SAN ANTONIO – The COVID-19 risk level that fell to the green zone of “low” in the months after the vaccine rollout has now increased to “severe.”
And it’s listed as “worsening.”
City officials base the level on hospital trends, the average case rate, the positivity rate and hospital stress as San Antonio along with other parts of the United States experience another wave of infections, many of which are the highly contagious delta variant.
As of Tuesday evening, Bexar County recorded a seven-day moving average of 1,146 new cases, an increase from 724 the week prior.
Officials also reported 920 COVID-19 patients in the hospital, an increase from 695 the week prior. About 260 patients are in the intensive care unit and 132 patients are on ventilators as of Tuesday.
Data shows that as of Tuesday, 7% of staffed beds are available and 64% of ventilators are available.
Baptist Health System CEO Matthew Stone recently told KSAT that if hospitalizations continue to increase at that rate, they could surpass the January high of more than 1,500.
“And that will be - it will be a crunch,” he said.
City spokeswoman Cleo Garcia said the city’s COVID-19 risk level was at “low” before it increased to “mild” on July 6.
It was at that level for three weeks before increasing to “moderate.” On Tuesday, the city listed the risk level as “severe.”
Public officials and health experts have upped the urge for greater health precautions while encouraging people to get vaccinated.
Dr. Rogelio Saenz, a demography professor at UTSA’s College for Health, Community and Policy, said it is likely that San Antonio could experience another spike as children head back to school.
“(A spike) is likely to be the case that the public health experts are indicating, and a lot has to do with the knowledge that specialists are now realizing with the delta variant ... these particular variants are much, much more dangerous, they’re much more contagious,” he said.
High infection levels and the delta variant caused the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to reverse its course on mask mandates. Now, public health officials are advising people to wear masks indoors, regardless of vaccination status, in parts of the U.S. with at least 50 new cases per 100,000 people in the last week.
The masking guidance will stay in place until spread is under control, but experts say the easiest solution is to boost arm jabs.
Saenz added that “one of the statistics that needs to be regularly, regularly repeated” is that the majority of people who are hospitalized or die from COVID-19 are not vaccinated.
When unvaccinated people are on ventilators and are at “death’s door,” he said, it’s often too late.
In San Antonio, about 63.4% of those 12 years or older, or about 1.05 million people, are fully vaccinated, as of July 28. About 76.8% of that age group, or 1.27 million people, have received at least one dose of a vaccine.