5 charts show COVID-19 surge in San Antonio

Soaring case counts caused by omicron variant

Demand for COVID-19 tests causing long lines at San Antonio testing centers

SAN ANTONIO – The surge of the omicron variant has fueled the growth of COVID-19 infections across the globe, disrupting daily operations once again.

In San Antonio, where the COVID-19 risk level was raised to “severe” earlier this week, San Antonio Metropolitan Health District said the omicron variant has led to a three-fold increase in daily cases of COVID-19 with the seven-day moving average of new daily cases now at 3,645.

Long lines have been reported at COVID-19 test sites and several local universities have delayed the start of the spring semester or shifted to remote instruction.

Officials worry about the surge’s impact on Bexar County hospitals.

“This burden on hospitals is affecting doctors, nurses, and other key medical staff, who are also getting sick and are having to miss work, unable to care for patients in our hospitals,” Wolff said in a written statement. “If you haven’t already, get vaccinated.”

Here are five charts breaking down the latest COVID-19 surge in San Antonio.

Daily new cases

One of the first warning signs to look at is the number of new COVID-19 cases confirmed each day in San Antonio.

The numbers began to soar over the holidays and into the new year.

Medical experts do not just look the daily intake of cases, they also consider the 7-day average of new cases. San Antonio has averaged more than 1,000 cases per day since New Year’s Day.

Metro Health has reported at least 2,700 new infections every day since Jan. 1, the numbers showed, indicating that the virus has been spreading rapidly throughout the community.

Positivity rate

Concerned officials have also been pointing to the skyrocketing weekly positivity rate —the percentage of COVID-19 tests that come back positive.

Before the holidays, Bexar County’s positivity rate hovered around 2%, well below the 5% benchmark set by local officials.

Metro Health did not report the positivity rate the week before Christmas, but between Christmas Day and New Year’s Eve, the positivity rate hit 27.3%. This week, the positivity rate grew to 31%. That’s a massive increase over two weeks that shows nearly one in three COVID-19 swabs in Bexar County are coming back positive.

Hospitalizations

Hospitalizations are one of the most important metrics being followed by experts across the state of Texas.

Though COVID-19 hospitalizations in Bexar County are currently down compared to other peaks, the numbers have still seen a dramatic increase since Christmas Day.

That day, 202 patients were hospitalized with COVID-19. As of Jan. 5, that number has hit 898 — a 344% increase.

The infections have taken a toll on health care workers and hospital capacity.

Seven COVID-19 deaths were reported Wednesday, raising the Bexar County death toll to 4,984. As hospitalizations increase, the death toll may surpass 5,000 in the coming days.

Omicron variant

It did not take long for the omicron variant to dominate the new infections that have been reported in recent weeks.

CDC data shows that omicron makes up 98.2% of new cases in the southern region, which includes Arkansas, Louisiana, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas.

Experts, like local infectious disease epidemiologist Cherise Rohr Allegrini, say the data clearly shows this variant is more contagious than the ones before it.

“(Omicron is) more contagious. That means you’re going to have more people affected by it, and we know that the two doses of the vaccine are not quite good enough,” Rohr Allegrini said. “So we need to get that third dose in. But (omicron) is more contagious, and it’s just a numbers game. The more people you have infected, the more likely that you’re going to have folks that have severe disease because it’s out there, whereas before it wasn’t as contagious.”

On Monday, Metro Health reported that the variant makes up between 90% and 100% of new cases in the county.

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About the Author:

Fares Sabawi has been a journalist in San Antonio for four years. He has covered several topics, but specializes in crime, courts, open records and data visualization.