‘It all depends on you’: San Antonio sets record for COVID-19 hospitalizations

Andres Picon

San Antonio set a record for the number of people hospitalized with COVID-19 Sunday, pushing local hospitals even closer to reaching full capacity.

Daily coronavirus case numbers and hospitalizations have been climbing steadily for the past two months, threatening to overload the local health care system. Hospitals are becoming strained, with staff overwhelmed by a constant flood of dangerously ill patients and few remaining beds on which to place them.

“We are not out of the woods yet,” Mayor Ron Nirenberg said at the city-county coronavirus briefing Sunday. “There is a breaking point, and we don’t want to reach that.”

In the past 24 hours, San Antonio’s hospitals admitted 130 people with COVID-19, pushing the total number of infected patients to 1,439, up from 1,394 Saturday and six patients higher than the previous record, which was set Jan. 11. The number of people hospitalized with COVID-19 has increased by about 72 percent in the past month.

On ExpressNews.com: A guide to getting vaccinated in San Antonio

Patients with COVID-19 currently make up more than one-third of all patients in local hospitals. That figure has almost doubled since mid-December, and now only about 10 percent of the city’s hospital beds remain available for new patients.

“It all depends on you, how careful you are with respect to the masks, washing your hands, staying 6 feet away from someone,” County Judge Nelson Wolff said. “Just take the extra precautions.”

As of Sunday, 436 patients with COVID-19 are receiving intensive care, up from 424 Saturday, and 244 patients need a ventilator to breathe, a slight increase from 241 Saturday.

Officials reported 1,676 new cases Sunday plus 536 backlogged cases from more than two weeks ago, bringing the case total since the start of the pandemic up to 148,555. About 70,000 cases have been identified since Thanksgiving.

The seven-day rolling average of new cases dropped to 2,071, but is up from 1,694 a week ago. The average has almost tripled since Thanksgiving and nearly doubled since Christmas.

Officials added three deaths from the last two weeks Sunday and 90 previously unconfirmed deaths from between July 4 and Dec. 31. Since March, 1,809 Bexar County residents have died of COVID-19.

On ExpressNews.com: The San Antonio Express-News Vaccine Tracker

Vaccines

City officials said Monday’s vaccination appointments at the Alamodome have been pushed back to Wednesday because an expected shipment of Pfizer vaccines was delayed.

“We are hopeful that the shipment will arrive in the next 24-48 hours, allowing us to proceed with the vaccinations on Wednesday. We ask for your continued patience,” Dr. Colleen Bridger, assistant city manager, said in a statement.

Texas is currently offering coronavirus vaccines only to people in priority groups 1A and 1B, which include front-line health care workers, long-term care facility residents and employees, pregnant women, anyone 65 or older and anyone 16 or older with underlying health conditions. Supply shortages mean that it could be months before everyone has access to the vaccine, officials have said.

There are more than 1 million people in groups 1A and 1B in Bexar County, but so far, only about 61,900 of them have gotten their first dose. About 16,700 people here have been fully vaccinated, data from the Texas Department of State Health Services shows.

On ExpressNews.com: State of the pandemic in San Antonio, in Texas and across the U.S.

“Vaccine remains limited based on the capacity of the manufacturers to produce it, so it will take time for Texas to receive enough vaccine for all the people in the priority populations who want to be vaccinated,” DSHS said in a statement Sunday. “The supply is expected to increase in the coming months, and additional vaccines are in clinical trials and may be authorized by the Food and Drug Administration.”

Texas will receive about 334,000 vaccine doses this week to be used as first doses, and the state is ordering about 500,000 more shots to be used as second doses. Last week, Texas became the first state to vaccinate 1 million people, according to DSHS.

Additional information about vaccines, testing, scheduling appointments and more can be found on the city’s coronavirus website, www.covid19.sanantonio.gov.

andy.picon@hearst.com | Twitter: @andpicon


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