SAN MARCOS, Texas (KXAN) — On Sunday, Hays County reported 103 new cases of COVID-19, bringing the total number of confirmed cases to 1,711.
The cases have skyrocketed in June and that’s what led Hays County Judge Ruben Becerra to issue an order to require masks for most people, starting Monday.
“It’s been a little bit weird, a little difficult,” says Emma Shannon, Pitaya sales associate.
Shannon is one of many young adults who have been finding it difficult to navigate life during the pandemic.
“I haven’t been able to make a lot of progress on career searches or saving up money,” she says.
And when Pitaya reopened, she welcomed the income — but it came with another worry.
“I work here and I also work at a coffee shop in town and it has made me feel really anxious returning back to work after being quarantined for a couple months just knowing that I’m going to be exposed to so many more people on a daily basis,” Shannon says.
Becerra says that’s one of the reasons he issued his new order to require masks.
Many businesses, like Pitaya and the San Marcos Tattoo Emporium, already require them.
“We were hoping to get rid of the mask rules pretty recently but because of that spike we just did not feel safe doing it,” says Kaley McDonald, a body piercer at the San Marcos Tattoo Emporium.
Starting Monday, even if you walk into stores without your face mask, there’s no penalty from the county. The judge says he hopes most people will comply anyway and that the goal of the order is to raise awareness.
Shannon and McDonald hope that’s the case.
“We do have a lot of issues where people come to the door and pull on it and we’ll be like, ‘Well, you need a mask to come in,’ and they’ll get mad and leave,” McDonald says.
“The more people wearing masks more often is going to decrease the amount of people getting infected overall and so hopefully with that, we’ll see a lot less COVID cases and things can return to as normal as they could be a lot sooner than if they weren’t wearing masks,” she says.
Until that happens, both employees are glad for the extra safety.
“It’s decreased my anxiety at least a little bit,” Shannon says.
Hays County requires people ages 10 and older to wear a mask in public spaces where you can’t socially distance.
The county judge says if officials see that individuals and businesses are not complying, he may amend the order to include a penalty, like a fine, but it does not currently have one.