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Metro Health urges San Antonians to get COVID-19 vaccine amid rising hospitalizations

KTSA News/Katy Barber - San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg, center, and other city officials encouraged people to get the COVID-19 vaccine at the San Antonio Emergency Operations Center Friday, July 23, 2021.

SAN ANTONIO (KTSA News) — San Antonio city officials are asking San Antonians who are unvaccinated to take advantage of the high availability of COVID-19 vaccines as infections and hospitalizations spike to their highest level in months.

More than 95% of hospitalizations related to COVID-19 infections in San Antonio are in individuals who are not vaccinated as the delta variant of the virus has spread. 83% of the cases today are attributed to the delta variant of the coronavirus, Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff said.

“Vaccinations remain the essential factor that put us in better shape than we were a year ago,” Mayor Ron Niremberg said. “Because of vaccinations which are readily available, COVID cases are milder and our hospitalization rate is lower.”

Wolff that 418 infected individuals are currently hospitalized, which is nearly four times the number from one month ago.

Bill Waechter, President at North Central Baptist Hospital, said that 70 people were admitted to hospitals today. Of the 418 hospitalized residents, Waechter said 121 people are in the Intensive Care Unit and 50 patients are on ventilators.

Niremberg said that those who are vaccinated are still susceptible to catching COVID-19, but the vaccine is the best course of action against being hospitalized or dying. City officials said 30% of total infections are breakthrough cases. 1% of vaccinated individuals report breakthrough infections.

“It’s a little late to ask for the vaccination when you’re fixing to go on a ventilator,” Wolff said. “And I know there is a lot of people that have had to do that and a lot of people that have had repercussions coming out of the hospital.”

62% of Bexar County residents are fully vaccinated, Nirenberg said.

San Antonio Fire Chief Charles Hood is asking that police officers, firefighters and fire responders get vaccinated.

“Our citizens are still going to be in accidents, they’re still going to be injured, they’re still going to have heart attacks. [Those circumstances] cause us to potentially divert to other locations,” Hood said, noting that people in need of emergency services may not be vaccinated which could pose a danger to both parties.

“There have been 50 firefighters around this country that have died from COVID when vaccines were available,” Hood continued. “Thank God, none here.”

Niremberg said city officials will continue to follow public health experts’ advice in guiding the community on how to continue moving through the COVID-19 pandemic.

“In areas where our authority is superseded by the state, we will encourage residents to follow the advice of public health experts, including mask wearing for those who aren’t vaccinated,” Nirenberg said.

The COVID-19 risk level in San Antonio is currently set at mild, but worsening according to the Metro Health website.

Individuals who want to get tested or vaccinated can learn more at covid19.sanantonio.gov.

“We ask you to do it for you, do it for your family, do it for S.A.,” San Antonio Metropolitan Health District Director Claude Jacob said.


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