Coronavirus update San Antonio, May 2: Antibody tests deemed ‘unreliable’; 65 more COVID-19 cases confirmed at jail

Bexar County Jail to test all inmates and staff, including asymptomatic people

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 Saturday night. See the full video in the player above.

Here are a few of the highlights:

  • Mayor Nirenberg reported 1,585 COVID-19 cases and 48 deaths in Bexar County, as of Saturday. This was an increase of 108 new cases. Of those, 65 patients are inmates at the Bexar County Jail, bringing the total at the facility to 222 cases.
  • City officials also reported that 725 patients have recovered from COVID-19 so far. Fifty-eight patients are hospitalized, 37 are in the intensive care unit and 20 are on ventilators.
  • Judge Wolff said the number of COVID-19 patients at the Bexar County Jail are expected to continue to rise in the coming days because everyone at the facility is being tested, including all staff members and inmates. That includes asymptomatic people, a new update provided by Wolff Saturday. The inmates that do test positive are separated from others to contain the virus, he said.
  • When asked if anything could have been done sooner to help limit the outbreak at the jail, Judge Wolff said all people at the jail should have been tested, not just those with symptoms. Testing capacity and equipment was a major challenge, though, he said.
  • Now officials know that many of the cases at the jail are occurring in patients without symptoms, part of the reason to expand testing. Wolff said the jail will continue doing daily temperature checks and monitoring everyone for possible symptoms of the virus.
  • Antibody tests are available locally, however, Metro Health Medical Director Dr. Junda Woo said they’re not reliable. There is no data that proves that a person who tests test positive for antibodies of the coronavirus are immune, according to Woo. Because the immunity value of COVID-19 antibodies still isn’t known, and the tests have a high frequency of producing a false positive, rendering them inaccurate in many cases, Woo said she doesn’t recommend residents to get tested for antibodies.
  • Mayor Nirenberg said, for the most part, many have been abiding by social distancing rules and city officials haven’t received too many complaints. He said they do get occasional calls of concerns but overall, “it seems people are taking this very seriously.”
  • Residents were also reminded that if they are experiencing symptoms of the coronavirus to seek testing. City leaders said there are plenty of tests available. For more information on where to get tested, click here.
  • More than half of San Antonio residents have responded to the U.S. Census so far, according to Nirenberg. The statewide self-response rate is 50.3 percent and San Antonio is at 52.1 percent. For more on San Antonio’s Census response, click here.
  • Mayor Nirenberg assured San Antonians that city officials are having daily discussions on what the economic recovery may look like after the coronavirus pandemic runs its course. Nirenberg said aside from looking to return our economy to how it was before the virus outbreak, it’s also important to look into the city’s inequality both before and during the pandemic. He said officials need to come up with ways to provide technology and job training to poor and uneducated people.
  • BiblioTech branches are slated to reopen on May 4 and will provide limited digital and essential services. Details on the reopening can be found here.

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.

Read Bexar County’s updated executive order below. Newsletter recipients: Click here to read the order.

Read San Antonio’s updated executive order below. Newsletter recipients: Click here to read the order.


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