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San Antonio Health Officials Urge Vaccinations As COVID-19 Positivity Rate And Daily Average Of New Cases Double

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Joey Palacios / Texas Public Radio
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San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg holds a press conference with Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff along with city and county leaders and health officials following a rise in the COVID-19 positivity rate on Wednesday, July 14 2021

San Antonio and Bexar County leaders are strongly urging people to get fully vaccinated as both the positivity rate among COVID-19 tests in Bexar County doubled and hospitalizations dramatically increased over the last week.

The positivity rate and 7-day average of new cases are at 11.2% and 265 cases per day, according to data released by San Antonio Metro Health on Wednesday. Last week’s data showed a positivity rate of 5.4% and 126 average cases per day. The number of people in the hospital with COVID-19 also jumped from 155 to 258 in the span of a week.

City and city county leaders, and health officials held a press conference Wednesday to reinforce the importance and efficacy of vaccinations. It was the first public briefing since the semi-weekly COVID-19 broadcasts by San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg and Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff ended in early June.

About 8,600 tests were conducted over the last week with around 960 coming back positive. The last time the positivity rate was this high was January, though, testing figures were much higher with 60,000 tests and more than 6,000 positive cases.

“Fortunately there was a big difference between now and January. Back then, we were just starting to distribute vaccines. Now more than 1 million people have been fully vaccinated in Bexar County —hat’s 62% of our residents,” Nirenberg said, adding that more than 70% had received at least one dose.

Vaccinations at the Alamodome have dropped considerably with more than 2,500 doses being administered per day just a few months ago to less than 200 per day.

The vast majority of those testing positive and in the hospital are unvaccinated, health officials said Wednesday. Notably, Dr. Bryan Alsip, Chief Medical Officer for University Health, said 99% of COVID-19 patients at University Hospital were unvaccinated.

“The message could not be clearer, COVID vaccines prevent hospitalization and death. Without being immunized, you are at risk. This risk extends to those who cannot be vaccinated, such as children under age of 12 from whom the vaccine is not yet eligible and also those with compromised immune systems who may not respond as well to vaccines,” he said, adding that a more vaccinated public protects these populations.

Many of the positive cases and those in the hospital skewed younger in age.

“What we see happening is that young people are the ones that are choosing by and large not to get vaccinated,” said Wolff.

Wolff alluded to data showing only about 33% of young adults — those under 29 years old —- were fully vaccinated and only 29% of teenagers between 15 and 19 were fully vaccinated.

“We plead with all of you to get your shots,” Wolff said. “It’s free, there’s multiple places to go, and you’re putting our community in jeopardy by not doing that. I wish you would show more respect to other people other than yourself,” Wolff said.

People who are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms are encouraged to get tested even if they are fully vaccinated. Those looking to get vaccinated can find locations on Metro Health’s COVID-19 website.

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