How long will the peak of the omicron variant last in San Antonio? The infectiologist intervenes.

SAINT ANTONY – With thousands of COVID-19 cases reported in San Antonio every day, and with even more cases across the country, many are wondering when this wave will end and when normality will begin again.

Dr. Ruth Berggren, an infectious disease specialist at UT Health San Antonio, joined KSAT’s Q&A on Thursday, saying there are already some predictions about when omicron could peak and cases plummet.

However, not all models make the same prediction, and it differs from place to place.

Dr. Berggren said that, based on a model from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, the state of Texas as a whole may have already peaked. However, the city of San Antonio is not there yet.

“…It depends on what pattern you’re looking at. If you go to the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, which is a frequently cited source, they think cases in Texas peaked around January 4 and are starting to drop. But if you look at our local data, we’re still steadily increasing, and it’s not like we’re going to plateau until the end of January,” Dr. Berggren said.

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The prediction comes after a record number of COVID-19 cases were reported by the San Antonio Metropolitan Health District on Wednesday, with 7,704 new cases in a single day. It’s the highest number of cases the city has seen in a single day so far in the pandemic.

On Thursday, cases fell slightly but weren’t far behind, reaching 5,781 cases, the data showed.

Dr. Berggren said this local increase is not surprising, given what is happening nationally. However, the good news is that the omicron variant does not cause symptoms as severe as delta in many patients.

“This is not surprising, given what we have seen around the world about the infectivity of omicron. And remember that even though these numbers are very high and increasing, we are not seeing the same degree of omicron hospitalization that we had before,” said Dr. Berggren. “We’re still seeing full hospitals, but we’re not seeing the devastating impact on mortality that we saw with the delta variant.”

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If you contract the virus, Dr Berggren said there are a few things you should do.

For starters, if you’re experiencing symptoms that aren’t life-threatening, she recommends contacting a doctor or primary care physician to determine next steps.

“If you have symptoms that don’t appear to be life-threatening, such as headache, fever, fatigue, cough, loss of smell or taste…a reasonable thing to do is to call a doctor or primary care provider and discuss your symptoms. You will be told to stay home. Don’t go to work or school, wear a mask and stay away from other people, including your own household,” Dr Berggren said. “You should do this for at least five days.”

However, there are a few symptoms you should watch out for that may indicate you need to go to the emergency room right away, according to Dr. Berggren.

“New or unusual chest pain or shortness of breath, inability to retain fluids due to vomiting or altered consciousness. A change in mental status, which would be confusion or extreme tiredness, extreme lethargy,” said Dr Berggren.

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She added that if your oxygen level is below 94% for more than a few minutes, you should go to the emergency room for further evaluation and treatment.

You can watch the full Q&A interview with Dr. Berggren in the video player above.

Thursday’s COVID-19 numbers

The San Antonio Metropolitan Health District reported 5,781 new cases of COVID-19 in Bexar County on Thursday.

Health officials also reported a 7-day rolling average of 4,841 cases. There were nine new deaths, according to the data.

ALSO ON KSAT.COM: 5 graphs show the outbreak of COVID-19 in San Antonio

There are 982 COVID patients in local hospitals, including 206 in intensive care and 73 on ventilators. Metro Health’s dashboard shows there are 9% staffed beds available and 65% ventilators available.

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On Tuesday, Metro Health’s dashboard reported a 31% positivity rate for this week, a 3.7% increase from the 27.3% reported last week.

See more of today’s COVID-19 stats and city resources for the public here.

City health officials are offering the following testing guidelines

  • Consider using a self-test before joining indoor gatherings with others outside of your household.

  • A positive self-test result means you have a infection and should avoid indoor gatherings to reduce the risk of spreading the disease to someone else.

  • A negative self-test result means that you Maybe not have an infection. Repeating the test with at least 24 hours between tests will increase confidence that you are not infected.

  • Ask your healthcare provider if you need help interpreting your test results.

Click here to access more information about other free testing sites in the city.

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