COVID-19 recovery rates show promise in San Antonio

30% of patients who test positive recover in Bexar County

COVID-19 recovery rates show promise in San Antonio

SAN ANTONIO – The amount of people recovering from COVID-19 in Bexar County is growing every day, and that has doctors and nurses around Bexar County cheering.

Officials said that about 30% of people who have tested positive for COVID-19 in Bexar County have recovered. The statistic is reassuring considering the high death rates reported in other parts of the world.

There are lots of theories circulating about why that is happening , including how much advance notice San Antonio had on the virus that gave the medical community time to implement social distancing rules and to prepare medical personnel on containment measures.

Dr. Diego Maselli, medical director at University Hospital, said the early groundwork for the success in Bexar County was laid out more than a month ago before a positive case was reported locally.

“We have done a lot of learning, and [have been] reading a lot of communications with our colleagues from Italy, China and Spain and obviously New York," Maselli said.

Local researchers studying heart damage in COVID-19 patients

University Hospital staff early on began meeting, sharing, and plotting with the new and ever-changing information. Theories reported in China and then carried through to the outbreak in New York, helped mold protocols in San Antonio in rapid fashion.

For example, ventilators were being used initially as the first line of defense for those with breathing issues, but not now.

“I think we have other tools that can give us a little bit of wiggle room before we pull the trigger on the ventilator, since sometimes it’s difficult to get rid of the ventilator," Maselli said.

In fact, there’s a growing body of evidence that early use of ventilators on COVID-19 patients may further complicate their condition. There is an understanding now that using a ventilator early on could be the reason some patients never recover.

Another reason for the success is that local medical personnel have not had the heavy case load of other COVID-19 hot spots, which allows each patient in Bexar County to get more personalized and concentrated attention. The quality of care is allowing doctors to give it the “full court press.” But the downside to that is with so much therapy being applied, it complicates defining exactly the reason why the patient is getting better.

Only time will tell whether local recovery rates will continue to show promise, but Maselli points to new drug therapies being tried in San Antonio that were not even on the hospital floor for coronavirus patients one month ago.

University Hospital conducts mock drills, erects triage tents to prepare for possible patient surge in San Antonio

Maselli is optimistic about the future, provided we keep up the good work.

“I think key to success for these patients and for San Antonio and Texas and really the whole country and world is to continue practicing social distancing," he said.

COVID-19, the respiratory disease caused by the new virus, stands for coronavirus disease 2019. The disease first appeared in late December 2019 in Wuhan, China, but spread around the world in early 2020, causing the World Health Organization to declare a pandemic in March. The first case confirmed in the U.S. was in mid-January and the first case confirmed in San Antonio was in mid-February.


About the Author:

Ursula Pari has been a staple of television news in Texas at KSAT 12 News since 1996 and a veteran of broadcast journalism for more than 30 years.