Metro Health director pushes for COVID-19 vaccines amid ‘pandemic of the unvaccinated’

Director Claude Jacob says 65.9% of the eligible population is fully vaccinated

Vaccinations in Bexar County

SAN ANTONIO – San Antonio Metropolitan Health District leaders are pushing community members to get their COVID-19 vaccines amid what the director is calling a “pandemic of the unvaccinated,” referring to the rise in unvaccinated people testing positive for the virus.

See today’s COVID-19 numbers and what to know about the latest rise in San Antonio and surrounding areas here.

Metro Health Director Claude Jacob said the positivity rate this week is 16.9%, a decrease from last week when it was 21.4%.

He said 65.9% of our eligible local population is fully vaccinated.

City workers succumb to COVID-19

Dr. Anita Kurian, assistant director of Metro Health, reported two city workers have died due to COVID-19 complications. She said it’s unclear whether they were vaccinated since the city does not mandate vaccines for workers and only has voluntary reporting.

Hospitalizations in Bexar County

There are 1,382 people in the hospital with COVID-19. Dr. Bryan Alsip, chief medical officer for University Health, says the COVID-19 data indicates a third surge in our area, similar to last summer’s and winter’s surges.

The increase of cases is also seen in the number of younger patients, with 22 pediatric admissions to area hospitals in the last 24 hours.

While hospitals in the state use load balancing to transfer patients to other facilities that have fewer patients, Alsip says some places that would usually have capacity are now becoming full. Leaders say some patients have even been transferred to other states.

As hospitals fill up, more help is on the way. Wolff said 295 nurses who were requested to aid local hospitals started working this week, and another 315 are expected to arrive next week.

For those with symptoms not severe enough to warrant a hospital visit, Wolff encouraged them to see their doctors so they can visit the Fusion Center to get Regeneron treatment. He said there have been 500 infusions since the center opened.

COVID-19 booster shots

Kurian said the city is still conducting contact investigations for the cases it receives. As for vaccination sites, she said the city would revisit the possibilities to add more or less depending on the rollout of the booster vaccine as there are more than 1,300 sites in our area.

Kurian said the city is waiting to receive guidelines the week of Sept. 20 regarding booster shots. However, she said the local sites are administering the vaccine to immunocompromised people who need a third one.

Wolff said the county plans to reopen the Wonderland Mall site to administer the booster vaccine after the county receives its guidelines.

Kurian said the city is planning on giving out $100 gift cards to people who receive their second vaccine at its sites. But plans are still being worked out, and the program may be implemented by the end of this month, she said.

“We have to wait for certain approval,” she said.

Battle over mask mandates

In the battle over mask mandates in schools, Wolff said the Fourth Court of Appeals upheld its injunction on Gov. Greg Abbott’s executive order until the next court date in December. However, he said he believes the state will appeal the ruling to the Texas Supreme Court, where the outcomes don’t look as promising for the city and county.

Despite the ongoing legal battle, Wolff said he’s heard of some districts that have said they will continue to defy the ban on mask mandates.

“You do not have a Constitutional right to pass on your disease to someone else,” he said angrily, referring to the ongoing critics of those who continue to oppose the mask mandates and other measures to decrease the spread of the novel coronavirus.

Phishing scheme

Jacob said an email is making the rounds from someone claiming to be from Bexar County and collecting information. He said the county does not ask for information via email, and people should not share their personal details with the sender.

Watch the entire briefing in the video player above to hear more from city and county leaders.


About the Author

Ivan Herrera has worked as a journalist in San Antonio for four years. Using his graduate degree in business from UTSA, he developed "Money: It's Personal," a weekly series that airs on GMSA at 9 on Tuesdays. The series breaks down personal finance topics into easy explainers. Before living in SA, Ivan covered border news in the Rio Grande Valley.

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