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City prepares as hospital nears capacity

San Marcos City Council urges residents to take precautions seriously as COVID-19 cases increase
Saturday, June 27, 2020

CHRISTUS Santa Rosa Hospital — San Marcos is reportedly at capacity on any given day for COVID-19 patients, Director of Public Safety Chase Stapp announced at a special called San Marcos City Council meeting Thursday. 

Hays County COVID-19 patients needing to be hospitalized have been diverted to Austin and San Antonio hospitals up until last week, after a week of record breaking cases state-wide and hospitals in Houston coming very close to full capacity. San Antonio has seen 500% increase in hospitalizations this month.

“What we are seeing in Texas this week is alarming,” Stapp said. “Tuesday and Wednesday both set new records for largest single day increase in new cases.”

Stapp painted the severity of the crisis in San Marcos reporting 1,230 total cases Thursday after reporting 71 cases at the same meeting just two weeks prior: A 1,632% increase in just two weeks. 

CHRISTUS began keeping COVID-19 patients locally and are at capacity of treating those patients on any given day. That is different from their overall hospital capacity which is unclear. They also have three of their six ventilators in use as of Thursday afternoon. 

Once they reach capacity, they will divert severe COVID-19 patients to Round Rock or New Braunfels.

Ascension Seton Hays in Kyle is not at full capacity and has plenty of beds left, according to Emergency Management Coordinator Rachel Ingle. The majority of their 22 ventilators are also still available. 

Ingle is working with public safety officials to develop a regional plan in preparation for exceeding capacity but did not have any more details available at the time of the meeting. 

This report comes after Hays County’s announcement of 10 free testing days coming up in July from the Texas Department of Emergency Management. TDEM will also begin providing free masks to those who come to get tested. 

City Manager Bert Lumbreras warned against gathering after reports of families still having large gatherings and many testing positive, “We have seen as many as 12 people return positive. Even at private family gatherings you have the potential to expose your immediate kin that are going to have to go through this.”

Mayor Jane Hughson echoed the necessity of wearing masks after an update that Texas State University would be requiring students wear a mask when they are in groups.

“This is no joke,” Hughson said. “This is the way we live now. This is what we need to do at least for the foreseeable future.”

Discussion on continuing utility billing payment plans in response to COVID-19 will be on the city council agenda on July 7.

Later Thursday evening, the San Marcos City Council held a joint meeting with the Planning and Zoning Commission to give feedback on a project with Winter and Company to update the downtown design guidelines and architecture standards to regulate the look and feel of downtown buildings.

The dominating feedback was in support of protecting the historic and nostalgic feel of Downtown San Marcos while promoting walkability and bikeability. 

They will receive an outline for changes to the design standards and guidelines in August and a first draft in Fall of 2020. 

Any questions can be directed to planninginfo@sanmarcostx.gov.

San Marcos Record

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