Metro Health urges more COVID-19 vaccinations ahead of Thanksgiving holiday – Community News
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Metro Health urges more COVID-19 vaccinations ahead of Thanksgiving holiday

SAN ANTONIO – The San Antonio Metropolitan Health District is urging people to either get vaccinated against COVID-19 or use masks during their Thanksgiving celebrations to stay safe this holiday season.

On Tuesday, Metro Health reported 268 new cases of COVID-19, up from the 188 cases reported on Friday.

Last year, Bexar County saw an increase in COVID-19 cases over the holidays, and health officials say they don’t want a repeat this year.

“We want to make sure we’re safe. It’s our family, our loved ones and our friends,” Anita McKinney said as she prepares for the holiday.

Safety is a top priority for many this holiday season.

“We’re all getting vaccinated because — my older grandmother, she’s about 104. So we have to make sure we protect her,” Makenzie Stevenson said of her Thanksgiving plans.

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The focus on safety comes after a year of canceled plans in 2020.

“Last year we did nothing. A lot of my family was more strict about it than this year,” Danielle Flores said when she compared Thanksgiving 2020 to Thanksgiving 2021.

This year, Metro Health hopes the Thanksgiving celebrations will yield a different outcome.

“In November we had an increase. It started around this time, so we’re a little tense and keeping a close eye on the numbers,” said Dr. Rita Espinoza, Metro Health’s chief epidemiologist.

Currently, Metro Health’s COVID-19 risk level is still in the “low” category. Hospital trends, average number of cases and positivity rate are all low.

“We have to maintain that momentum. So we want to encourage everyone who is eligible to get vaccinated to get vaccinated, that it is now five years and older,” Espinoza said.

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Anita McKinney is hosting 30 people for Thanksgiving this year.

“We’re going to have a little station by the door,” McKinney explained. “We have our little thermometer, non-touch thermometer, and then we have the sanitizing stuff.”

Her guests will spread out and anyone who hasn’t been vaccinated wears a mask.

Espinoza says it’s the safest way to proceed if you have people around who haven’t rolled up their sleeves against COVID-19.

“Outdoors pose less of a risk than indoors,” Espinoza said.

The lead epidemiologist says Metro Health will monitor the cases in the weeks after Thanksgiving, especially as children and students have breaks and may be traveling.

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