bexar County Jail was provided a face mask, but they were asked to use them for 2-3 days, as the supply at the jail is limited. He said when the county receives more personal protective equipment, they will try to get inmates a new mask every day. It’s unclear when the county will receive a new shipment of supplies.
  • Wolff said inmates still have daily temperature checks twice a day. He said any inmate that shows signs of the virus will be isolated. He also said he expects to see more inmates test positive for COVID-19.

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.

ADDENDUM TO STAY HOME, WORK SAFE ORDER (Newsletter subscribers, click here to view.)

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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.