Bexar County Judge Decides Not To Open Bars Just Yet, Despite Governor’s Reopening Plan

“I think it’s good to have that authority locally to do that, that way we can make a decision as a community and we can provide input from health officials before we jump off and do anything.”

By Texas Public Radio StaffOctober 8, 2020 9:30 am, , , , , ,

From Texas Public Radio:

On Wednesday, Gov. Greg Abbott announced that bars across the state would be able to open up by Oct. 14 — if county judges chose to opt in. County Judge Nelson Wolff said Bexar County will not be opting in.

“But I am going to try to give a fair hearing on it, and it’s going to be [with] help from Metro Health because I want to rely on them first,” Wolff said.

He said that he has spoken with Interim Director for Metro Health Colleen Bridger, who will provide him with more information and a recommendation. Wolff said he’s curious about how many bars are currently open and operating as restaurants, what the Community Resource Committee — a group of citizens who advise Metro Health — recommends and what the potential health risks are, should more bars open.

“Anecdotally, [bars are] where we think a lot of the spread began during the summer,” Wolff said. He said that, though there is no evidence that bars specifically are the sole cause of surges in the summer — as opposed to restaurants or other settings— he wants to make a decision that is best for the community.

He also said that he thinks Abbott’s choice to give county judges the authority on this decision was a good one.

“I’m happy, to tell you the truth,” Wolff said. “I don’t mind having that authority. I think it’s good to have that authority locally to do that, that way we can make a decision as a community and we can provide input from health officials before we jump off and do anything.”

Wolff said he expects more information from Bridger before the opening date next week.

Mayor Ron Nirenberg reported 214 new cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday, which brings the total caseload to 59,153 since the start of the pandemic. The area’s seven-day moving average is 134, up slightly from Tuesday.

Nirenberg reported no new deaths, and the toll stands at 1,168.

There are 203 COVID-19 patients in local hospitals (-3), 29 of whom were admitted Wednesday. Of those patients, 84 are in intensive care (+2) and 39 are on ventilators (-2). Hospital capacity remains steady but under stress, with 13% of staffed beds and 72% of ventilators are available.

Nirenberg reminded that the first holiday of fall is upcoming — Halloween. He provided a series of recommendations for trick-or-treaters: Stay home if you’re sick, wear appropriate face coverings (costume masks do not count), limit trick-or-treating groups to your household, maintain 6 feet of distance, bring hand sanitizer and use it, avoid going inside homes, stick to prepackaged treats, wash your hands when you get home.

For those offering candy to trick-or-treaters, Nirenberg recommended not to hand out candy if someone in your household is sick, not to require trick-or-treaters to come to your door and to wash your hands when prepping goodie bags. More information about the city’s recommendations can be found on its website.

Nirenberg said City Council met on Wednesday to discuss the recovery and resiliency program — which includes “everything from housing assistance to [the] workforce recovery strategy. He said the program is all on-track.

“Unfortunately, that also means there is a strong level of need out there in our community,” he said. “So if you are among those who are suffering during this pandemic, need assistance with housing, please do not hesitate to call us here at the city.”
More information regarding assistance can be found at

Nirenberg gave an update on the COVID-19 caseload in schools, which, as of Tuesday, is 100 total. He said about half of the cases are students.

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