Hays County reported 264 new cases of the coronavirus during the seven-day period from Nov. 18-24, bringing the county's total to 7,097 lab-confirmed cases of the virus. There were also 42 probable cases reported in the same week, increasing the total number of those cases to 866.
The county received reports of 55,261 tests on county residents to date. The testing positivity rate for the Nov. 18-24 period was 6.09%, with 4,334 tests reported in that time frame.
Hospitalizations continued to increase, and there were 14 active hospitalizations as of Nov. 24, up from nine a week earlier. There have been 426 Hays County residents hospitalized due to the virus, and 99 have died, an increase of six from a week earlier.
Hays County officials expressed concern of a new surge during a press call Nov. 18 in which Hays County Medical Epidemiologist Eric Schneider drew parallels between the current trend in cases and the spike in cases earlier this year.
"About the number of cases that we're seeing right now per day is about [where] we were right at the beginning of May, and then, we had the Memorial Day-Father's Day-Fourth of July surge that sent us skyrocketing and the rest of Texas skyrocketing as well," Schneider said. "We're hoping that we don't see the exact same kind of increase, but unfortunately, at the moment, we are kind of trending in that exact same pattern."
He went on to say that his department would not recommend family gatherings over the holiday season, despite the fatigue community members may feel toward the pandemic.
"If you do have to get together with your family—if it's something that you've already scheduled, and you're not going to cancel—we just want you to do it safe and do it the proper way. Outdoor picnic-style would be ideal," Schneider said. "Having large gatherings of people from all over indoors is just increasing your risk of somebody who might just be asymptomatic and could be spreading it throughout the whole family, and, definitely, COVID-19 is not one of the gifts that you want to give this year during the holidays."