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Hays County officials provide updates on 'presumptive positive' coronavirus case, local state of disaster declarations

The conference came one day after Hays County announced its first "presumptive positive" case of the coronavirus, also known as COVID-19.

HAYS COUNTY, Texas — On Sunday morning, officials from Hays County, as well as several cities within the county, gathered to provide updates to the public on how they are working together to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

The conference came one day after Hays County announced its first "presumptive positive" case of the coronavirus, also known as COVID-19.

Hays County Judge Ruben Becerra said Sunday that he and the Hays County clerk signed a local state of disaster declaration for the county, but said the measure was simply to continue staying ahead of the spread of the virus.

"This declaration is to stay ahead of what we're doing. We've been doing a wonderful job, and this is to stay ahead of things and also to solidify and open up other channels of resources to keep us ahead," Becerra said.

Becerra said it is important for Hays County residents to remember that "we still have lights, we still have water" and that the supply chain will continue to provide supplies, even joking, "I think we all have enough toilet paper."

RELATED: Hays County reports first 'presumptive' COVID-19 case

San Marcos Mayor Jane Hughson announced that the City of San Marcos has also declared a local state of disaster, for much the same reasons. Issuing the declaration will allow the City to activate its emergency plan and allow access to more resources, Hughson said.

San Marcos City Manager Bert Lumbreras also stated that the City isn't planning to cancel all of its events, but is going to be "very thoughtful, very preventative" and look at each event to make decisions on a case-by-case basis.

When it was his turn at the podium, Kyle Mayor Travis Mitchell noted that Kyle's chief of police informed him that while the lines are long at the city's grocery stores, the stores are able to keep up with "the strange purchasing habits" that have been caused as a result of the coronavirus. Mitchell asked Kyle residents to consider three groups of people: the elderly, who are more at risk of being seriously affected by COVID-19; "the vulnerable," including individuals who may be food-insecure; and the local business community.

Several of the officials speaking on Sunday reiterated to residents that though it is important to take the coronavirus seriously, they should not panic or hoard supplies.

"Obviously, we are all in this together. Obviously, we have to look and see how we can prevent the spread," Buda Mayor George Haehn said. "But the biggest thing is to not panic. This is not necessarily a huge emergency."

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Aside from discussing the efforts being taken to prevent the spread of COVID-19, another major topic of Sunday's meeting was the county's first reported "presumptive positive" case. Eric Schneider, the county's epidemiologist, said multiple people in Hays County have been tested but this is the first "presumptive positive" case.

Schneider said he was contacted Thursday about the patient, who had recently traveled to several cities on the West Coast. He said the patient was taken to a local hospital, where they were met outside and snuck in through a side door to ensure they had no contact with anyone in the hospital's lobby. 

"At no point did this person come into contact with any Hays County residents," Schneider said. "The threat to the public is extremely low, if not nonexistent."

Schneider said that the patient is now recovering at home. He also said that the most important steps residents can take to prevent infection are to wash their hands, stay home if they're sick and don't go out in public if they are running a fever.

"A lot of people in Hays County will probably end up getting this disease," Schneider said. "[But] the majority of people can stay home."

Schneider said if you believe you may be sick, monitor yourself at home and if you start to develop symptoms, contact your health provider. He said people should not just go to hospitals asking to be tested for coronavirus if they are not showing symptoms. Schneider said symptoms include mild fever and a cough and if residents start to develop shortness of breath or have a fever that spikes – 100.4 degrees or more on average – they should seek medical attention. He said typically, you cannot test positive until you have had a fever for 48 hours. If you do test positive for coronavirus and are not part of one of the most at-risk populations, you will be asked to self-quarantine at home until you have been fever-free for a full 48 hours.

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The final person to speak at Sunday's meeting was a representative for Texas State University, who assured residents that the school is in full cooperation with local officials and taking steps of its own to prevent the spread of coronavirus. Texas State has mandated that anyone who has traveled to a country at a CDC Level 2 or 3 self-quarantine for 14 days before returning; restricted all international and non-essential domestic travel; canceled all sporting events, intermural sports and large events and programs; and is transitioning to all online instruction.

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