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Daily Record infographic by Colton Ashabranner

The Unknown Toll: Telling the stories of those lost to COVID-19

Daily Record Editorial
Tuesday, March 9, 2021

Hays County will reach a grim anniversary on Sunday. 

On March 14, 2020, the Hays County Local Health Department reported its first presumptive positive COVID-19 case. Since then, the county has recorded over 16,500 lab-confirmed cases. 

In less than a year’s time, Hays County has seen 229 of its residents die from the disease, including 90 San Marcans. 

Since the pandemic arrived in Hays County, we’ve been reporting on the toll it's taken on residents, businesses and the lives we live amid the “new normal.” Yet, we have been hindered in our ability to tell the stories of those lost. 

We are able to provide only a few tidbits about those who die from COVID-19 — age range and city residency. Hays County doesn’t provide any additional information about those who’ve died. Understandably so, the county is following the federal law restricting release of medical information. 

But as we reach this somber anniversary, we hope you’ll allow us to tell the stories of the loved ones that were lost to COVID-19 over the last year. We at the Daily Record don’t aim to share nor exploit your grief — which is personal and private. Rather, we hope to paint a picture of their lives before COVID-19, who they were, how they spent their days and what made them who they were. 

As we approach the anniversary of COVID-19 entering Hays County and reshaping our daily lives, it appears a brighter future may be near. The emergence of three vaccines approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration — Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson — gives us hope that we may soon return to a sense of normalcy. According to the Texas Department of State Health Services, 32,207 Hays County residents have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, and 16,793 have been fully vaccinated. Vaccine efforts continue to improve as the local health department continues to receive more COVID-19 vaccine doses each week — from 1,900 doses per week in late January to nearly 5,000 in early March. 

The spread of COVID-19 has also slowed in Hays County from hundreds of new cases reported each day between December and January to numbers now in the double digits. However, we have yet to see the full effects of Winter Storm Uri, the emergence of new viral variants or the lifting of the state’s mask mandate, which goes into effect on Wednesday. 

While the end of the COVID-19 pandemic may seem near, the unknown toll Hays County has seen deserves more attention.

Those lost over the last year shouldn’t be forgotten. Help us tell their stories. 

If you’d like to share your loved one’s story or talk to a reporter, email ncastillo@sanmarcosrecord.com

San Marcos Record

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P.O. Box 1109, San Marcos, TX 78666