University Health urges people to use ERs only in true emergencies, skip New Year’s Eve parties due to omicron surge

City, county leaders addressed COVID spread during press conference Friday

SAN ANTONIO – Local medical officials with University Health are urging people to only use local ERs for true emergencies.

A recent spike in COVID-19 due to the omicron variant has people flocking to local emergency rooms to be tested. But University Health says testing should be done through a primary care provider or with a designated testing site.

City and county leaders held a press conference on Friday from the medical center. You can watch the livestream in the video player at the top of this article.

“Our Emergency Department is experiencing a huge spike in patients, including critical trauma patients, heart attacks, strokes and serious complications from diabetes,” said University Health’s Director of External Communications Elizabeth Allen.

A recent spike in COVID cases and other upper-respiratory illnesses have people flocking to the ER as well.

Even though many clinics and testing facilities will be closed Friday for New Year’s Eve, people who are only mildly to moderately ill with COVID-like symptoms are urged to monitor and manage their symptoms at home so emergency room doctors can manage the most critically ill patients.

Local leaders are also urging people to help reduce the spread of COVID.

“It’s too late to stop the Christmas surge, but we can stop a New Year’s pile on,” Allen said. “People should avoid crowds and skip the New Year’s Eve parties and in-person get-togethers.”

On Tuesday, Metro Health issued a similar plea saying Bexar County is reporting a “three-fold increase in COVID-19 cases.”

Local health officials said they’re recommending that everyone wear a mask in public regardless of vaccination status and consider using a self-test before joining indoor gatherings with others outside of their household.

“As we prepare to celebrate the New Year, we ask that Bexar County residents exercise caution to avoid infection from the coronavirus and help prevent spreading it to others,” Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff said. “All of us must be on guard now that omicron is the dominant variant in the community.”

According to the newest recommendations from the CDC, anyone exposed to COVID-19 should isolate for five days, followed by five days of mask-wearing in shared public spaces.

We need everyone to do all they can to help prevent a real crisis in our community,” Allen said.

That includes getting COVID-19 vaccinations and boosters, health officials said. Many vaccine clinics will also be closed Friday for New Year’s Eve including Metro Health’s Alamodome Drive-Thru clinic.

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About the Author

Julie Moreno has worked in local television news for more than 25 years. She came to KSAT as a news producer in 2000. After producing thousands of newscasts, she transitioned to the digital team in 2015. She writes on a wide variety of topics from breaking news to trending stories and manages KSAT’s daily digital content strategy.

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