On Monday, Bexar County saw the largest spike in its coronavirus positivity rate since the summer, jumping from 9.2 percent to 15.7 percent in one week. Officials said this spike is likely just the beginning of increased spread due to gatherings over the Thanksgiving weekend.
“It’s safe to assume that we are seeing the beginning of the effects of the Thanksgiving Weekend transmission.” Anita Kurian, assistant director of Metro Health’s Communicable Disease Division.
Because the positivity rate averaged out to more than 10 percent over the past two weeks Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff will close the few bars in San Antonio that do not serve food. Bar owners have until Thursday to prove to the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission that they intend to sell food or have contracted with a vendor to sell food onsite, Wolff said.
“These are very disturbing numbers,” he said. “It just doesn’t look promising for the future.”
In addition to Thanksgiving, a lot of college students traveled during the break and cooler weather makes outdoor gathering less appealing, he said. “Add all these things up, and I think you see why we’re getting into trouble.”
As this so-called “second wave” of COVID-19 infections continues to peak with no clear end in sight ahead of the winter holidays, the health department reported 1,210 new cases on Monday, bringing the seven-day average up to 993.
With 85 more patients hospitalized, bringing the total system-wide to 614, “we are starting to see a surge and it’s starting to impact our hospitals, and that’s why I think everybody needs to take this very seriously,” Mayor Ron Nirenberg said. “This is no time to let up.”
Twenty-eight of those patients are from El Paso as its hospital system struggles to keep up with infections.
Local hospitalizations have not increased as quickly as they did over the summer because most of the recent cases have been found among 20-29-year-olds, who tend to have mild illnesses, Kurian said.
More testing sites are available and more drug therapies are available, too, she added.
The virus is highly present in San Antonio, Nirenberg said.
“The recommendations about not gathering with folks and spending time with folks inside buildings with your mask off [who] are not part of your own household are in place right now,” he said. “We need to keep our distance and we need to keep our masks on in order to protect ourselves and our loved ones.”