Sicilians, along with other Italians continue to emphasize outdoor dining to limit the spread of Covid 19. Above is a street in Noto, Sicily.
I’m not home but my phone is still ringing. Never a good sign. Now things continue to get worse as far as the number of people infected. The first article that follows is from the San Antonio Report with local news. Then we have some national news on a follow up to the FDA meeting June 28th on Vaccine recommendations. The bottom line isn’t’ new. When cases go up you exercise more caution and wear a good mask when you are in crowded situations that you can’t avoid. Now is the time to put your mask back on when you are grocery shopping and pick times when the fewest people will be there. Make sure you have some home test kits. They might not be as accurate with lower levels of virus present in the nasal passages, but they can give you information to let you know if you are infectious.
COVID transmission is once again high in Bexar County; indoor masking recommended
This story has been updated.
Local health officials raised San Antonio’s COVID-19 risk level to high this week after warning of a “silent surge” just two weeks ago.
That surge continues, according to data from the city’s Metropolitan Health District, which is documenting an increase in new cases and hospitalizations.
As the July Fourth holiday approaches, San Antonio Metropolitan Health District chief Claude Jacob urged folks who will be getting together with friends and family to follow COVID-19 prevention strategies: “mask up in crowded indoor places, get tested if you have been exposed or have symptoms and stay up to date with COVID-19 vaccine and boosters.”
Dr. Bryan Alsip, chief medical officer at University Health, said the curve is starting to rise again, “but it’s not as steep an increase. It doesn’t look like the previous waves, not yet, so I think we have to wait and see how that turns out.”
The actual number of COVID-19 cases are suspected to be much higher than what is officially reported, as most people aren’t reporting positive home tests to any health authority.
Metro Health does not collect at-home test data, a spokeswoman said. Some rapid test kits include a way to report results through a mobile app, she noted, and urged everyone who uses a self-test to report positive results to their healthcare provider.
Alsip echoed Metro Health’s prevention strategies, noting that most people have stopped wearing masks. “Now that we know that the data support this high level [of transmission], while we’re in that higher risk timeframe, it would be a good additional layer of protection.”
He also warned that COVID-19 can now include a constellation of symptoms beyond the fever, cough and shortness of breath that characterized the disease at the beginning of the pandemic.
Anyone with allergy or cold symptoms, or gastrointestinal symptoms like nausea, vomiting and diarrhea should get tested, he said.
While earlier in the pandemic, people were urged to isolate for 10 days or more, these days, symptoms may only last one to two days, Alsip said, meaning isolation doesn’t have to last as long.
But, he added, because so many now have mild symptoms, it is more likely that people are coming into contact with others before they’re aware that they are contagious and need to isolate, furthering community spread.
The uptick in Bexar County’s COVID-19 cases likely include BA.4 and BA.5 subvariants of omicron, mirroring national trends; up to half of all cases nationwide are from those subvariants. In April, the BA.2 subvariant made up more than half of cases locally.
At-home COVID-19 tests are now widely available; people can order free tests from the federal government. Metro Health also maintains a list of community testing sites.
Though the increase in COVID-19 cases is beginning to reflect in hospital admissions at University Health and other hospitals, beds remain available.
As of Thursday, Metro Health’s COVID-19 dashboard reported a seven-day moving average of cases at 880, with 815 new cases reported. The rate of hospitalizations, now at 14.7 per 100,000 people, has risen by 4.6 over the past week. Three deaths were reported over the past seven days; the reported cumulative death toll for Bexar County since the pandemic began is 5,339.
Health officials continue to urge residents to vaccinate and get boosted.
A list of pop-up vaccination clinics can be found online or by call 311; select option 8. No appointment is needed. Metro Health continues to offer a $100 H-E-B gift card while supplies last for those who have yet to be fully vaccinated.
University Health continues to offer free COVID-19 vaccines for children ages 6 months to 5 years on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 7:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at the Robert B. Green campus downtown. Appointments can be made at WeCanDoItSA.com.
Now for the latest on vaccines, a couple of articles.
Leading the News
Omicron-targeting COVID-19 vaccine boosters to roll out in the fall
The Washington Post (6/30, Johnson) reports, “This fall, vaccine makers will begin rolling out coronavirus booster vaccines better tailored to fight the current phase of the pandemic.” The FDA “announced that the fall shots would include a component from BA.4 and BA.5, the Omicron subvariants gaining ground in the United States.” Though “the precise formula has not been tested in people yet…studies showed that vaccines tuned to fight a previous version of Omicron modestly increased the short-term immune response in people compared with more shots of the original.”
The New York Times (6/30, Weiland) reports this “decision came just two days after the agency’s committee of independent vaccine experts overwhelmingly voted for regulators to adopt more advanced vaccines tailored to forms of Omicron.” The FDA “recommended that manufacturers produce a so-called bivalent vaccine targeting BA.4 and BA.5 along with the original coronavirus.”
The AP (6/30, Neergaard, Perrone) reports, “Pfizer and Moderna already were brewing and testing boosters updated against the first Omicron mutant in anticipation of an October rollout.”