SAN ANTONIO – Though San Antonio remains much better off in the fight against COVID-19 than one year ago, San Antonio and Bexar County officials say more vaccinations are needed to tamp down a concerning rise in cases and hospitalizations.
Officials held a briefing Wednesday afternoon after county data showed that the positivity rate nearly doubled over the past week, jumping from 5.8% to 11.2%. The uptick in the percentage of people testing positive for the virus is partially due to a drop in testing, officials said, but there is still some cause for concern.
A month ago, the average number of patients hospitalized for the virus stood at 123. As of Tuesday, 258 people are now hospitalized as they battle the virus, said Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff.
“And they’re continuing to climb,” Wolff said.
Around the country, several cities are seeing a rise in cases due to the Delta variant of COVID-19, which has proven to be “highly transmittable,” San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg said.
(The variant) is driving the renewed momentum of the virus,” Nirenberg said.
More than 1 million residents in Bexar County are fully vaccinated, amounting to 62%, Nirenberg said, but the vaccination rate has slowed. Health officials are worried about that because unvaccinated people “remain at risk of hospitalization or severe illness” if they are infected with COVID-19, Nirenberg said.
“As a reminder, it doesn’t require an appointment, it doesn’t require health insurance,” Nirenberg said. “You can walk up and go get your vaccine (for free) ... The bottom line is vaccines save lives.”
Officials do have some concern that cases may grow as children, who cannot be vaccinated if they are younger than 12, return to school in the fall. Though school districts can no longer mandate masks, health experts say it’s highly recommended unvaccinated students continue to wear masks to slow the spread of the virus.