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Health officials ask people to avoid New Year's Eve parties; city leaders hold news conference

With the omicron variant being "extremely transmissible," doctors and city leaders urged people to stay home, mask up and get tested if they feel sick.

SAN ANTONIO — Local health leaders from University Health, city officials and the Bexar County Sheriff's Office held a news conference Friday morning to discuss the latest on the COVID-19 in our area as New Year's Eve celebrations approach. Their main message: take precautions to stop the spread.

University Health officials said they are seeing more healthcare workers becoming sick lately. Dr. Bryan Alsip of University Health reminded people that the omicron variant is extremely transmissible.

Mayor Ron Nirenberg said eight out of 10 Bexar County residents are vaccinated and eight out of 10 people hospitalized are not. He said, "Let that sink in."

Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff said the current situation is likely to lead to a nursing shortage and nurses from other areas will need to be brought in. He also said shared he has a family member who is sick as he urged people to get vaccinated.

So far this week, nearly 3,000 new COVID-19 cases have been reported in San Antonio since Monday. Even so, the city's official New Year's Eve celebration "Celebrate SA" is expected to draw thousands of people to downtown Friday night. The event went virtual in 2020.

On Thursday, UH put out a warning to San Antonians, saying everyone should avoid parties and crowds to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

The latest numbers released on Thursday showed 352 Bexar County residents were hospitalized with COVID-19. That's the highest that number has been since mid-October.

UH officials said its emergency rooms are seeing "a huge spike in patients."

Officials from Metro Health cited omicron as the dominant coronavirus strain in our area.

"The spread of COVID is happening across the community, including among health care workers," UH said in a news release on Thursday. "We need everyone to do all they can to help prevent a real crisis in our community."

UH also said emergency room trips should be reserved only for a "true emergency," adding that the first point of contact for those experiencing COVID-19 symptoms should be their primary care provider.

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