‘I would not shut down the city,‘: Judge Wolff says as COVID-19 cases continue to surge in San Antonio

Heightened case numbers from Saturday could be due to Fourth of July celebrations, Wolff says

SAN ANTONIO – With more than 1,100 new COVID-19 cases confirmed in San Antonio and Bexar County in just one day and the death toll number continuing to rise, Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff says he’s still against shutting down the city.

Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff joined Leading SA on Sunday, discussing what needs to be done to help the Alamo City combat the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I would not shut down the city, but I would take all those 13 exceptions to mass gatherings and eliminate a lot of those exceptions. You know, run the gamut of sports fans, of church services; a number of different other gatherings that are taking place,” Wolff said.

This is an incredibly tough time for local businesses and workers, but Wolff said city and county officials are still working to help them stay afloat.

“We’re doing everything we can to help them. I think it’s extremely important that they hold on. We have distributed over a million masks now, free to the businesses so that they will be able to have them at their business for their own employees, as well as people that might come in and have a mask with them,” Wolff said. “We’ve given them all the personal protective equipment that they need several different times. We had distributed that and we’ve made some. We’re now close to 350 grants and loans to small businesses are mounting. I think we put in a total of about $10 million in Bexar County funds.”

Wolff and Mayor Ron Nirenberg are working closely with state leaders amid the COVID-19 crisis. However, Wolff did have some choice words for Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick.

“Well, he’s in a world all by himself. I happen to turn 80-years-old this year in October. I’m nowhere near dying, nor do I want to die. So I don’t think I’m going to sacrifice my life so that somebody else can make a little more money,” Wolff said.

Wolff also discussed the discrepancies in the positive COVID-19 test numbers that were announced earlier this week. On Thursday, Mayor Nirenberg reported there was a backlog of 4,810 cases due to a miscommunication error after the city switched testing labs on July 6. However, the city says the communication issues have since been resolved and the numbers are now up to date.

“The state does not report the antigen test. The CDC says report it. So there’s conflicting information on that. So, we began to separate out the antigen test. We think they’re accurate... but you get in line with state issues,” Wolff said.

The good news is that so far, the area has seen a downward trend in hospitalizations, according to Judge Wolff. However, with the significant jump in cases, it’s unclear if that will continue.

“Well, usually you like to say a couple of weeks of a downward trend. We’re seeing right now about a four, five day downward trend in terms of people that are going into the hospital, which is a good sign that we’re having less people go in. But there’s several different things you need to look at,” Wolff said. “We’re still having a lot of cases — probably seeing a little bit of a bump up now from the July 4th weekend.”

We asked Wolff if there was a breaking point, where if COVID-19 numbers reach a certain height, if local leaders would consider implementing stronger restrictions.

“I don’t think that’s going to happen,” Wolff said.

The full interview with Judge Wolff can be viewed in the video player above.

Read also:

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

Bexar County reports thousands of backlogged COVID-19 cases, 691 new cases

Man in his 20s with ‘unknown medical history’ loses battle with COVID-19 in San Antonio, officials say

About the Authors:

Cody King is a digital journalist for KSAT 12. She previously worked for WICS/WRSP 20 in Springfield, Illinois.

Max Massey is the GMSA weekend anchor and a general assignments reporter. Max has been live at some of the biggest national stories out of Texas in recent years, including the Sutherland Springs shooting, Hurricane Harvey and the manhunt for the Austin bomber. Outside of work, Max follows politics and sports, especially Penn State, his alma mater.