State requests refrigerated mortuary trucks to set up in San Antonio amid increase in COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations

Trailers were requested as a precaution; no local jurisdictions have requested trailers

San Antonio hospital staff stressed amid COVID-19 surge

SAN ANTONIO – The Department of State Health Services has requested five mortuary trailers to set up in Bexar County as a precaution during the COVID-19 surge.

Authorities with the state health department submitted the request to the Federal Emergency Management Agency through the Texas Division of Emergency Management earlier this month, just as new fatalities in Bexar County began to increase.

The five trailers would be staged in San Antonio to meet any demands across the state. No local jurisdictions have requested the trailers at this point.

“FEMA previously provided this resource for earlier increases in COVID-19 fatalities and has indicated they will be delivered in the next week to two weeks,” a statement from DSHS states.

“We don’t know of any place that needs these now due to COVID, but part of a response is being prepared for what could happen. Knowing that it takes a few weeks for these to arrive, we wanted to go ahead and put the request in.”

The number of COVID-19 deaths in Bexar County has climbed since the beginning of August.

The Metropolitan Health District in San Antonio has confirmed 3,679 deaths as of Monday evening, and 91 deaths are under investigation. Six new deaths were reported Monday, and 38 deaths were reported in the last seven days.

Less than two months ago, there were fewer than 10 deaths in a week.

Another grim factor, hospitalization rates have increased in recent weeks, largely fueled by the more contagious delta variant.

Local officials reported 1,413 hospitalizations on Monday, an increase from 1,299 reported on Friday. Of those hospitalized, 367 are in the ICU and 238 are on ventilators. Only 8% of staffed hospital beds are available.

About 90% of those hospitalizations involve unvaccinated patients, local officials previously said.

Data from the Texas Health and Human Services shows that Bexar County has the second-highest number of active cases among Texas counties with more than 22,100 cases. Harris County has the most active cases at more than 37,300, data shows.

More than 207,200 cases in Texas are still active. As of Monday, more than 53,000 people have died from the virus in Texas.

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Rebecca Salinas joined KSAT in the fall of 2019. Her skills include content management, engagement and reporting.