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Leaders begin formulating plan to re-open city, emphasizing that health efforts will remain the priority

The number of coronavirus cases in the county is nearing 900 with the predicted peak still a few weeks away.

SAN ANTONIO — While city leaders say the peak of the coronavirus pandemic in San Antonio is still to come, they have begun formulating a plan for transitioning back to more normal economic operations. 

But both Mayor Ron Nirenberg and Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff warned that those discussions aren't a signal that COVID-19 has done its worst, nor that it will be eradicated completely from the community if and when businesses do start to slowly open back up. 

“It’s not going to be overnight, it’s not going to be without consequences. and we’re all going to have to be extremely careful," Wolff said, before calling on the federal government to increase the flow of testing kits to the Lone Star State.

Local leaders didn't provide details of their plan – which is still in the very early stages – in their latest daily update on the coronavirus response Wednesday evening, but Nirenberg did say devising a strategy would most likely include collaborations with other major Texas cities. Earlier in the day, the state said it would begin unveiling details regarding the reopening of businesses on Friday. 

“As we have those plans start to take shape in all the metros, we’re going to continue to be in coordination," Nirenberg said. "Tens of thousands of people travel between here and Austin. All it takes for an outbreak in Austin or San Antonio is one infected person traveling prematurely because things have opened up sooner than maybe they should have.”

The briefing began with Nirenberg reporting 75 new coronavirus cases in Bexar County, bringing the total to 890. He also reported four additional deaths, increasing that figure to 37 residents who have perished from COVID-19 complications.

Earlier this week, the city announced it was using data from a quartet of models not only to help predict when the coronavirus emergency may be at its worst in the Alamo City, but also to start discussing what comes later. Nirenberg on Wednesday said turning that data into future protocols will fall on what he called a "health transition team."

"The experts should help us interpret those models. The first step in all of this is understanding the parameters for protecting public health as we begin to open back up," he said. 

Meanwhile, social distancing is still being urged for metro residents as non-essential businesses remain closed and parts of the city see drastically less foot traffic than normal this time of year. Fiesta was scheduled to begin on Wednesday before it was postponed to November, and students remain engaged in distance-learning with their teachers. 

When it comes to potentially extending the metro’s stay-home order – currently set to expire April 30, though it could be extended – Nirenberg said the priority is keeping city and county plans congruous while focusing on public health.

“If anyone is under the assumption that all of a sudden we’re going to flip a switch on May 1, they’re mistaken," the mayor said. "That’s not going to happen. What we want to make sure (of) is we’ve got the right ground rules in place from the medical perspective before we make those decisions.”

COVID-19 has claimed the lives of at least 364 Texans and infected nearly 15,500 in total, according to state health officials. 

Once upon a time, she was planning to start an internship at Disney ... after graduating from Texas A&M this semester. Now, like thousands of others, she faces an unprecedented economic landscape.