'Didn’t think it would affect me that much’: Bar manager contracts coronavirus after returning to work, calls for crowd regulation

Young adults blamed for spike in COVID-19 cases in Texas

Young adults blamed for spike in COVID-19 cases in Texas

San Antonio – State and local leaders are warning young people to take more precautions as the number of COVID-19 infections spike across the state.

In Bexar County, people ages 20 to 39 make up the largest percentage of cases by age group, with over 2,000 cases, according to the COVID-19 San Antonio website.

Mayor Ron Nirenberg is sounding off the alarm for the entire community to take precautions seriously.

“Younger folks, you’re not immune to this,” Nirenberg said Tuesday. “The number of people ending up in the hospital is rising, and they’re getting younger.”

Gov. Greg Abbott also scolded young adults for the state’s spike.

“People who tested positive since the beginning of June were under the age of 30. It could be a Memorial Day celebration. It could be a bar-type setting,” Abbott said.

Abbott blames 20-somethings for some of the latest increases in coronavirus cases

Bradley Vehrs, a North Side bar manager, said he was not fazed by the threats of being exposed when he returned to work. But last week, he got sick and ended up in the hospital for five days with a 104-degree fever, pneumonia and other symptoms related to COVID-19.

“I just didn't think it would affect me that much. You know, I'm in decent shape. I'm 30 years old. I don't get sick,” he said. “I wanted to go back to work. I needed money.”

Vehrs said he knows about two dozen other people in the bar and service industry that also tested positive. He said he and other workers took the precautions and wore masks and gloves, but when customers aren’t forced to do the same, it doesn’t help.

“Not even a percentage of people wear masks when they go out and party. They don't care that they don't have a clue that it could affect us the way it did,” he said.

Vehrs won’t be returning to work until mid-August. And without health insurance, he’s facing a hospital bill of more than $30,000. That alone, he says, isn’t worth the risk of exposure.

“It's real. It can kill you. The bills that come with it are super expensive,” he said.

Vehrs said he thinks more needs to be done to regulate crowds at bars, even going as far as suggesting that they shut down.

Nirenberg said those types of restrictions would have to come from the governor. Abbott did not indicate if he was going to make that move or make masks mandatory during his Tuesday briefing.

About the Authors:

Patty Santos joined the KSAT 12 News team in July 2017. She has a proven track record of reporting on hard-hitting news that affects the community.

Before starting KSAT in 2017, Lee was a photojournalist at KENS 5, where he won a Lone Star Emmy in 2014 for Best Weather Segment. In 2009 and 2010 Lee garnered first-place awards with the Texas Association of Broadcasters for Best Investigative Series in College Station, as well as winning first place for Staff Photojournalism in 2011 at KBTX.