San Antonio’s total of coronavirus cases has surpassed 110,000 since March, and the city is on the verge of new business restrictions as hospitals admit a growing number of patients with COVID-19.
After three days of no coronavirus updates because of Christmas, city officials Sunday reported 4,426 new infections since Wednesday and 1,000 people in local hospitals, up from 945.
“COVID-19 cases continue to stress our hospitals,” Mayor Ron Nirenberg said in a statement. “Please wear a mask when you are in public, maintain social distancing and wash your hands frequently.”
If patients with COVID-19 make up at least 15 percent of the total capacity of the hospitals in San Antonio’s trauma service area for seven consecutive days, local businesses will be forced to reduce their maximum capacity from 75 percent to 50 percent, per an executive order from Gov. Greg Abbott, Nirenberg said.
The city is on track to reach day seven on Monday, with coronavirus patients now making up 16.9 percent of the trauma service area’s hospital capacity.
The Metropolitan Health District reported 1,282 new cases for Sunday alone. There were 1,102 on Thursday, 820 on Friday and 1,222 on Saturday. On Sunday, the city also added 999 backlogged cases from more than two weeks ago. Since the pandemic began, 112,218 people in Bexar County have been infected with the virus.
There were two new deaths reported Sunday, and officials added 29 previously unconfirmed deaths, bringing the total death toll since March to 1,510.
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With 136 new hospital admissions for COVID-19 reported Sunday, coronavirus patients now make up 27 percent of all patients in local hospitals, up from 18 percent two weeks ago. The figure has nearly tripled in the last six weeks.
There are 299 coronavirus patients in intensive care, up from 290 on Wednesday, and 159 patients using a ventilator to breathe, an increase from 152 on Wednesday.
In San Antonio and across the country, daily case numbers have been climbing since October. This week, the U.S. surpassed 19 million total cases and 330,000 deaths. The most recent 4 million cases have come in the last three weeks alone.
In Bexar County, more than 30,000 cases have been identified in just the last month, nearly 30 percent of the total.
The seven-day rolling average of new cases is now 1,294, the highest since the start of the pandemic. A month ago, the average was 728.
San Antonio has expanded its testing efforts to more quickly identify new cases. More than 320,000 people have visited city testing sites in the past nine weeks, more than the total from the previous 23 weeks combined and not including tests conducted by private providers.
More than 54,500 people were tested at city-run locations last week, the most in one week since the pandemic began. It was the second week in a row with a record-high number of people tested.
But more widespread testing is not necessarily the reason for the surge in cases; Bexar County’s test positivity rate has also been trending upward since early October. The rate rose to 14.4 percent last week from 12.5 percent the week before. The figure’s trajectory is designated as “severe” by city standards, and health officials expect it to rise again in the coming weeks, as it did after Thanksgiving.
Vaccines have been available only to front-line health care workers for two weeks. It will be months before everyone has access to vaccines because of limited supply.
City-run testing locations will close early New Year’s Eve and will remain closed New Year’s Day. A list of testing locations around San Antonio can be found on the city’s coronavirus website.
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