FEMA to open COVID-19 test site in Bexar County as threat level upped to ‘Severe’

SAN ANTONIO (KTSA News) — The same day that Bexar County was approved to house a new FEMA COVID-19 test site, the city of San Antonio’s coronavirus threat level jumped from ‘mild’ to ‘severe.’

Gov. Greg Abbott announced Friday the state’s request for additional resources and the Houston Chronicle reported today the request was approved.

Bexar County is one of six Texas counties to open the new testing sites that also includes Cameron, Dallas, Harris, Hildalgo and Tarrant counties. The counties were chosen because of high The test sites are expected to open next week, according to a FEMA spokesperson.

Abbott also requested additional extra medical personnel and doses of monoclonal antibody treatment effective against the Omicron variant sotrovimab. The treatment was unavailable in San Antonio last week as the supply of doses was totally depleted.

The move comes as the Omicron variant surges across the country, accounting for more than 90% of total cases.

“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,” said Mayor Ron Nirenberg. “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.”

According to the City of San Antonio’s COVID-19 surveillance dashboard, there were more than 2,000 new cases of the virus reported in Bexar County. Metro Health reported there was a more than 25% increase in positive tests from the week of Dec. 11-17 to Dec. 25-31.

Hospitalizations saw a sharp increase and Metro Health reported on Monday that 13% of hospital beds are currently available. On Dec. 25, 202 people were reportedly hospitalized with COVID-19 and that figure was updated to 506 patients yesterday which includes 22 pediatric patients.

A screenshot from the City of San Antonio COVID-19 Dashboard on January 4, 2021.

“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,” said Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff.

Anyone who needs assistance with find a test site or to get vaccinated can call 3-1-1.

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