San Antonio Reports Travel-Related Coronavirus Case, Bans Gatherings of 500 or More

click to enlarge Metro Health Director Dawn Emerick addresses reporters at a Friday morning news conference. - CITY OF SAN ANTONIO
City of San Antonio
Metro Health Director Dawn Emerick addresses reporters at a Friday morning news conference.
After discovering its first travel-related coronavirus case, San Antonio and Bexar County officials announced a public health emergency, including a ban on events drawing more than 500 people.

The declaration lasts seven days, but could be extended by a council vote to 30 days. The declaration also recommends against holding events that could draw 250 or more people.

"The goal of this effort right now is to ensure that we can continue to contain the spread of this disease in San Antonio," Mayor Ron Nirenberg said at a Friday morning press conference.

The ban will affect events including this weekend's St. Patrick's Day Parade and Tejano Music Awards Fan Fair. At press time, officials were unprepared to say whether Fiesta, the upcoming 10-day citywide party, has been cancelled or delayed.

Officials said the travel-related COVID-19 infection is the first local case unrelated to the those detected among people in federal quarantine at Lackland Air Force Base. The case does not indicate community spread, Metro Health Director Dawn Emerick said at the press conference.

The patient, who tested positive Thursday night, is in quarantine with family. Health officials are investigating whether the patient came into contact with others who are now at risk,
Emerick added.

Metro Health has loosened its restrictions on releasing coronavirus tests. People with virus symptoms should call ahead to make appointments with their own health care providers for a test.

"You have to have symptoms," Emerick said. "This is a diagnostic tool, not a screening tool."

Residents should view the emergency room as a last resort, because visits place staff at risk, Emerick also said.

"If our healthcare workers go down, this becomes a problem," she added.

Other safeguards announced this morning include:
  • An effort to avoid overcrowding Bexar County jail with people booked for minor offenses.
  • A 30-day delay in seating juries at Bexar County courthouse.
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