Coronavirus

Two Bell County Communications Center employees have tested positive for COVID-19, County Judge David Blackburn said Thursday.

The communications center — which operates 911 services and dispatches first responders across the county — has been testing employees throughout the week. No additional details on the cases were provided during a Thursday morning news conference.

Jennifer Henager, the county’s deputy emergency management coordinator, told the Commissioners Court earlier this week that process started Monday. Results were expected to begin coming in Tuesday, she said.

“It’s a very critical piece of infrastructure for the county and for all the residents we serve,” Blackburn said. “We are in the process of testing all 100 or so of those employees.”

The county had already stepped up its health and safety procedures long before the two confirmed coronavirus cases.

“We have, since the beginning of this COVID event, had heightened screening requirements and hygiene and sanitation practices in place at the comms center,” the county judge explained. “We will continue to do that.”

Blackburn said the county is taking proactive measures to ensure there is no interruption of 911 services because of the COVID-19 infections.

County officials were planning to divide workers between the main Communications Center, 708 W. Ave. O in Belton, and the backup site set up inside the Killeen Police Department, 3304 Community Blvd.

“We’ll see what those numbers look like and then make a decision from there on how we will divide staffing between here and the backup center in Killeen,” Henager said.

The Killeen Police Department has seen three confirmed COVID-19 cases.

This is not the Communications Center’s first brush with COVID-19. Earlier this month, Emergency Management Coordinator Mike Harmon told the county commissioners that one of his employees was tested for the virus. He expected her to be cleared to work.