12 infected including 1 who died at San Antonio nursing home

PAUL J. WEBER and CEDAR ATTANASIO
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Virus Outbreak Texas

Nurses Tishna Soto, left, and Lizette Torres speak to reporters as they prepare a protest outside their work at the Las Palmas Del Sol Medical Center, Wednesday, April 1, 2020, in El Paso, Texas. Torres and Soto are members of National Nurses United, and were joined in calling for increased transparency and safety measures by members in other states. Tensions are running high at U.S. hospitals as medical systems in New York, Washington and Louisiana are shouldering an influx of patients with COVID-19 and workers lack protective gear. (AP Photo/Cedar Attanasio)

At least 12 people at a San Antonio nursing home have been infected with the coronavirus, including one resident who died, and dozens more living at the facility are awaiting test results, authorities said Wednesday.

Six residents and six facility staff tested positive for COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus, at the Southeast Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, said Charles Hood, the San Antonio fire chief. He said emergency responders became concerned after receiving “five or six calls" from the facility within a 12-hour period.

“It was a trigger for us," Hood said.

For most people, the new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia and death. The vast majority of people recover.

Test results on more than 70 other residents at the facilities were pending Wednesday, health officials said. The facility is managed by Advanced Healthcare Solutions, which said in a statement that it had been “following recommended protective actions" and banned visitors from the facility for three weeks.

There are nearly 4,000 cases of coronavirus in Texas and at least 58 related deaths, according to state health officials.

SPRING BREAKERS

More than two dozen University of Texas students have tested positive for the coronavirus after taking a spring break trip to Mexico, public health officials said.

A group of about 70 people in their 20s flew to Cabo San Lucas about 10 days ago, the Austin Public Health Department said Tuesday. So far, 28 of them have tested positive for the coronavirus, and dozens more are being monitored, the department said.

Four who tested positive didn't have any symptoms, officials said.

“The virus often hides in the healthy and is given to those who are at grave risk of being hospitalized or dying,“ Austin-Travis County Interim Health Authority Dr. Mark Escott said. “While younger people have less risk for complications, they are not immune from severe illness and death from COVID-19.”

NURSES PROTEST

Nurses at an El Paso hospital demonstrated Wednesday in protest to what they call a lack of preparedness for facing the challenge of the coronavirus pandemic by the nation’s largest hospital chain.

They say the lack of transparency by HCA Healthcare at the Las Palmas Del Sol Medical Center and other HCA hospitals places nurses, other staff and patients at risk.

National Nurses United, the union representing the El Paso nurses, said questions about how many masks and face shield are available have gone unanswered.

"When I see the nurses in New York, when I see healthcare workers dying in Italy, I don’t want that here,” said emergency room nurse Tishna Soto, 29.

TEACHERS' DEMAND

The Texas State Teachers Association on Wednesday demanded schools be closed for the rest of the school year, saying Gov. Greg Abbott's order to shutter them until May 4 isn't long enough.

At least seven states, including neighboring Oklahoma and New Mexico, have closed their school for the rest of the spring semester. Texas and the federal government have already waived this year's standardized testing requirements.

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Attanasio reported from El Paso. Associated Press writer Juan A. Lozano in Houston and photographer Eric Gay in San Antonio also contributed to this report.