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Releases to public during COVID-19 pandemic

San Antonio Assistant City Manager Dr Colleen Bridger on Monday answered a plethora of questions from KSAT about the city’s handling of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Bridger said, at least for now, the city does not plan on releasing the names and exact ages of  San Antonio News people who die from the respiratory disease caused by the new coronavirus.“That’s not at the top of our priority list right now. We need to talk that through and I need to think that through,” said Bridger.

When asked what her current priorities are, Bridger provided the following list:

1. Stop the spread of COVID-19

2. Make sure the health care system has everything it needs to continue to operate properly

3. Keep everyone in the loop on the latest information

A day after a city spokesperson said a woman in her 80′s being treated for COVID-19 and underlying health conditions at Brooke Army Medical Center had died, marking Bexar County’s first death related to the respiratory disease, a BAMC spokesman told the KSAT 12 Defenders Monday morning that the victim was not a patient at that hospital.
City officials clarified Monday afternoon that the woman had been moved to a hospice care facility prior to her death. Officials have so far declined to release her identity.

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Can San Antonio’s major hospital's test for COVID-19?
Bridger said yes, however, city officials are still encouraging them and working with them to refer people to the drive-through testing location at Freeman Coliseum.

Why not release the exact ages of people who test positive for COVID-19?
Bridger said the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, or HIPAA, prevents Metro Health from releasing exact ages of people who test positive because it is still a small sample size and age is considered personally identifiable information.“When you have a small number of cases, if there’s only one 17-year-old for example who tests positive for COVID-19, you’re next-door neighbour has a 17-year-old who is sick, you might connect the dots,” said Bridger, explaining the city’s rationale.

Are JBSA cases included in the number of COVID-19 cases reported in Bexar County by Metro Health?
Bridger said the federal evacuees brought to Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland to be quarantined are not counted for the Bexar County figures. However, she said people assigned to JBSA, whether it be at Ft. Sam Houston, Lackland or Randolph Air Force Bases, are counted Press Release Distribution Services In San Antonio in the local count. She also added that people being treated at BAMC are counted in the Bexar County figures.

What about the private lab results for COVID-19?
Bridger said the private laboratories conducting COVID-19 tests are now part of a testing task force that meets every other day.
While these labs have been providing Metro Health figures for positive results, Bridger said the city has now briefed these labs on how to provide figures for the number of negative test results as well.

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