San Antonio may not reach COVID-19 peak until end of January, infectious disease specialist says

10 new deaths reported Thursday by Metro Health dashboard

SAN ANTONIO – As COVID-19 cases continue to surge in the San Antonio area, the estimated date of when the city may actually reach its peak keeps getting pushed back.

According to infectious disease specialist Dr. Ruth Berggren from the Long School of Medicine at UT Health San Antonio, with hospitalizations and infections skyrocketing, the latest projections and data show the potential peak for San Antonio may not be reached until the end of January.

“The hospitalization curve is going up, up, up... our weekly infections still going up. There’s no evidence that we’ve peaked,” Dr. Berggren said. “If I had to hazard a guess and try to project based on the slope of these curves, I don’t think we’re going to peak until the end of the month... I think we have maybe another 10 days of going up.”

Once the city reaches its peak, Dr. Berggren said it could still take some time for the case numbers to level off, even spanning to the month of March.

“I’m hopeful we’ll start to level off early February and come down. It took us roughly a month to get to here. So I imagine it’ll take us about that long to get back down, which means that we’ll start to see more acceptable rates, safer rates, at the beginning of March. That’s an estimate,” Dr. Berggren said.

If someone does come down with COVID-19, the quarantine period has been reduced to five days. However, if it’s someone in your household that falls ill, it may be unclear what the next step is for family members.

According to Dr. Berggren, the guidelines could vary based on a person’s vaccination status.

“If you’ve been exposed to somebody in your household who has COVID and you don’t have any symptoms, whether or not you have to stay home depends on if you’re vaccinated and boosted or not,” Dr. Berggren said.

If you’ve been fully vaccinated and boosted, Dr. Berggren said you won’t have to stay home and isolate just because people in your household have tested positive.

She adds that you should still isolate from one another, not eat together, wear masks in the home and even use a separate bathroom to help reduce transmission.

“You’re at home and people at home have COVID, but you are unvaccinated or you’re vaccinated but you didn’t get your booster yet. In that case, you are required to stay home for five days. Monitor your symptoms. If you can, get a test on about day five. Day five is probably the optimal day to get tested after a known exposure to COVID-19,” Dr. Berggren said.

If you test positive for COVID-19 and have symptoms, the protocol says you should isolate for five days. After five days, if you have recovered and have no fever for 24 hours without medication, you should be able to return to work, according to Dr. Berggren.

However, if you are still feeling sick, she recommends taking the full 10 days to recover.

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

Thursday’s COVID-19 Numbers

San Antonio Metropolitan Health District’s COVID-19 dashboard reported 5,841 new cases and a 7-day moving average of 5,970 cases. There were 10 new deaths reported, according to the data.

Twenty-two deaths have been reported over the past seven days, totaling 5,028 since the pandemic began.

Website now live: Order free COVID-19 tests from the government

There are 1,263 COVID patients in local hospitals with 277 in ICU and 116 on ventilators. Metro Health’s dashboard shows there are 8% of staffed beds available and 63% of ventilators available.

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

Progress and Warning Indicators

The progress and warning indicators — including two-week case comparison, hospital trends, average case rate and positivity rate — are critical. Hospital stress is severe. These indicators are updated on Tuesdays.

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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About the Authors

Ivan Herrera has worked as a journalist in San Antonio since 2016. His work for KSAT 12 and includes covering breaking news of the day, as well as producing Q&As and content for the "South Texas Pride" and "KSAT Money" series.

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