Coronavirus update San Antonio, July 16: Major backlog in COVID-19 case numbers due to miscommunication after lab switch, officials say

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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.

Here are a few of the highlights:

  • Nirenberg reported 27,047 total COVID-19 cases and 229 total deaths in Bexar County, as of Thursday, an increase of 691 new cases. Twenty-one new deaths were reported today.
  • The mayor reported there was a backlog of 4,810 cases due to a miscommunication error after the city switched testing labs on July 6. “We’ve seen a number of these backlogs happen,” he said. “We want to make sure that we’re consistent.”
Why Texas removed probable COVID-19 cases from Bexar County's numbers
Why Texas removed probable COVID-19 cases from Bexar County's numbers
  • Nirenberg said 10 of the new deaths reported today were from nursing homes.
  • City officials also reported that 1,202 patients are hospitalized, 430 are in the intensive care unit and 277 are on ventilators. There are 12% of staffed beds available and 46% of ventilators available.
  • Wolff said hospital numbers have gone down from 1,267 people to 1,202 people in the last four days.
  • Nirenberg discussed the discrepancy between the state and Bexar County regarding probable cases. He said those who get a PCR or antigen test and test positive have COVID-19. “Probable cases in San Antonio are just the positive antigen tests,” Nirenberg said. “The only tests that we count positive are PCR tests and antigen tests.”
  • Metropolitan Health District Medical Director Dr. Junda Woo said the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention does count antigen tests in its statistics. “These are people who are really positive and should be treated as such,” Woo said about those who test positive after undergoing an antigen test.
  • Nirenberg said due to the backlog of case data, the average daily COVID-19 rate was higher over the past two weeks than what was reported. He said he was informed about the reporting issue on Wednesday. He explained that after the city switched testing labs, the new cases were electronically going into a folder that Metro Health wasn’t aware of.
Backlog of cases explanation from Metro Health, COSA (COSA)
  • Nirenberg said politicization has become the most challenging aspect of the city and county’s response to the virus. He said there are people at the state and federal who are trying to downplay the severity of the data.
  • Wolff said Bexar County Sheriff Javier Salazar will join the panel on Friday to discuss the COVID-19 response at the jail. Currently, there are a total of 76 positives at the jail, 21 of which are symptomatic, Wolff said.
  • Woo said Metro Health’s new task force met today to discuss guidance on reopening schools in the near future. She said the task force is a diverse group with parents, teachers, students, doctors and administrators, among other community members.

Track daily spikes in COVID-19 cases in San Antonio, Bexar County

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