SAN ANTONIO — Like most of the rest of Texas, cases of COVID-19 and hospitalizations have skyrocketed in San Antonio and Bexar County, this week prompting Metro Health to raise the risk level for the region to “severe.”

What You Need To Know

  • Metro Health on Monday changed the COVID-19 threat level for San Antonio and Bexar County to “severe”

  • The change comes as cases increase, more residents are hospitalized and health care workers are increasingly taxed

  • Metro Health encourages everyone to wear masks in public spaces, remain socially distant and get vaccinated

  • San Antonio will expand COVID-19 testing sites in the coming days

The move was prompted by the increased burden being shouldered by health care workers, the daily case rate, two-week increases in cases and hospital trends.

Metro Health reported the current positivity rate in the San Antonio area as 27.3%, which is slightly lower than the rate for the entire state of Texas, which is currently 33.9%, according to state data.

Metro Health said it’s anticipated the omicron variant will soon account for between 90% and 100% of all new cases of the virus in the area. The health agency on Monday reported 3,894 new cases of COVID, 506 patients in local hospitals, 22 of whom are pediatric patients, and two additional deaths attributed to the disease.

“Our community is undergoing a surge of COVID-19 cases due to the fast-spreading omicron variant, and we all need to continue take precautions to protect ourselves and our loved ones,” San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg said. “While the case numbers are surging, the data indicate that vaccines are preventing severe illness. Vaccines remain the best defense against any variant of COVID-19. Get vaccinated, wear a mask and stay home if you are sick.”

Metro Health recommends everyone wear a mask, continue to practice social distancing and get vaccinated.

Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff said the uptick in serious cases is straining already-overburdened hospital workers.

“We announced last Friday with University Health, the County’s hospital district that we were going into a critical situation with hospitals. We have asked for 400 nurses and will be asking for more. People need to help us avoid filling up our hospitals by taking precautions such as masking up, sanitation and avoiding gatherings,” Wolff said.

While it was reported the region has sufficient testing capacity, San Antonio has requested expanded testing capacity at the state’s testing sites and has authorized additional testing sites to be established in the near future.

“The COVID-19 risk levels are there to inform our decisions as a community but remember that we have the tools we need to protect ourselves and our loved ones from this virus,” said Claude A. Jacob, San Antonio Metropolitan Health District director. “Getting vaccinated is your best protection from severe infection and potential hospitalization. Please continue to wear a mask, regardless of your vaccination status and encourage others to get vaccinated or obtain their booster when eligible."