COVID-19 surges elsewhere have yet to hit San Antonio

‘We can’t count on that lasting,’ says University Health chief medical officer

Bexar County bracing for possible rise in COVID-19 cases amid holidays

SAN ANTONIO – The San Antonio Metropolitan Health District’s COVID-19 data seems to be pointing in the right direction. However, some local doctors warn that may not be the case as end-of-year holiday gatherings approach.

Metro Health’s COVID-19 dashboard shows the risk level at mild, positivity rate under 2% and fewer than 200 people hospitalized.

Dr. Bryan Alsip, the chief medical officer of University Health, said, “We’re fortunately not seeing a lot of patients with COVID right now, which is great.”

“I think still a word of caution is important because we can’t count on that lasting,” he added.

Alsip said the pandemic continues to evolve. He said, since it began, it’s changed rapidly in Bexar County and elsewhere at least three times, if not more.

Alsip said the new COVID-19 omicron variant could make it change yet again.

With two cases of the omicron variant confirmed in Bexar County so far, Alsip said, “It’s really important people continue to keep their guard up.”

He said one reason other communities are seeing more omicron cases is the testing of wastewater, while San Antonio uses genome sequencing.

Alsip said omicron is known to spread quickly, but its severity remains in question. If it is more severe than the dominant delta variant, he said, “We’re certainly going to be seeing a lot more cases get admitted.”

But even if it isn’t as severe, Alsip said, a significant number of people could get infected or re-infected.

“Some of those individuals could be at risk for severe disease because of age or underlying medical conditions, and they’re very likely to be hospitalized,” he said.

Rudy Arispe, a spokesman for Metro Health, said the department had seen an increase in vaccinations. He said it’s important to remember COVID-19 already has claimed 4,968 lives in Bexar County.

“With omicron variant now in our community, we once again remind residents to get vaccinated as soon as possible,” Arispe said.

He said 2.8 million vaccines already have been administered in Bexar County, including booster shots.

But during the holidays, if it’s unknown whether family or friends are vaccinated, Alsip said to be cautious.

“Whether it be wearing a mask or trying to maintain some distancing or moving some sort of celebration outdoors,” Alsip said.

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About the Authors:

Jessie Degollado has been with KSAT since 1984. She is a general assignments reporter who covers a wide variety of stories. Raised in Laredo and as an anchor/reporter at KRGV in the Rio Grande Valley, Jessie is especially familiar with border and immigration issues. In 2007, Jessie also was inducted into the San Antonio Women's Hall of Fame.

William Caldera has been at KSAT since 2003. He covers a wide range of stories including breaking news, weather, general assignments and sports.