Labor Day weekend to be pivotal for coronavirus cases

Infectious disease doctor talks about precautions to take this weekend

Dr. Ruth Berggren with UT Health San Antonio talks Labor Day, coronavirus vaccine possibilities and precautions to take during election season in the latest KSAT Q&A.
Dr. Ruth Berggren with UT Health San Antonio talks Labor Day, coronavirus vaccine possibilities and precautions to take during election season in the latest KSAT Q&A.

SAN ANTONIO – This week, Mayor Ron Nirenberg took to social media to remind San Antonians to be safe this holiday weekend fearing it could render another spike in coronavirus cases. During Thursday’s KSAT Q&A on the 6 o’clock news, Infectious disease Doctor Ruth Berggren shared the same message.

Identify your Labor Day social bubble

“This is not the time to start expanding your social bubble,” Dr. Berggren said the holiday weekend is a crucial time to keep your circle tight, socializing with only immediate family members or a few others who are similarly cautious.

She also said to consider how much time is spent indoors with others. She said it’s best to move gatherings outdoors to minimize the risk of infection.

“If you’re going to do something in the backyard, such as a barbecue, keep it outdoors, keep it small and wear your masks,” she said. “But if you’re really close and shouting and singing with somebody that’s outdoors less than six feet away, that can get dangerous too.”

Back to school after Labor Day

Many districts have plans to start bringing some students back to the classroom starting next week. However, Dr. Berggren said as part of the city’s coronavirus task force, schools should be flexible.

“We care about data rather than dates. We want to see the positivity rate for those tests coming down to five percent. Right now, we’re in the sevens. We’ve made a ton of progress,” Berggren said. “It’s going to require flexibility, requires schools to be able to pivot quickly to respond to these numbers. But that’s what we have to do during these pandemic times,” she said.

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Many are hoping for a COVID-19 vaccine and there are high hopes of seeing one hit the market as early as the end of October. With over 100 vaccines in development, Dr. Berggren says while that may happen, we won’t know how effective it will be for quite some time.

“So this is obviously a pandemic. It’s an emergency. Things are being done differently. But the truth of the matter is that what’s going to happen in early November, if we’re vaccinating people, is we’re gonna be vaccinating early on before we have long term safety and efficacy data,” Berggren explained.

Many have attempted to compare the coronavirus with the flu, however, Berggren said it is possible to become sick with both and says it’s just as important as ever to get a flu shot.

“We call this the possibility of a twin-demic. We do not want to see a twin-demic in San Antonio. And the way to avoid it is to have everybody but everybody who can-- go get their flu shot.”

The flu kills tens of thousands of people per year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. But Dr. Berggren says only about half of Americans get immunized.

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About the Author:

Alyssa Medina is the Video-On-Demand Producer and has worked at KSAT since 2016. She creates exclusive content for the KSAT-TV streaming app. Some of her most notable contributions focus on race and culture or health and wellness. She's created the segments 'Creating Black History in S.A.' and 'New Week. New You."