“I think the culture of San Antonio must have had something to do with the lower death rates,” said Dr. Ruth Berggren, an infectious diseases specialist at UT Health San Antonio. “There are values here in San Antonio. Caring about your family makes you more diligent and sends messaging throughout the community.”

Berggren and her colleague, Dr. Barbara Taylor, influenced several COVID-19 protocols locally — none more important, Berggren said, than what the county’s emergency team initiated with nursing homes and the jail.

To prevent what Berggren feared could be a “disastrous outbreak” at the jail, which houses about 3,500 people daily, jail supervisors and UT Health San Antonio staff decided to test every prisoner. The vast majority of positives, she said, didn’t show symptoms. They were moved out of the general jail population, along with those who had pre-existing chronic health conditions.

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