San Antonio hasn’t reached COVID-19 winter peak yet, but hope is on the horizon, infectious disease expert says

Metro Health reported 4,297 new cases and a 7-day moving average of 5,059 cases on Thursday

SAN ANTONIO – Although San Antonio is nearing the tip of its COVID-19 surge winter peak, the city hasn’t quite reached the summit yet.

According to Dr. Ruth Berggren, an infectious disease specialist with UT Health San Antonio, data shows the omicron variant is still ravaging through the community as cases continue to increase.

However, she said the infection rate could start to decline as soon as next week.

“I wish I could tell you that it’s already coming down... The progress and warning indicators show that the rate of rise is certainly slowing down. But we’re at 39.4% positivity in the community. That’s up 1.1% from last week,” Dr. Berggren said. “The rate of rise is slowing down, which signals to me that by next week, we may well be looking at a lower community positivity rate... That gives me hope, and I feel encouraged. But we haven’t started going down the hill yet.”

Once the city does reach its peak, the battle is still far from over.

Dr. Berggren said it took the city about a month to reach its peak in COVID-19 infections, and it could take just as long for the risk level to return to normal levels.

“Even if we are going down starting today or tomorrow, it took us a month to get to the top of the mountain. And it’s going to take probably an equal amount of time to get down. So people still need to be really careful,” Dr. Berggren said.

Aside from the uptick in COVID-19 cases, concerns are rising in regards to the newest COVID-19 variant, BA.2, or “stealth omicron.”

The new variant isn’t all that surprising to health officials, given the high infection rate being seen globally, which can allow the virus to mutate.

According to Dr. Berggren, there’s still no reason to panic, as little is known about its severity or threat level.

“The main thing I know about stealth omicron is that it’s not surprising. That as long as we are allowing COVID-19 to propagate through populations and not controlling it, it will mutate. That’s what viruses do. Generally speaking, the variants that will emerge are gonna be the ones that are most successful in propagating,” Dr. Berggren said. “That’s gonna mean variants that are more infectious. So it’s not surprising at all. What we don’t really know is whether this will be significant in terms of making people sicker.”

In the meantime, health officials are reminding the general public to get their COVID-19 vaccinations and their booster shots to help mitigate the virus spread and ease symptoms.

Residents are also encouraged to wear face masks when in crowded, public areas and to get tested if they begin experiencing symptoms.


Thursday’s COVID-19 Numbers

Metro Health’s COVID-19 dashboard reported 4,297 new cases and a 7-day moving average of 5,059 cases. There were 7 new deaths reported, according to the data. Fifty one new deaths have been reported over the past seven days, totaling 5,079 since the pandemic began.

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There are 1,289 COVID patients in local hospitals, with 263 in ICU and 123 on ventilators. Metro Health’s dashboard shows there are 9% of staffed beds available and 60% of ventilators available.

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

Weekly progress and warning Indicators

San Antonio Metropolitan Health District reported a COVID-19 positivity rate of 39.4% this week, a 1.1% change from last week’s rate of 38.3%.

This week’s risk level remains at “severe” and is worsening, officials said.

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

These indicators and the positivity rate are updated on Tuesdays.

ALSO ON KSAT.COM: Metro Health reports 125,100 COVID-19 cases since late December

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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