Hours after San Antonio officials told the public to expect “extraordinarily high” COVID-19 numbers on Tuesday, Bexar County added 1,268 cases, bringing the total number of cases to 12,065.
One new death was reported, bringing the death toll to 110. The latest victim was a Hispanic man in his 80s.
Even more concerning for local health experts, hospitalizations continued to rise. A total of 966 people are hospitalized, Mayor Ron Nirenberg said Tuesday, and capacity of staffed hospital beds dwindled to 23%.
“This is an extraordinarily dangerous time,” Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff said.
Like in San Antonio, COVID-19 is spreading rapidly throughout the state of Texas, threatening hospital capacity in eight Texas counties.
Last week, Texas. Gov. Greg Abbott banned elective procedures in Bexar, Dallas, Harris and Travis counties. On Tuesday, he added Cameron, Hidalgo, Nueces and Webb counties to the list.
“I want to remind all Texans that each of us have a responsibility to help slow the spread of this virus, and I urge everyone to wear a mask, wash their hands regularly, practice social distancing, and stay home if possible,” Abbott wrote in a press release.
The following is a breakdown of Tuesday’s city and county briefing, which you can see in the video player above:
- Nirenberg said Tuesday’s total case count was 50% higher than last week, and the area continues to see a 10% jump in hospitalizations every day.
- Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff said businesses will have to start following new guidelines on Thursday that include asking customers health screening questions and performing temperature checks. (See the order below. Newsletter recipients can click here to see the order.)
- Nirenberg and Wolff have sent a letter to Abbott to ask for more authority as cases and hospitalizations surge in Bexar County. An announcement from Abbott is expected this week, according to the leaders. “We’re not trying to shut down the economy,” Wolff said.
- Dr. Colleen Bridger, interim director of the Metropolitan Health District and assistant city manager, said contact tracing is becoming more difficult. She said the process will be less effective the longer it takes to trace cases.
- Bridger asked those who test positive to tell those they came into contact with to get those people isolated. She said the surge can be attributed in part to those who are not isolated while waiting for test results and coming into close contact with people you know who are positive.
- Bridger said hospital staff from out of the state are coming to the area to help with the surge. “We’re preparing for a shortage of beds,” she said.
WATCH: San Antonio mayor updates emergency order to include new business guidelines