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High positivity rate, increase in cases prompts health leaders to encourage more people to get vaccinated

According to Metro Health, the positivity rate increased to 11.2% on July 12 – nearly doubling from last week when it was at 5.4%. On June 30, it was 3.8%.

SAN ANTONIO — City leaders, Bexar County officials and University Health medical experts gave an update Wednesday afternoon on the latest coronavirus cases and hospitalizations as the positivity rate has nearly doubled from last week. They shared information on testing locations and upcoming vaccination clinics, as well as urged residents to get vaccinated to help contain the virus.

According to Metro Health, the positivity rate increased to 11.2% on Monday, July 12 – jumping more than 5 percentage points from last week when it was at 5.4%. On June 30, it was 3.8%. COVID-19 cases in our area are also slightly up. Metro Health said fewer people are getting tested for the virus overall, and more people are testing positive.

“The virus isn’t finished with us,” San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg said. “This virus has taken too many of our friends and neighbors.”

Mayor Nirenberg shared 62% of residents have been vaccinated.

Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff added that 258 people are in the hospital – which almost doubled in less than a month. He said the problem is too many young people are not getting vaccinated compared to older parts of the population.

"If you choose not to get the vaccine, here's what's happening to people who get it – they're called long-haulers." Any young person today who chooses not to get the shot is putting themselves in great jeopardy... and leading to some devastating effects," Wolff said.

He had a simple message for young people: "I wish you would show more respect."

Claude Jacob, San Antonio Metropolitan Health's new District Director, stressed the importance of getting fully immunized.

"The best thing you can to to protect yourself from COVID-19 is to get vaccinated," he said.

Jacob said a national trend of people not returning to get their second dose is also a problem locally.

"One in 10 individuals in Bexar County has not returned for their second dose," he said. "It is not too late for those to receive their second dose."

Jacob encouraged parents to get their children vaccinated with the new school year about to begin next month.

The city has been holding several vaccine events around town to encourage people to get vaccinated. Mayor Nirenberg declared an official Vaccination Day for July 10. The city formed a partnership with the San Antonio Spurs to distribute vaccines at the AT&T Center that day, and offered merchandise giveaways and a chance to win tickets to games.

The next big sports-related event is being held Saturday, July 17 from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Toyota Field, 5106 David Edwards Drive, where the Pfizer vaccine will be available. Another incentive will be given at that event for people to win a 10-pack of tickets.

Leaders have also continued to encourage those who only received one dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine to get their second shot.

With the Delta variant spreading throughout the country, the city continues to offer pop-up clinics, like one that Metro Health has been operating at San Antonio International Airport. About 100 people a day have been showing up to get vaccinated.

Dr. Junda Woo, San Antonio Metropolitan Health District Medical Director, said local school districts have been holding several vaccine drives. Dr. Woo pointed out physical distancing in schools is three feet, not six feet as it originally was.

Assistant City Manager Dr. Colleen Bridger, said Metro Health looks at a multitude of metrics – and they need the public to pay attention to the data that is trending up.

"We are following the CDC's lead and right now the CDC is not recommending masks indoors," Dr. Bridger said. "But we will make recommendations when we think the science indicates that it's necessary."

Nirenberg added that there is still a dire need for blood donations. He asked for local organizations that can host a blood drive to do so.

Dr. Teresa Ruiz, a University Health pediatrician, said it’s important to ensure children heading back to school are as safe as possible in an environment where COVID-19 cases appear to be increasing. She encouraged children to get vaccinated if they are eligible, to wash hands and to keep wearing a mask.

There are more than a dozen of free testing sites throughout the city, Dr. Bridger said. Here's a link to the locations.

Dr. Bridger reminded everyone that those who are getting COVID-19 locally could have avoided it.

"The vast majority of people who are hospitalized are not vaccinated," Dr. Bridger said.

Judge Wolff said there were more than 100 sources on social media giving false information about vaccines and he worries that young people are getting the wrong advice.

Jacob said Metro Health is utilizing a neighborhood ambassador approach to reach as many people as possible – encouraging them to get vaccinated and to make it easier to have vaccine clinic opportunities available throughout the community.

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