Hays County issues state of disaster amid COVID-19 concerns, first presumptive case

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Jaden Edison

Hays County Judge Ruben Becerra will be making an announcement on a stay-at-home order for Hays County with a curfew.

Jakob Rodriguez, Editor-In-Chief

City and Hays County officials issued a state of disaster following the county’s announcement of the first presumptive case of COVID-19.

Hays County reported its first presumptive case of COVID-19 on Saturday, March 14, according to a county press release. The patient was admitted to a local hospital, having reportedly contacted the disease during travel to multiple cities along the West Coast of the U.S., and is currently recovering in self-isolation at their residence. According to Hays County officials, the patient did not expose themselves to anyone in Hays County.

In a joint press conference today, March 15, city and county officials commented on the importance of social distancing in the midst of a pandemic and what measures each entity has taken in order to mitigate spread of the virus.

Mayor of San Marcos Jane Hughson said that it was inevitable to see a case in the area, and that the city’s emergency plan has allowed the city to reallocate resources and to utilize all disaster funding resources available through the state and federal agencies.

“Today, San Marcos, we are ordering a state of disaster,” Hughson said. “The declaration activates our emergency plan and will allow us to allocate resources and to utilize all disaster funding and resources available through state and federal agencies.”

Hays County Judge Ruben Becerra said while some residents may be confused at the heightened response from the county and surrounding cities, the measure is preventative and precautionary in nature.

“This declaration, it’s confusing, but it’s to stay ahead of things and also to solidify and also open up other channels to keep us ahead,” Becerra said.

Mayor of the City of Buda George Haenh said the public should remain calm during this time and that city officials have prioritized the safety of their constituents during this time, with this declaration from the county.

“It’s not a declaration of emergency, ‘oh my God, my hair is on fire, I gotta run around,’” Haehn said. “Obviously, we are all in this together,” Haehn said. “The biggest thing is to not panic. We got this. Will you get sick? Maybe. But there is no need to stockpile items.”

Eric Schnider, Hays County’s epidemiologist said this is “just a virus,” and that the symptoms associated with it are similar to the flu. 

“This is something that mimics the flu,” Schnider said. “A lot of people in Hays County will probably end up getting this disease. Please do not go out in public if you are running a fever. There is no magic cure for COVID-19. The majority of people, let it run its course and go back to your everyday life.”

At this time, Schneider reports that it is still unclear how many individuals have been tested for the virus as only very recently have general health care providers, rather than state officials, been able to test for the virus.

The University Star will continue to update this story as details become available. Watch the live stream of the event here.


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