San Antonio confirmed its first COVID-19 case one year ago, marking the first in Texas

At the time, Mayor Ron Nirenberg said the risk remained ‘low’

San Antonio (Illustration by Henry Keller)
San Antonio (Illustration by Henry Keller) (KSAT)

SAN ANTONIOEditor’s note: This story is a look back at some of the biggest developments of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. See a full timeline here.

Texas’ first case of the new coronavirus was discovered right here in San Antonio one year ago Friday — back when there were only 15 confirmed COVID-19 cases throughout the U.S.

The patient was an American evacuee from Wuhan, China, where the disease first originated and was already under quarantine at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland.

Officials from the Centers for Disease Control and the City of San Antonio announced the first infection on Feb. 13, 2020, but told news outlets that the positive results were confirmed at 6 p.m. Feb. 12.

The video below shows KSAT’s coverage from Feb. 13, 2020, the day the first virus case was announced in San Antonio.

SA coronavirus patient being treated at Methodist Hospital Texsan, officials say
SA coronavirus patient being treated at Methodist Hospital Texsan, officials say

The patient first came down with a fever the day prior and was transported to Methodist Hospital Texsan in Balcones Heights.

At the time, Mayor Ron Nirenberg said the risk remained relatively “low,” as no one in the U.S. has died due to the virus.

“The collaboration between our local, state and federal partners is working as it was designed,” he said in a news release. “We will continue to work together to protect our community from exposure to the virus.”

View the video below to view how San Antonio hospitals said they prepared for the onset of COVID-19.

Coronavirus preparedness after first case reported in San Antonio
Coronavirus preparedness after first case reported in San Antonio

The patient was among the 91 Americans who were evacuated for the fear of possibly having contracted the virus in China. They arrived via plane on Feb. 7, 2020, and touched down at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland.

After the plane arrived, the CDC reassured the city that a 14-day quarantine would be in place to protect the safety and health of the passengers and San Antonio residents.

In a news conference on Feb. 7, Jennifer McQuiston, the deputy director of the CDC’s Division of High Consequence Pathogens and Pathology, said they did not “find any evidence of illness among the passengers who landed here today.”

Lackland later saw the arrival of passengers from the Diamond Princess and Grand Princess cruise ships, which were docked off the coast of Japan and the Port of Oakland, respectively.

Grand Princess cruise ship evacuees arrive at JBSA-Lackland on March 10, 2020. (KSAT)

Of the 387 evacuees who quarantined at the base, 15 tested positive for COVID-19. All were eventually medically cleared and on March 25, the last of the evacuees left San Antonio.

By that week, the virus had achieved community transmission in San Antonio, but Bexar County Health officials don’t believe any of the cases in the community resulted from the evacuees’ stay here, despite the temporary premature release of one evacuee who had tested positive for the virus.

Fast forward to this week, the virus has infected more than 185,440 people in Bexar County and has resulted in 2,365 deaths.

The first known cases of the COVID-19 B.1.1.7 variant were detected in two area residents on Tuesday.

The UK variant, identified as B.1.1.7, is known to spread more quickly and easily than others, according to the CDC.

Two cases of the UK variant were also confirmed in Comal County this week.

As of Thursday, the virus has claimed more than 473, 000 lives in the U.S. — about 80% of those patients were 65 and older.

The national vaccine rollout is now two months in, and the federal government had distributed 46.4 million vaccine doses to states and other jurisdictions.

However, the race to inoculate older Americans remains heightened as officials brace for the grim death toll of 500,000 less than a year after the shutdowns first began.

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About the Author:

Rebecca Salinas has worked as a digital journalist in San Antonio for six years. Her skills include content management, engagement and reporting.