SAN ANTONIO (KTSA News / Elizabeth Ruiz) -The surge in COVID-19 cases continues in Bexar County with 436 more positive cases reported Tuesday. That’s the largest single-day increase since the pandemic started.
“It is by far, the worst crisis we’ve had since this started,” said Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff.
Mayor Ron Nirenberg says we shouldn’t use the reopening of the economy as an excuse to throw out COVID-19 safety measures.
“We need everyone to keep their physical distance. Don’t host large gatherings. Wear a mask if you’re within 6 feet of someone,” said Nirenberg.
The number of coronavirus patients in hospitals has more than doubled since June first. Tuesday’s total was 212. Eighty-two-are in intensive care, and 41 are on ventilators, but Nirenberg says local hospital capacity remains in stable condition.
Two-hundred-fifty beds are available at Freeman Expo Hall in case local hospitals are overburdened by COVID-19 patients. No coronavirus patients would be taken to the field hospital, but other patients with minor ailments or injuries would be transported there to make room at hospitals for COVID-19 patients.
On Tuesday, the mayors of Texas’ nine largest cities, including Nirenberg, called on Gov. Greg Abbott to allow local municipalities to mandate face masks in public.
“While it’s important to get our economy working again, we must also take precautions to avoid a massive influx of new cases
overwhelming our hospitals,” the mayors wrote. “That’s why we are writing to you today about one of the best ways to keep businesses open and people safe from COVID-19: the wearing of face masks.”
The letter further states that a “one-size-fits-all approach” is not the best option.
“This one step could prove to be the most effective way to
prevent the transmission of this disease, yet many people in many of our cities are still refusing to wear these face coverings even though these coverings are scientifically proven to help prevent the disease from spreading,” the mayors wrote.
They want the authority to set rules and regulations on the use of face coverings in each city.
“If you do not have plans to mandate face coverings statewide, we ask that you restore the ability for local authorities to enforce the wearing of face coverings in public venues where physical distancing cannot be practiced,” they wrote in the letter.
Last week, Wolff sent a similar letter to the governor, and Abbott responded that such a mandate would “deprive someone of their liberty.” At a news conference Tuesday, the governor stressed the importance of face masks and he urged Texans to wear them to keep the virus from spreading, but he doubled down on his decision to not make it a requirement, saying it’s wrong to throw somebody in jail or fine them for not wearing a mask.
When the pandemic started, San Antonio and Bexar County made the wearing of masks mandatory with a fine of up to $1,000 for violators, but Governor Abbott later overturned those restrictions, saying it’s wrong to throw someone in jail or fine them for not wearing a face covering.