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‘We are entering a second wave’: Coronavirus cases, hospitalizations spiking in San Antonio

Some progress indicators trending in the wrong direction

A second wave of coronavirus now impacting San Antonio
A second wave of coronavirus now impacting San Antonio

SAN ANTONIO – As San Antonio begins to reopen, experts always expected a rise in COVID-19 cases, but a few of the city’s progress indicators are a cause for concern.

In the last three days, a total of 507 new COVID-19 cases have been confirmed in San Antonio. The trend is similar across Texas, which reported its largest single-day increase on Wednesday.

“We’re seeing a spike. This is not gradual,” said Dawn Emerick, San Antonio Metro Health Director.

Although health experts are increasingly concerned about numbers growing even more due to protests, Emerick said the current spike is more likely due to large gatherings around Memorial Day Weekend.

“We still have another week to go before we would see anything from the protests,” she said. “It’s too early.”

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In San Antonio, health experts have a variety of progress and warning indicators they monitor to determine the toll COVID-19 is taking on residents. They include factors like the active infection rate, the stress on the healthcare system, and the doubling time, which is the number of days it takes for the overall number of cases to double.

See the full dashboard here.

While the dashboard does not reflect this week’s number of new cases, the 5-day average of new cases is at 109.8, a six-fold increase since June 6, when the average was 15.8 cases a day.

The source of the new cases remain unclear, and a small number of the new cases have come from backlogged tests, city officials have previously said. As of Thursday, the source of roughly 400 positive cases is still pending determination.

But the majority of the recent positive cases are symptomatic, Emerick said. Contact tracing investigations are underway to determine more about those cases.

But case numbers aren’t the only rising statistic.

The data shows COVID-19 hospitalizations have also gone up by more than 45% since June 6, from 84 hospitalizations to 122.

Intensive care unit admissions have also gone up from 32 on June 7 to 54 as of Thursday, and 25 patients are on ventilators. The health care system’s stress score, which monitors things like personal protective equipment numbers, hospital beds and ventilator capacity, is currently labeled “Medium.”

“If that starts creeping up, we know multiple indicators underneath that are getting stressed,” Emerick said.

Nearly a third of staffed beds are still available and two-thirds of the county’s ventilators are still available.

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Despite the rise in numbers, some progress indicators are still trending in the right direction.

Roughly 60% of Bexar County residents who have been infected with COVID-19 have recovered. And the doubling rate, the number of days it takes to double case numbers, is still around 29 days, according to the data.

While numbers continue to rise as businesses continue reopening, Emerick is asking the public to stay vigilant, keep washing hands and keep wearing face masks.

“Something is happening in our community that we need to pay attention to,” before saying that Texas is in the midst of a “second wave” of coronavirus infections.

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About the Author:

Fares Sabawi has been a journalist in San Antonio for four years. He has covered several topics, but specializes in crime, courts, open records and data visualization.