Hays County epidemiologist identifies ‘small’ spike in COVID-19 cases, has plea for Texas State students

Hays

SAN MARCOS, Texas (KXAN) — “Our numbers are staying low, but we are starting to see a small little general spike,” said Hays County epidemiologist Eric Schneider.

The Hays County Local Health department held a virtual press conference Wednesday morning to share new trends in COVID-19 data.

Schneider attributes many new cases in San Marcos to university students.

“We are seeing quite a few cases that are popping up here in San Marcos, especially in the 18 to 25-year-old age range, which does have a lot to do with our Texas State population here in San Marcos,” he said.

Schneider says Texas State University has a “great plan” that they are “executing very well on campus,” but says cases seem to be spreading off-campus.

“Social gathering, going to house parties, apartment parties, large gatherings of people who aren’t in your household contacts, that is kind of where we’re tracing back a lot of that demographic to where they possibly were infected,” he said.

Schneider says those students go on to interact with the general community in many ways, including as employees of the retail and food service industries.

He has a plea for them as they venture into the community.

“When you are on campus, I know you’re wearing your mask, I know you’re social distancing, but when you’re off campus, you need to continue those practices, please,” Schneider said.

He says cases from the university are increasing.

Rio Vista Park reopened on Wednesday. (KXAN Photo/Tahera Rahman)

The address comes on the same day Hays County’s Five Mile Dam Park and San Marcos river parks reopen.

“We ask that you please keep your parties to just your direct household; no reason to have large gatherings, large groups just because the park opened back up,” Schneider said.

That’s why Austinite Marla Hegman spent her weekday off at San Marcos’ Rio Vista Park.

“First time it’s been open for a long time, and today is my day off, I figure come out here while it’s still no one out here,” she said.

Schneider says large gatherings could set back progress in keeping the virus in check.

“We want to make sure that we don’t have a repeat of what happened back in May; we started out back in May with seeing a spike in the 18 to 25-year-old San Marcos population, and from then on that’s when we started taking off and skyrocketing with our numbers,” he said.

Texas State tells KXAN they currently have 31 students in isolation and 36 in quarantine on campus.

This is all happening as more cities are deciding to reopen. Buda will reopen most of its public facilities in about two weeks. Kyle will do the same starting Monday.

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