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As COVID-19 hospitalizations hit all-time high in San Antonio, health official warns deaths may ‘pile up’

Vaccine hasn’t slowed down San Antonio’s concerning coronavirus trends

HOUSTON, TX - DECEMBER 31:  (EDITORIAL USE ONLY) Medical staff member Diana Isabel Escalante helps a patient take medication  in the COVID-19 intensive care unit (ICU) on New Year's Eve at the United Memorial Medical Center on December 31, 2020 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Go Nakamura/Getty Images)
HOUSTON, TX - DECEMBER 31: (EDITORIAL USE ONLY) Medical staff member Diana Isabel Escalante helps a patient take medication in the COVID-19 intensive care unit (ICU) on New Year's Eve at the United Memorial Medical Center on December 31, 2020 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Go Nakamura/Getty Images) (2020 Getty Images)

SAN ANTONIO – Even as more San Antonio residents get vaccinated, COVID-19 trends have continued at alarming rates, with virus-related hospitalizations hitting an all-time high at area hospitals on Tuesday.

During the county’s daily COVID-19 update, San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg confirmed the grim news about the hospitalization record. With more than 180 new COVID-19 hospital admissions reported, officials said area hospitals are currently caring for 1,318 people afflicted with the virus, the most since the pandemic began last year.

Nirenberg said the hospitalizations are pushing health care staff to the brink.

“They are pushing it to the very edge of capacity and they can’t be pushed much further,” Nirenberg said.

The worsening situation will likely result in a greater number of deaths related to COVID-19, San Antonio Metro Health Medical Director Dr. Junda Woo said.

“The part that makes me very sad is that after this, in one or two weeks, we will start to see the deaths pile up,” Woo said.

Because COVID-19 related admissions have made up 15% or more of overall hospital capacity in Bexar County’s hospital region for more than seven days, the governor’s executive order triggered greater restrictions on occupancy for most businesses.

The peak in hospitalizations comes amid rising new COVID-19 infections, although reporting dates have been staggered due to the holidays.

The trend in Bexar County is similar to the rest of the state.

Texas set a record for the ninth consecutive day, exceeding 13,300 COVID-19 hospitalizations on Tuesday, and several regions throughout Texas are under the harsher restrictions allowed by the governor’s executive order.

Until vaccinations ramp up, experts say the public needs to continue practicing social distancing efforts to mitigate the tide of COVID-19 cases.

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