In-person jury trials scheduled in the first two weeks of January will be postponed due to the surge of coronavirus infections in Bexar County, officials confirmed on Friday.
The decision was announced by administrative Judge Ron Rangel, who oversees operations at the courthouse.
“After consulting with public health officials and out of concern for the health and safety of all who enter Bexar County courthouses, I’ve decided to suspend all in-person jury trials for the first two weeks of January,” Rangel told KSAT 12 News. “We wish all members of our community a safe Happy New Year.”
Civil courts will also continue with their current COVID-19 protocols through Feb. 1, officials confirmed. Previously, civil courts were set to implement looser protocols starting Jan. 4.
The announcement comes shortly after city and county leaders held a press conference Friday morning, urging residents to take all precautions to prevent the spread of the virus as the omicron variant surges.
“As we prepare to celebrate the New Year, we ask that Bexar County residents exercise caution to avoid infection from the coronavirus and help prevent spreading it to others,” Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff said. “All of us must be on guard now that omicron is the dominant variant in the community.”
As coronavirus cases surge across the country because of the fast-spreading omicron variant, Bexar County is also seeing a spike in new cases.
Metro Health’s COVID-19 website reported 733 new COVID-19 cases Thursday, bringing the total number of new cases to 2,942 so far this week. That includes 957 new cases Monday, 828 on Tuesday, and 424 on Wednesday.
Dr. Ruth Berggren, an infectious disease specialist with UT Health San Antonio, joined the KSAT Q&A on Thursday to discuss the latest rise in omicron COVID-19 cases and what people should do before seeking help at an emergency room.
“We’re seeing surges, and the positivity rate at the university is as high as we’ve ever seen it, with 31.5% of the people being tested coming back positive. So this is largely omicron at this point,” Berggren told anchor Stephania Jimenez during the Q&A on Thursday’s 6 O’Clock News. “And people have gotten the message that Omicron is highly infectious, more infectious than delta, but less lethal, and that is true.”
There are 352 patients in area hospitals, with 70 in the ICU and 30 on ventilators, according to Southwest Texas Regional Advisory Council hospital data on the Metro Health COVID-19 website. There are 10% of staffed beds available and 67% of ventilators available in our area hospitals.