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Bexar County exploring changes to promote safety, stability amid coronavirus

Bexar County officials spoke Wednesday morning to give residents an update on procedure changes being made in response to coronavirus.

SAN ANTONIO — Update: Bexar County Commissioner's Court approved to extend the initial emergency declaration passed last Friday for another 90 days. 

Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff announced that he would be requesting the County Commissioner's Court to increase his powers as judge in order to extend the county's emergency declaration for another 30 days. 

During a Wednesday morning news conference with other county leaders, Wolff stated that various sites will begin testing potential coronavirus patients. He explained that as increased testing becomes available, it is likely that more positive cases of coronavirus will be identified. 

One of the testing sites that will be made available includes the Freeman Coliseum.

Additionally, Wolff said county leaders are working on a number of new initiatives that will be made available to accommodate those who test positive. 

Here are some of the changes being implemented and programs being worked on to assist the community during the coronavirus pandemic:

  • Bexar County Manager David Smith plans to add a disease expert to staff.
  • Working on a program that would invest $5 million to provide interest-free loans and a number of grants for small businesses in the community that have suffered as a result of coronavirus. A plan for this is set to be presented at the next commissioner's court meeting on Tuesday. Judge Wolff said: "We want our small business community to know that we are standing with them." The county will partner with LiftFund to make this possible.
  • The Area Foundation and United Way are working on a program, tentatively called the COVID-19 Disaster Response Fund, that would be designed to help families that are suffering as a result of the coronavirus. This plan would ensure that families in need would have resources made available to them. 

Bexar County Tax Assessor-Collector Albert Uresti also announced that his team is working on the following:

  • Property tax payments and payment plan requests, as well as vehicle registrations and vehicle title transfer requests, will be accepted at the curbside drop-off, online, by phone, by mail, or in the 34-hour drop-box.
  • Postponing due dates and some requirements for vehicle registrations and title transfers 
  • Requesting that the county cancel all delinquent property tax disclosures sales for the months of April and May.  
  • Possibly stopping foreclosures for the next 60 days. 

Bexar County District Attorney Joe Gonzalez announced the following changes that are being implemented to limit person-to-person contact: 

  • Victims of crime will be asked to communicate with attorneys via telephone. 
  • Limited contact procedures will apply to some cases involving witnesses.
  • No jury trials will take place until April 27th, at the earliest.  

Gonzalez also stressed the importance of continued support and availability of services to domestic violence survivors. Anyone seeking services can call the Bexar County Family Justice Center at 210-631-0100. 

Bexar County Sheriff Javier Salazar announced the following safeguards being put in place at the Bexar County Jail: 

  • An alternate level of response for patrol calls for service; lessening the type of calls that require a deputy to limit interactions with the community.
  • Deputies are being asked to not unnecessarily enter businesses and home and to conduct business at a safe distance.
  • Jail metrics are being tracked. The county is looking to release non-violent misdemeanor offenders.
  • Every inmate is being screened, temperatures are being taken and questions are being asked. Additionally, inmates are being tested on their way out the door. 
  • Deputies are being tested as they enter facilities. 

These plans are all pending approval from the Commissioner's Court.