Hays County leaders push back against Governor Abbott’s claims of ‘batched’ reporting

State Rep. Erin Zwiener says cases in Hays county have increased more than five times in a week

HAYS COUNTY – As cases in Texas surge, Gov. Greg Abbott placed some of the blame on the process of data input in Hays County.

As of Wednesday, Texas’ Department of State Health Services reported a total of 96,335 cases of COVID-19 in the state. The state is estimating that, as of Wednesday, there are 31,905 active cases in the state with 2,602 fatalities reported.

Related: Abbott blames 20-somethings for some of the latest increases in coronavirus cases

In a press conference Tuesday, Abbott pointed to Hays county, both an example of a county wherein a majority of the people who are testing positive in that county are under the age of 30 and as an example of a county in which surges of lab-confirmed positive cases could have been influenced by instances of error in data imputation.

“I want you to know that this is the same type of analysis that we use on an ongoing basis as we look into each and every county across the entire state of Texas to figure out exactly what is going on,” Abbott said. ”It seems like these numbers were batched together and averaged out.”

Related: WATCH: Gov. Abbott to speak on rising COVID-19 hospitalizations in Texas at 1 p.m

Tuesday Abbott reported that the number of positive cases, 2,622, is a new high for Texas, which Abbott said was due in part to a large number of tests out of an assisted living center in Collin County.

Hays County’s Communication Manager Kim Hilsenbeck responded in an email statement saying the county issues a new report, or social post each day informing the public of the new numbers.

“The Hays County Local Health Department has been reporting the new positive COVID-19 cases as they come in; just since Friday, we added 364 new positives: we had 99 new cases Friday, 142 Sat., 54 Sunday and 69 Monday,” Hilsenbeck’s email stated. “Each day we put out either a full report or at least a social post showing the new numbers.”

State Representative for Texas’ House District 45 Erin Zwiener responded in a social media post stating that Abbott’s accusations of batched reporting were inaccurate.

“Case counts in Hays County have increased more than 5 fold in a week,” Zwiener’s post stated. “I would love to meet with the governor to discuss the situation on the ground so that he can provide more accurate information in the future and help our communities respond to these alarming numbers.”

In a separate post, Zweiner stated that on Tuesday there were 155 new cases, bringing the county’s seven-day-average up to 90. In her words: “Way above the 13 from a week ago today. This is a seven fold increase! Plus with 766 actives cases, 1 in every 300 people in Hays County has an active case of COVID-19.”

The same day as Abbott’s accusations of batched reports, Hays County Judge Ruben Becerra confirmed Zweiner’s numbers on Twitter adding that the county’s numbers as a whole were trending upward.

KSAT has reached out to Becerra and the county for more information.

About the Author:

Jakob Rodriguez is a digital journalist at KSAT 12. He's a graduate of Texas State University, where he served as the editor-in-chief of the student-run newspaper, The University Star.