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Assistant City Manager Colleen Bridger Back At The Helm Of San Antonio Health Department

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Joey Palacios I Texas Public Radio

Assistant City Manager Colleen Bridger will once again lead the San Antonio Metropolitan Health, a role that now includes coordinating pandemic response efforts, in an interim capacity following her previous successor's resignation last week.

Bridger had transitioned from the health department to assistant city manager and planned to leave that position to start a consulting practice before being called on to resume her role as health director amid a staggering surge in coronavirus infections in Bexar County.

On Tuesday, there were 1,268 new COVID-19 cases and 966 people hospitalized in the area. The city reported 439 new cases and one fatality Wednesday, bringing the death toll to 111, and hospitalizations climed to 1,019.

A total of 12,504 cases of the novel coronavirus have been confirmed in San Antonio so far.

The recent spike in cases is largely contributed to Memorial Day and Mother’s Day celebrations, and state leadership's aggressive plan for reopening Texas in hopes of salvaging an economy rocked by the pandemic.

San Antonio's health department is reportedly overwhelmed by the staggering single-day case increases, especially when it comes to its team of contact tracers' ability to track the virus' spread.

Successful contact tracing is integral to containing the outbreak. What resources are needed to boost the City's capabilities? Should individuals who test positive do tracing of their own?

What is the department's current testing capacity and will it be ramped up in response to the surge? What are the implications of San Antonio's climbing test positivity rate?

What is the plan for if hospitals reach capacity limits? Will Metro Health activate field hospitals?

Does Bridger expect another spike in cases related to 4th of July celebrations? What situations are most high-risk and which protective measures are most effective against COVID-19? 

Guest: Colleen Bridger, MPH, Ph.D., assistant city manager of the City of San Antonio and interim director of San Antonio Metropolitan Health District

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*This interview was recorded on Thursday, July 2.

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Kim Johnson is the producer for Texas Public Radio’s live, call-in show The Source. She is a Trinity University alum with bachelor’s degrees in Communication and Spanish, and a Master of Arts Degree from the School of Journalism at the University of Texas at Austin.