The delta variant of the novel coronavirus now accounts for about 20% of San Antonio’s positive COVID-19 tests, city officials said during a press conference Wednesday morning. 

With the more transmissible variant present in the city, Metro Health is partnering with the San Antonio Spurs to continue encouraging unvaccinated San Antonians to get the poke.

The delta variant was first identified in India earlier this year, and is currently on track to become the dominant virus strain globally. The Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson vaccines all offer some protection against the delta strain, according to the World Health Organization

Overall, San Antonio’s COVID-19 positivity rates are low, said Mayor Ron Nirenberg during the conference Wednesday. With less testing being done overall — especially on asymptomatic carriers — 3.8% is a higher estimate than is likely present in the community, Nirenberg said. 

The 20% who have tested positive for the delta variant locally are also only reflecting a sample, Assistant City Manager Colleen Bridger said. San Antonio is on par with the rest of the U.S. positivity rate for the delta variant, she added. The delta variant has been documented in 80 countries globally and 41 states of the U.S., according to the Washington Post

“The way that we test for variants is we send a sub-sample of all of the tests to the lab and they will genotype the various results,” Bridger said. “The best way to protect yourself from the delta variant — and from other variants that we know of, or that will continue to emerge — is to be fully vaccinated.” 

More than 100,000 San Antonians have received only one of the two Pfizer or Moderna vaccinations, but they need to get both doses, Bridger said. As of Thursday, almost 58% of Bexar County’s eligible residents are fully vaccinated, with close to 73% are partially vaccinated, according to state data

“One dose of Pfizer or Moderna is not enough; two doses is,” she said. “The bottom line is that you must be fully vaccinated in order to reap the benefits or the protection that these vaccines offer.”

Assistant City Manager Colleen Bridger provides updated information on the delta variant of COVID-19 in San Antonio. Credit: Scott Ball / San Antonio Report

In its ongoing efforts to push more San Antonians to get vaccinated, the City of San Antonio announced a partnership with Spurs Sports & Entertainment to host a pop-up vaccination clinic at the AT&T Center on July 10, and another at Toyota Field on July 17, Nirenberg said. The city plans to declare July 10 “Vaccine Day,” he added. 

The events will include free Spurs merchandise, the Spurs food truck, free tickets to San Antonio FC soccer games and a raffle to win free Spurs tickets, Nirenberg said.

The majority of eligible people who are still unvaccinated in San Antonio are in the 20- to 40-year-old age range, Nirenberg told the San Antonio Report. While most of those hospitalized or on a ventilator remain people over the age of 65, the demographics of cases overall has shifted to this younger population.

It’s important these individuals get vaccinated in order to protect others who can’t get vaccinated from COVID-19, such as children under age 12, he said.

“We know that the virus is still circulating almost exclusively among people who are not vaccinated,” Nirenberg said. “And we know that the delta variant is soon to become a significant portion of cases. What we’ve found in other communities is that the delta variant is more infectious, and it’s more dangerous — but it’s also not resistant to the vaccine.”

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Lindsey Carnett

Lindsey Carnett covers the environment, science and utilities for the San Antonio Report.