On Dec. 29, Hays County reported 46 of its residents were actively hospitalized with cases of the coronavirus—a 70% increase from a report published Dec. 22 when there were 27 hospitalizations.

However, the total number of residents hospitalized due to the virus increased by 46 between the two reports. There have been 545 recorded COVID-19 hospitalizations since the pandemic began.

In the Dec. 29 report, Hays County Epidemiologist Ian Harris urged the public to take note of the rapid spread of the virus and take precautions.

“Our best course of action right now, to mitigate fatalities and to avoid shutdowns and closures, is to take this virus seriously and do whatever we can to slow the spread,” he said. “That means staying home unless necessary, avoiding gatherings of people and celebrating New Year’s at home this year. It’s our best chance to get a handle on COVID-19.”

The county reported 2,286 cases were active within the three weeks preceding Dec. 29.

There were 1,306 lab-confirmed cases of the coronavirus reported by the county between Dec. 22 and Dec. 29, bringing the total to 10,481. Probable cases increased from 1,084 to 1,205 during the same time period.

Notably, 476 of the lab-confirmed cases were Curative tests from November and early December the county says it did not receive in a timely manner. Because they were older than three weeks, they were not included in the most recent active case data, according to the county.

Accounting for the curative tests, 844 new lab-confirmed cases were reported over the previous 8 days, or an average of 103.75 cases per day.

Active cases in San Marcos increased by 100 in the same time period. Kyle and Buda rose by 60 and 82, respectively. In Wimberley, active cases nearly doubled from 37 to 72.

Three new deaths were reported since Dec. 22, including a woman in her 60s from Buda. Two men in their 70s, one from Buda and the other from Dripping Springs, also died.

In nearby Comal County, bars were ordered to close and the capacity of retail establishments was reduced to 50% when coronavirus patients exceeded 15% of hospitalizations in Texas' Trauma Service Area P for seven consecutive days.

On Dec. 29, Travis County mandated that all bars and restaurant service end early over New Year's weekend.