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COVID Tracker: Risk level back at 'medium' amid increasing hospitalizations

The risk indicator had been at the lowest threshold for nearly three months.

SAN ANTONIO — Higher holiday-season COVID-19 case counts have elevated Bexar County's risk level back to medium for the first time since late September as families prepare for gather for Christmas. 

Metro Health on Tuesday reported 518 new coronavirus infections, one of the highest counts in a month that has seen an average daily case count of 361—more than double the 160 cases that were reported on a daily basis in November. The seven-day case average, while reaching a December peak of 401, stood at 325 as of Tuesday. 

COVID-19 hospitalizations have been the key metric influencing the Bexar County risk indicator for some months, and on Tuesday there were 183 patients in local hospitals; that's the most since Sept. 15, shortly before hospitalization numbers started dwindling and the risk level dropped to low. Hospitalizations are up 54% since Dec. 1. 

Of those 183 patients, 31 are in intensive care and five are using ventilators. Nearly 665,000 COVID-19 infections have been reported in the San Antonio area since the pandemic began, and at least 5,541 residents have died from virus complications. 

Metro Health has not announced any pop-up vaccine clinics ahead of Christmas weekend. 

How Bexar County is trending

Credit: KENS
Credit: KENS

Vaccine progress in Bexar County

The following numbers are provided by San Antonio Metro Health. A full breakdown can be found here.

  • 1,492,181 eligible Bexar County residents are fully vaccinated as of Dec. 5, which amounts to more than 75% of the total population over 6 months old. 
  • 168,054 eligible Bexar County residents have received a COVID-19 bivalent booster shot as of Dec. 5, which amounts to more then 9% percent of the population over 4 years old. 

The CDC states that "when a high percentage of the community is immune to a disease (through vaccination and/or prior illness)," that community will have reached herd immunity, "making the spread of this disease from person to person unlikely."

The City of San Antonio breaks down the vaccination rates by zip code on Metro Health's Vaccination Statistics page.

Coronavirus in Texas

The Texas Department of State Health Services has transitioned to weekly COVID-19 reports, with new data arriving every Wednesday. 

For the week of Dec. 8 to Dec. 14, the state reported 30,270 cases; that total includes 18,021 new confirmed cases and 12,249 new probable cases. More details can be found on this page

Those figures bring the total number of Texans diagnosed with COVID-19 to more than 8.05 million

Meanwhile, 88 additional virus-related deaths were reported for that week in Texas. The statewide death toll stands at 90,003.

Coronavirus symptoms

The symptoms of coronavirus can be similar to the flu or a bad cold. Symptoms include fever or chills, cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, fatigue, muscle or body aches, headache, new loss of taste or smell sore throat, congestion or runny nose, nausea or vomiting, and diarrhea, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

Most healthy people will have mild symptoms. A study of more than 72,000 patients by the Centers for Disease Control in China showed 80 percent of the cases there were mild.

But infections can cause pneumonia, severe acute respiratory syndrome, kidney failure, and even death, according to the World Health Organization. Older people with underlying health conditions are most at risk.

Experts determined there was consistent evidence these conditions increase a person's risk, regardless of age:

  • Chronic kidney disease
  • COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease)
  • Obesity (BMI of 30 or higher)
  • Immunocompromised state (weakened immune system) from solid organ transplant
  • Serious heart conditions, such as heart failure, coronary artery disease, or cardiomyopathies
  • Sickle cell disease
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • The CDC believes symptoms may appear anywhere from two to 14 days after being exposed.

Human coronaviruses are usually spread... 

  • Between people who are in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet).
  • Through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs, sneezes or talks. These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs.
  • Some recent studies have suggested that COVID-19 may be spread by people who are not showing symptoms.

Help stop the spread of coronavirus

  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Eat and sleep separately from your family members
  • Use different utensils and dishes
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with your arm, not your hand.
  • If you use a tissue, throw it in the trash.

Find a testing location

City officials recommend getting a COVID-19 test if you experience fever or chills, cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, fatigue, muscle or body aches, headache, new loss of taste or smell, sore throat, congestion or runny nose, nausea or vomiting, or diarrhea.

A self-screening tool is available to see if you need a test.

Here's a Testing Sites Locator to help you find the testing location closest to you in San Antonio.

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