Though more than a week has elapsed since the Labor Day holiday, local officials are still not sure of the impact that related gatherings might have had on local coronavirus cases.
On Tuesday, Bexar County reported 775 new coronavirus cases, with the positivity rate dropping by half a percentage point from last week to 7.1%. Six more people have died from COVID-19 as well; last week, Bexar County passed 4,000 coronavirus deaths.
With the positivity rate dropping weekly since it’s high of 21.4% in early August, San Antonio Metropolitan Health District Director Claude Jacob said he remains “cautiously optimistic” about the area’s COVID-19 situation.
“What we’ve been reporting in the last two weeks is that we still remain at a moderate risk level,” he said. “As you can recall, this COVID experience has been something that’s kept us on our toes. … We’ve reported a decrease in our overall positivity rate as well as our overall pace rate per 100,000. We remain vigilant, we remind residents to mask up to get vaccinated, to maintain the appropriate social distancing are possible, but by all means to be safe out there.”
Jacob added that Metro Health would continue monitoring COVID-19 indicators over the next week or so to assess how Labor Day gatherings may or may not have affected the area.
“We’re not out of the woods yet,” he said.
Hospitalization rates have also been slowly trending downward. As of Tuesday, there were 1,016 patients hospitalized for COVID-19 in the area, with 329 of those in intensive care and 194 on ventilators. Of those hospitalized, 84% were unvaccinated and 20 were children.
But the level of hospital activity remains a concern, Mayor Ron Nirenberg said. “We have contingent teams of nurses that are in from out of town. We have people working triple time at the hospital. So we’re still at a level of activity where it would be a big mistake to let up with our mitigation.”
Nirenberg reminded residents that Metro Health will soon begin distributing $100 H-E-B gift cards as an incentive to get vaccinated, though no firm date has been scheduled yet. Jacob said before the end of the month, the health department would start giving those to people who get vaccinated at one of its pop-up clinics.
University Health also stands ready to restart the Wonderland of the Americas mass vaccination site next week, depending on what the Federal Drug Administration decides to recommend as far as booster vaccines, said Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff. He also encouraged people to get their flu shots soon, as the county will be distributing free flu shots at the Freeman Coliseum from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. on Saturday. Register for a flu shot here.