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San Antonio conducting post-mortem surveillance for previously unreported coronavirus victims

City leaders say they are testing those who may have shown signs of the virus before dying but were never officially diagnosed.

SAN ANTONIO — While local leaders reported six new coronavirus-related deaths on Thursday, new efforts to retroactively test those who have recently passed have yielded 13 more COVID-19-related deaths that went unreported.

According to San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg, those post-mortem tests were performed on individuals who showed signs they may have had the virus but were never officially tested before they died. 

The Bexar County death toll jumped to 165 amid the ongoing pandemic with the addition of both figures of newly reported deaths from COVID-19 complications.

Nirenberg said post-mortem-testing efforts have been going on "for a while" as part of a partnership between the Bexar County Medical Examiner's Office and Metro Health "to give us a clearer picture of what COVID-19 is doing in our community." While it's unclear as of now how many of those tests have been conducted in total, the mayor said the 13 previously unreported deaths come from a batch of data collected over the last three weeks. 

"This is one of the few places in the country that is now doing post-mortem surveillance to determine cause of death if there is a suspicion of COVID-19," he said. 

Those tested after death are by and large people who died outside of the hospital, whether at home or elsewhere.

A total of 954 new coronavirus cases were reported on Thursday, bringing the total for Bexar County to 17,679. As of Thursday, 1,216 county residents were in the hospital with the virus. 

Credit: KENS

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