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City of San Antonio, Bexar County leaders provide COVID-19 winter surge update

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SAN ANTONIO - San Antonio and Bexar County officials came together Friday afternoon to update the public about the current status of COVID-19 in our area amid a continuous surge of cases and a third consecutive week at the "severe" risk level.

Bexar County's COVID-19 risk level

The county's positivity rate this week is at 38.3%, while some Texas metros are reporting over 50%, according to San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg.

If the cases keep increasing and warning indicators continue to worsen, the county's risk level could be raised to "critical," Nirenberg noted during the news conference. He said vaccinations and boosters have been a key strategy to slow the spread of the coronavirus and keep people protected from severe illness or death.

Seven-day moving average comparison graph (COSA Metro Health)

Testing backlog

Amid a rise in cases comes the COVID-19 testing increase throughout the county, which has led to "somewhat of a backlog," according to Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff.

Metro Health Director Claude Jacob says testing has gone up to about 12,000 per day on average in the past few weeks. He said some people are waiting about two to three days to get their results back from the free public testing sites.

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If you're in need of a COVID-19 test, click here to find a location near you.

WATCH: Residents urged to take precautions amid latest surge of COVID-19 cases in San Antonio, Bexar County

Local leaders are urging residents to get vaccinated and wear masks as COVID-19 cases in San Antonio and Bexar County continue to rise.

Fake testing sites

Officials warned the community about fake testing locations that are out to steal people's personal information. Click here to learn more about what you can do to stay protected from scammers. Fraudulent sites can be reported through the Federal Trade Commission website.

COVID-19 hospitalizations

Judge Wolff said local hospitals are doing a great job handling patient inflow amid the surge.

Eric Epley, executive director and CEO of the Southwest Texas Regional Advisory Council, said there are 1,257 COVID patients in the hospital, nearing the area's highest number of hospitalized patients since the pandemic began — 1,520. He said 67% of those in the hospital are unvaccinated.

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As the omicron variant makes its way through our area, more hospital staff have had to be out due to illness. Epley said the state provided 521 additional contract staff members to help with the surge.

Epley asks the community to only head to emergency rooms in the event of an actual emergency in an effort to not flood hospitals.

Officials are also asking people to donate blood amid an ongoing supply shortage.

Vaccination among the younger population

Dr. Junda Woo, medical director of Metro Health, said only 14% of children ages 5 to 11 have been fully vaccinated. She said 35 children are in the hospital with COVID-19, and more child hospitalizations could be prevented if parents get their eligible children inoculated.

Click here to get COVID-19 resources from the city and to view the latest daily statistics.

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