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'Full-speed into a brick wall': New hospitalization, COVID-19 case numbers paint bleak picture of worsening health situation in Bexar County

The San Antonio area just had its worst day yet in the coronavirus pandemic.

SAN ANTONIO — As Bexar County reported its worst day of the current pandemic with 638 newly confirmed coronavirus cases, hospitals continue to experience high stress from a surge in diagnoses over the last 10 days. 

At Thursday night's coronavirus response briefing, Mayor Ron Nirenberg said hospital bed availability is significantly lower, with just 25% of staffed beds ready to take a COVID-19 patient. That comes as the county reports 628 COVID-19-positive patients in local hospitals on Thursday, the highest number yet.

RELATED: Coronavirus Tracker: record-high 638 new cases reported in San Antonio Thursday

The numbers paint a bleak picture of a worsening health crisis in the city and across the state. Texas also reported a record-high in its daily total of new COVID-19 cases, with nearly 6,000. 

"Unless we work together, this car is going full-speed into a brick wall," Nirenberg said. "We all have a role to make sure we don't hit it. We will all feel the impact if we do."

Earlier in the day on Thursday, Gov. Greg Abbott moved to suspend elective surgeries in Bexar, Travis, Harris, and Dallas counties amid the virus surge, as well as pause the state's phased reopening strategy. 

Locally, businesses are now required to mandate that patrons wear masks where social distancing isn't an option. But local leaders can't enforce it on a resident-by-resident basis—only strongly encourage it, as Nirenberg and Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff have been doing for weeks and continued to do on Thursday. 

"The best place to be is at home," Nirenberg added. 

Credit: KENS

In addition to the latest hospitalization figures, local officials said the number of those in intensive care with the coronavirus surpassed 200 for the first time. And 94 county residents are on ventilators. 

Junda Woo, medical director for San Antonio Metro Health, said there's very little wiggle room when it comes to how much more regional hospitals can take on. She suggested that the threshold has already been met. 

"We're already at the threshold. We're begging people to stop," Woo said Thursday evening. "We are currently on the worst-case scenario curve."

RELATED: Gov. Abbott issues order that suspends elective surgeries in Harris, Bexar, Dallas, Travis counties

RELATED: Volunteers sought for vaccine trials in San Antonio

RELATED: Texas has nearly 6,000 new COVID-19 cases today, as Gov. Abbott pauses reopening

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