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Ask The Expert: Dr. Ruth Berggren Warns Of July 4th Celebrations Amid Pandemic

Photo by Tairon Fernandez from Pexels CC0: https://bit.ly/2AqKVUA

This week, Dr. Ruth Berggren cautioned about celebrating Independence Day in big crowds. Mayor Ron Nirenberg has not closed municipal parks for the upcoming holiday weekend.

Dr. Berggren said even if people decide to celebrate outdoors, they should take precautionary measures as the risk of transmission does still exist in those spaces.

“I'd like to remind everybody that American spirit means looking out for each other,” Berggren said. “We look out for each other by wearing a mask. And do not gather in large crowds. 

If you're outdoors, still stay away from people, keep that six-foot distance. Always bring your mask with you, even if you are going outside.”

On Tuesday, San Antonio reported 1,268 new cases -- its largest single-day increase since the COVID-19 crisis began. At least 250 new cases of COVID-19 have been recorded every day for the past two weeks. 

“We have been seeing consistently — since at least the 24th of June, every single day — it's been 10% to even 19% increase in the number of cases from the day before,” Berggren said. “So if you increase on average 10% per day, you have a doubling every seven days.”

Local hospitals are nearly at capacity and have been under “high stress” for weeks, according to the Southwest Texas Regional Advisory Council. At Tuesday’s daily coronavirus briefing, the city said nearly 1,000 people were hospitalized because of COVID-19.

“Everybody is doing what they can to open up new beds. We're being creative,” Berggren said.  “We are using post-surgical acute care units for COVID patients and trying as best we can to care for our patients inside the brick and mortar hospital walls, which is the best place to take care of them.”

When local hospitals reach capacity, the city will have to use alternative facilities such as Freeman Coliseum to house and treat COVID-19 patients.

Guest: Dr. Ruth Berggren, infectious diseases specialist and director of the Center for Medical Humanities and Ethics at UT Health San Antonio; COVID-19 consultant for Bexar County and member of the City of San Antonio’s Health Transition Team

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*This interview was recorded on Wednesday, July 1.

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Kathleen Creedon can be reached at kathleen@tpr.org or on Twitter at @Kath_Creedon