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Why you should avoid crowds this Father’s Day weekend

Infectious disease expert discusses Father's Day gathering concerns amid the pandemic

SAN ANTONIO – If you’re planning on attending a gathering this weekend to celebrate Father’s Day, Dr. Ruth Berggren, an infectious disease specialist with the Long School of Medicine at UT Health San Antonio, is hoping you think twice about it.

“I worry a lot about Father’s Day coming up, because I know everybody wants to go see their dad and pay their respects,” she said. “But when you talk to the folks who are coming into our emergency room about ‘how did you get this virus?' it isn’t necessarily that they went to a wild party.”

Berggren, who is also a member of San Antonio/Bexar County’s Health Transition Team, said people are gathering with extended family and some of them are asymptomatic, spreading the virus unknowingly.

On Thursday, Bexar County and San Antonio added 408 new COVID-19 cases, yet another big jump. Currently, there are 267 patients in the hospital, 92 of them are in ICU and 40 are on ventilators.

RELATED: Bexar County COVID-19 cases surpass 5,500

The rise in hospitalizations is what has the city, county and the medical field concerned. Berggren said some days hospitals will see 12 new patients show up in ICU.

“That is an extraordinary increase from what we had been seeing just two weeks ago,” Berggren said.

If the number of hospitalizations continues to rise, doctors are worried they’ll run out of hospital beds and Remdesivir, the drug approved to treat COVID-19. Right now, hospitals across Bexar County are preparing their backup plans, which include finding additional beds and addressing a possible shortage of doctors.

Berggren points to the model below that shows in two weeks, hospitalizations will be at 1,900 by mid August.

Pictured is a graph showing a prediction model of COVID-19 hospitalizations in Bexar County.
Pictured is a graph showing a prediction model of COVID-19 hospitalizations in Bexar County. (KSAT)

“Here’s the big problem. Our bed capacity in San Antonio is 1,400, so that means that after July 20, we are going to exceed our current bed capacity. That’s why we’re looking around for extra beds,” she said.

The prediction model shows two curves: one red, one gray. Berggren said the red curve points to where we will be if we wear our masks, practice social distance and good hygiene.

“It doesn’t involve sheltering in place. It doesn’t mean we have to revert to the total shutdown that we had before,” she said. Berggren encourages people to avoid crowded indoor activities.

“I’m talking about bars, gyms, parties. Those are the things we’re hearing about that people have been doing when they come in sick.”

Recently, officials have said more people under the age of 30 are testing positive. Berggren confirmed that during a Q&A session Thursday night.

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“We are seeing people in our hospital that are in their late teens and early 20s and they are not being spared from the very, very serious disease progression and outcomes,” she said.

Berggren added that many of them are going to the ICU and are “needing advanced life support.”

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