The number of Bexar County residents hospitalized with COVID-19 reached a staggering high Monday as a wave of new cases pushed hospital systems to the brink.

In a month filled with grim milestones , San Antonio hit another one Monday, with area hospitals caring for 1,520 patients with COVID-19 — 253 more than the record set this summer, when state leaders shut down bars and mandated masks to stave off the virus.

Health officials fear the worst is yet to come. A scientific model developed to forecast the coronavirus’ spread predicts that area hospitals could be inundated with as many as 1,900 patients within the next week if the most dire scenario unfolds.

When hospitals run out of beds and staff to care for patients, medical professionals will be forced to ration care. They will be pressed to prioritize those with the best chance of short-term survival so they can save as many people as possible with resources stretched thin.

“We’ve got plenty of rooms. It’s a problem with having the staff,” said County Judge Nelson Wolff.

More than 1,400 nurses have been hired on a temporary basis to help area hospitals handle the spike, Wolff said.

At the start of January, hospitals were caring for 1,100 patients, 328 of whom needed intensive care and 178 relied on ventilators to breathe. Those figures have soared since then: Hospitals on Monday were caring for 437 patients who needed intensive care and 260 relying on ventilators to breathe.

Patients with COVID-19 now make up nearly 38 percent of all those hospitalized — more than double the 15-percent threshold that triggers the business occupancy restrictions and bar closures.

“That’s really taxing on our hospitals,” Wolff said.

Mayor Ron Nirenberg said Monday that nearly every measure that health officials use to track the virus’ grip on the community is worsening.

Officials reported 1,281 new cases Monday, bringing the total since the pandemic began to 149,836. The case rate per 100,000 residents soared to 103, up from 85 the week before. Two weeks ago, 65 cases were reported for every 100,000 residents.

The swell of new cases has brought with it a wave of new deaths. Nirenberg reported Monday that three more residents died, bringing the county’s death toll since the start of the pandemic to 1,812.

“Please do your part to protect your family and friends,” Nirenberg said.

In recent weeks, the virus has appeared to spread faster than ever. Bexar County Commissioner Tommy Calvert said Monday that he is among thousands of residents who have tested positive for COVID-19.

Calvert said he tested positive Friday, three days after county commissioners met in person for their weekly meeting. After receiving his test result, he notified the other members of Commissioners Court, who have since undergone testing that has come back with negative results. During the court’s weekly meetings, all officials wear masks and sit more than 6 feet apart.

“They were all very kind in offering their help,” Calvert said of his colleagues.

Although Calvert can’t be sure of the source of his infection because the virus rampant spread across San Antonio, the 40-year-old believes that he was exposed to the virus by a friend on Jan. 1. When he found out that he’d been exposed, he got tested on Jan. 6, which was negative.

It wasn’t until he was cooking butter basil shrimp for his dinner Thursday night that he realized he’d lost his sense of taste.

“I thought, ‘Well, I haven't cooked this for a while,’ but I didn’t think my food would be so bland,” Calvert said.

“So you know those popcorn things with three types of popcorn? I went over and tasted the caramel popcorn — I couldn’t taste the caramel popcorn. Then tasted the cheddar — I couldn’t taste the cheddar popcorn either,” Calvert said. “I couldn’t taste the chocolate pecans and I thought, ‘Oh, God. I might have COVID.”

Calvert said his only symptoms so far are a runny nose, minor congestion and a feeling of pressure in his head. He said Monday he believes he is “past the worst of it.”