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As COVID cases and hospitalizations increase rapidly in San Antonio, health officials upgrade risk level to "severe"

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As we enter year three of the pandemic, caution fatigue is widespread as the omicron variant runs rampant in communities, causing another surge in infections and hospitalizations.

San Antonio Metro Health reported nearly 3,900 new COVID-19 cases on Jan. 3 — 5 times higher than daily numbers reported last week — and a rapidly increasing number of people hospitalized with the virus, prompting the health department to update the city's risk level from "mild" to "severe."

On Dec. 22, 2021, there were 180 COVID patients in San Antonio-area hospitals. On Jan. 3, that number increased to 506. The city's health department

Omicron — the highly transmissible SARS-CoV-2 variant — has surpassed its predecessor delta as the most dominant strain. Besides its high transmissibility the omicron variant seems to also evade immunity provided by the vaccine and/or prior infection.

Even though breakthrough cases are occurring, vaccinated individuals are experiencing less severe symptoms than non-vaccinated people who become infected with the omicron variant.

What makes omicron more transmissible? When is the peak of this surge expected? Could this variant create widespread immunity?

What preventative measures should we be taking to slow the spread? What’s the latest guidance on masking and the recommended amount of times for isolation and quarantine?


  • Joey Palacios, local government reporter for Texas Public Radio
  • Katelyn Jetelina, Ph.D., MPH, epidemiologist with UTHealth School of Public Health in Houston and author of the "Your Local Epidemiologist"

"The Source" is a live call-in program airing Mondays through Thursdays from 12-1 p.m. Leave a message before the program at (210) 615-8982. During the live show, call 833-877-8255, email thesource@tpr.org or tweet @TPRSource.

*This interview was recorded on Tuesday, January 4.

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