Coronavirus update San Antonio, May 7: Officials discuss new walk-up testing sites in San Antonio

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

Here are a few of the highlights:

  • Nirenberg reported 1,805 COVID-19 cases and 54 deaths in Bexar County, as of Thursday. Two new cases were confirmed at the Bexar County Jail and 42 in the community.
  • City officials also reported that 63 patients are hospitalized, 38 are in the intensive care unit and 21 are on ventilators.
  • Nirenberg said there has been a lot of discussion over the recovery of San Antonio and Bexar County’s economies. He said the City Council has discussed a strategy to keep people from losing their homes and get workers trained with how to deal with COVID-19 in the workforce.
  • The mayor reminded residents of the two new walk-up testing sites that have popped up. He said the tests are free and do not require an appointment. Read more about the sites by clicking here.

WATCH: Officials discuss first day of walk-up COVID-19 testing site launch

Officials discuss first day of walk-up COVID-19 testing site launch
  • Dr. Dawn Emerick, director of the Metropolitan Health District, said while anyone who is asymptomatic can get tested at the walk-up sites, a recent health advisory expanded priority for asymptomatic people in marginalized communities and communities of color. She said the walk-up sites are operating on a first come, first-served bases.
  • Emerick said the testing was opened up to asymptomatic people as a way to eliminate barriers for people to get tested. She said that officials learned that as more supplies became available, some testing criteria had become barriers for people, bringing demand down.
  • Emerick said Metro Health did not anticipate so much demand at the new walk-up testing sites on Thursday because demand had gone down. She said both sites probably reached capacity of 150 tests today. “We’ll be better tomorrow," she said.
  • Emerick said testing asymptomatic people was done previously only in congregate settings, such as nursing homes or the jail. She said she’s curious to see the results of what it will be like to test asymptomatic people in the general public.
  • Testing is expected to increase at the walk-up sites, Emerick said. She noted that the sites were strategically placed where there are health care provider deserts.
  • Wolff discussed a breakdown of how the county is using federal funds to restart the economy. He said the Commissioners Court may take some action next Thursday to address the issue of voting amid the pandemic since many elections judges in the county are in their 70s.
  • Nirenberg said the Health Transition Team will provide guidance to leaders on when city-owned pools can reopen safely.

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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About the Authors:

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.

Steven Cavazos is a traffic anchor and general assignments reporter in the weekday mornings at KSAT 12.