Metro Health responds to criticism that it wasn’t prepared to handle COVID-19

Interim director says no one was prepared for a 100-year pandemic

Metro Health Interim Director Colleen Bridger speaks about the criticism the department has faced while trying to deal with a 100-year pandemic that no one was prepared for.

SAN ANTONIO – Public health departments across the nation have been criticized in some form over its response to the coronavirus pandemic, including the San Antonio Metropolitan Health District.

There have been concerns over whether Metro Health hired enough case investigators and contact tracers at the beginning of the pandemic to track the spread of COVID-19 in Bexar County.

Dr. Colleen Bridger, the interim director and assistant city manager, says there are now 165 case investigators.

Health officials work to trace COVID-19 cases in San Antonio

“So, at the beginning of this second spike, it was taking us about seven days to complete the case investigation process. We are now finishing it within one day,” Bridger said. “So, every day we get better and we learn and we grow and we respond appropriately. And I think that’s, you know, the best you can do in a 100-year pandemic where none of us alive today had any experience in how to do this or how to deal with this.”

In March, the New York Times looked at the challenges that public health departments across the nation faced even before the pandemic.

“As the nation’s local and state public health officials confront a pandemic that has paralyzed much of the world, many of them have made their situation plain: They are heading into a crisis without the resources they need,” the article states.

Bridger agrees that “some of the criticism is well deserved.”

“And we have modified our response in order to better, you know, take that criticism into account and make us better,” Bridger said.

WATCH: Part 2 of Bridger’s interview

Metro Health Interim Director Colleen Bridger talks about the importance of changing our behaviors if we want to live with COVID-19.

RELATED: Metro Health to issue amended health directive to reopening schools

About the Authors:

Steve Spriester started at KSAT in 1995 as a general assignments reporter. Now, he anchors the station's top-rated 5, 6 and 10 p.m. newscasts.

Brina is the Executive Producer of the NightBeat and KSAT Explains. She has been with KSAT since 2015. She is a Houston native and proud to call San Antonio home.