How long will the omicron variant spike last in San Antonio? Infectious disease specialist weighs in.

Dr. Ruth Berggren joined KSAT’s Q & A on Thursday, answering questions on the omicron spike

SAN ANTONIO – With thousands of COVID-19 cases reported in San Antonio each day, and with even more cases arising across the nation, many are asking when this surge will end and when normalcy will begin again.

Dr. Ruth Berggren, an infectious disease specialist with UT Health San Antonio, joined KSAT’s Q&A on Thursday, saying there are already a few predictions for when omicron could peak and cases would drop.

However, not every model forecasts the same prediction, and it differs with each location.

Dr. Berggren said based off of one model from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, the state of Texas as a whole may have already reached its peak. However, the city of San Antonio isn’t quite there yet.

“...It depends on whose model you look at. If you go to the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, which is a common cited source, they think that Texas cases peaked around Jan. 4. and are starting to come down. But if you look at our local data, we’re still increasing on a regular basis. And it doesn’t like we’re going to plateau out until towards the end of January,” Dr. Berggren said.

This prediction comes after a record number of COVID-19 cases were reported by the San Antonio Metropolitan Health District on Wednesday, with 7,704 new cases in just one day. That’s the highest number of cases the city has seen in a single day so far in the pandemic.

On Thursday, cases dipped slightly but weren’t far behind, coming in at 5,781 cases, data shows.

Dr. Berggren said this surge locally isn’t surprising, considering what’s being seen nationally. However, the good news is that the omicron variant isn’t causing as severe symptoms as delta in many patients.

“It’s not surprising, given what we’ve seen around the world about the infectiousness of omicron. And remember that even though these numbers are sky high and rising, we’re not seeing the same degree of hospitalization from omicron that we had before,” Dr. Berggren said. “We’re still seeing full hospitals, but we’re not seeing the devastating impact on mortality that we had seen with the delta variant.”

If you do come down with the virus, Dr. Berggren said there are a few things you should do.

For starters, if you have symptoms that aren’t life-threatening, she recommends you should still contact a doctor or primary care physician to determine next steps.

“If you have symptoms that don’t seem life-threatening, such as headache, fever, fatigue, some cough, loss of smell or taste... a reasonable thing to do is to call a doctor or primary care provider and discuss your symptoms. You will be told to stay home. Don’t go to work or school, wear a mask and stay away from other people, including in your own household,” Dr. Berggren said. “You should do this for at least five days.”

However, there are a few symptoms you should watch for that may indicate you need to head to an emergency room immediately, according to Dr. Berggren.

“New or out of the ordinary chest pain or shortness of breath, inability to keep down fluids due to vomiting, or an altered consciousness. A change in mental status, which would be confusion or extreme fatigue, extreme lethargy,” Dr. Berggren said.

She added that if your oxygen level shows lower than 94% for more than a few minutes, you should go to an ER for an evaluation and further treatment.

You can watch the full Q&A interview with Dr. Berggren in the video player above.

Thursday’s COVID-19 Numbers

San Antonio Metropolitan Health District reported 5,781 new COVID-19 cases in Bexar County on Thursday.

Health officials also reported a 7-day moving average of 4,841 cases. There were nine new deaths, according to the data.

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There are 982 COVID patients in local hospitals with 206 in ICU and 73 on ventilators. Metro Health’s dashboard shows there are 9% of staffed beds available and 65% of ventilators available.

On Tuesday, Metro Health’s dashboard reported a 31% positivity rate for this week, a 3.7% increase from the 27.3% reported last week.

See more of today’s COVID-19 statistics and city resources for the public here.

City health officials offer the following testing guidelines

  • Consider using a self-test before joining indoor gatherings with others who are not in your household.
  • A positive self-test result means that you have an infection and should avoid indoor gatherings to reduce the risk of spreading the disease to someone else.
  • A negative self-test result means that you may not have an infection. Repeating the test with at least 24 hours between tests will increase the confidence that you are not infected.
  • Ask your health care provider if you need help interpreting your test results.

Click here to access more information about other city no-cost testing sites.

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