SAN ANTONIO – With daily cases now numbering in the thousands and the positivity rate hovering just under 40%, Dr. Rita Espinosa, chief of epidemiology at Metro Health, said the highly contagious omicron variant is to blame for most, if not all of those cases.
“So that might be one of the reasons that’s contributing to the increase in cases that we’ve seen over these winter holidays,” Espinosa said.
She said from Dec. 28, 2021, to Jan. 24, 2022, Metro Health has reported 125,100 cases, which accounts for 26.9% of the 464,703 total cases throughout the entire pandemic.
Espinosa said Metro Health is closely analyzing the data to find out what more health officials can learn.
“We’ll be looking at the impact on the community with regard to the age of cases, age of hospitalizations, the age of death, and see if there’s any change in those groups,” Espinosa said.
San Antonio is now in its fourth surge over the summer and winter months.
“We’re watching the data to see when will it peak and when will we start coming down and whether the length of the surge lasts longer or about the same as previous surges,” Espinosa said.
Although there’s no doubt the surge has impacted local hospitals, she said it is too early to say whether the number of deaths have increased.
“What I can say from the previous surges, we saw fewer deaths as the surges continued on,” Espinosa said.
Although more people are vaccinated, she said breakthrough cases are possible but the vaccine can prevent severe illness, hospitalizations and deaths.
Espinosa said Metro Health also is studying national trends showing that for some victims omicron is shorter in duration and not as severe.
Even so, she said being that many people are still not vaccinated, Metro Health is urging the public to take “all precautionary measures not only to protect themselves, but to protect those individuals around them, especially those with underlying medical conditions.”
She added, “We still see fairly low vaccination coverage levels in the five to 11 year old’s, followed by the 12 to 15 year old’s.”