Hospitalizations and COVID-19 cases continue to surge in Bexar County; vaccinations appear stalled

New case 7-day average - 589, COVID-positive hospital patients - 585

SAN ANTONIO – Bexar County COVID-19 cases continue to climb and send more people to the hospital amid a nationwide resurgence of the virus.

Statistics released Tuesday showed sharp jumps in key indicators over the previous set of numbers released on July 21, six days earlier. The seven-day average for new cases leapt up 62%, from 363 to 589, and the number of people with COVID-19 in the hospital jumped up 47%, from 397 to 585, of which 182 are in the ICU.

The hospital numbers are more than quadruple the week between June 23 and June 29 when there was a weekly average of 135 COVID-positive patients in area hospitals and 44 in the ICU.

The positivity rate for COVID-19 tests also continued to shoot up. It jumped from 13.5% for the week ending July 16 to 17% for the week ending July 23. Less than a month earlier, it was only 3.8% for the week ending June 25.

The new numbers come the same day the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention backtracked on its mask recommendations and suggested that even vaccinated people should wear them indoors in areas where the virus is considered to be spreading quickly. By the CDC’s tracker, that includes Bexar County and much of Texas.

Though Gov. Greg Abbott has preempted any local attempts at instituting mask mandates, a spokesman for the San Antonio Metropolitan Health District said its recommendations would mirror the CDC’s.

“We also recommend that children wear masks when school starts in August, in accordance with CDC’s new guidelines, and so does the American Academy of Pediatrics,” Rudy Arispe, with Metro Health, said in an email to KSAT.

Though case numbers are climbing, local vaccination efforts appear to be largely stalled. Last week, Metro Health reported 75% of people 12 years and older had received at least one dose of the vaccine and 62.1% were fully vaccinated.

Those rates only moved incrementally in Tuesday’s update, to 75.5% and 62.5%, respectively.

Local elected and public health officials have continued to urge residents to get vaccinated, even holding an impromptu news conference on Friday, at which Mayor Ron Nirenberg urged unvaccinated San Antonians to “forget the disinformation that you hear out there.”

Nirenberg and Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff have also said they are contemplating following the example of New York City and California, which are requiring public employees to be vaccinated or be tested weekly.

About the Author:

Garrett Brnger is a reporter with KSAT 12.