Coronavirus

The Bell County Public Health District announced three new COVID-19 related deaths on Monday, as active cases spiked to 859.

These fatalities, which brought the death toll to 107, were for a man in his 80s from Temple, a man in his 70s from Belton and a man in his 70s from in an unincorporated region of Bell County, according to the health district.

Bell County has now totaled 7,443 cases, and at least 6,584 people have reportedly recovered to date. This was the health district’s first dashboard update since Friday.

Health District Director Amanda Robison-Chadwell said this “third wave” of COVID-19 is “definitely concerning.”

“This wave has been moving rapidly across Texas, which now has the largest number of cases of any state,” she said in a news release. “COVID fatigue is also having an impact with more people letting their guard, attending more family and community events, and unknowingly contributing to the spread.”

Texas reportedly surpassed 20,000 confirmed coronavirus deaths Monday, according to researchers from Johns Hopkins University. That is the second-highest death count overall in the U.S., trailing only New York. It’s the 22nd-highest per capita at 69.7 deaths per 100,000 people.

Robison-Chadwell asked residents to be mindful of the risk the Thanksgiving holiday can impose on future cases.

“We know how quickly this virus can move through a household and disrupt everything for a family, and the potential for spread is greatly multiplied when people from different households gather and share a meal,” she said. “For this reason, the Bell County Public Health District urges you to limit family gatherings and travel this Thanksgiving.”

However, the health district has repeatedly stressed these limitations should not apply to just holiday gathering.

“We also strongly encourage you to limit all non-essential and social activities in order to help prevent putting an undue strain on our hospitals, health care workers, and essential services, Robison-Chadwell said. “In order to avoid that we need your help.”

Bell County Judge David Blackburn encouraged residents to remain vigilant during a Commissioners Court meeting on Monday.

“We need to heed the advice and counsel of our health authorities and continue to be vigilant in our COVID health protocols,” Blackburn said. “Maintaining social distancing, wearing our face coverings when we are out and about and can’t maintain social distancing and washing our hands frequently remain our best line of defense against COVID.”

His statement came after local hospital system administrators noted how COVID-19 is impacting hospital bed capacity.

“Baylor Scott & White currently has 46 COVID patients — the highest census of COVID patients since mid-August,” Blackburn said. “While Baylor Scott is below the governor’s 15 percent threshold number requiring elective surgeries to cease, I am advised they are not currently scheduling any new elective surgical cases that require a hospital bed for the first part of this week.”

Local school districts

Temple Independent School District’s seven-day dashboard, which logged cases reported between Nov. 10 and Nov. 16, shows 23 infections: 14 at Temple High, three at Bonham Middle School, one at Lamar Middle School, one at Travis Elementary, one at Kennedy-Powell Elementary and three attributed to “auxiliary.”

“We have four days to make it to Thanksgiving and I would suggest that our families and our students remain diligent with safety protocols,” Temple ISD Superintendent Bobby Ott said.

Ott stressed how this expected high-level of diligence should not be limited to when students are on campus. 

“But while they’re out of school too, because we have had an increase in cases,” he said. “We’ve been doing such a good job with case management that we really need to stick with what’s working … and that’s the diligence to safety protocols and not being careless.”

The Belton Independent School District has 15 active cases of COVID-19 spanning nine campuses: three at Belton High, two at Lake Belton High, two at the Belton Early Childhood academy, two at Lakewood Elementary, two at Pirtle Elementary, one at Belton New Tech High, one at Miller Heights Elementary and one at Tarver Elementary.

Belton ISD has an additional case attributed to “other departments / buildings,” according to district data. These 16 cases represent about 0.11 percent of Belton ISD’s population.

The Killeen Independent School District has reported 49 lab-confirmed cases in the last seven days. These cases, which stem from 25 students and 24 staff, brought the district’s cumulative total to 345 since March 16.

However, student tracking first began on Aug. 17, when the district’s school year began.

Salado Independent School District’s last reported case of COVID-19 was recorded on Friday. The district has five active cases, Superintendent Michael Novotny said.

BELL COUNTY CASES

Total cases: 7,443; 6,584 recovered; 859 active, 143 more than Friday; 107 dead*, 75 with comorbidities

In Trauma Service Area L (Bell, Milam, Coryell, Lampasas, Hamilton and Mills counties) there are currently 65 people hospitalized, 8 more than Friday

Temple: 2,422 cases (89 more than Friday), 43 deaths

Killeen: 2,686 cases (83 more than Friday), 31 deaths

Belton (76513 ZIP code): 970 cases (21 more than Friday), 16 deaths

Harker Heights: 496 cases (14 more than Friday), 8 deaths

Other: 869 cases (24 more than Friday), 9 deaths

*Death totals include numbers from state death certificates, which were added to state totals starting July 27. Fort Hood on-post numbers are reported directly to the state and are added to total cases. Other numbers reported from the Bell County Health District based on 63,307 tests administered. State totals may vary as Fort Hood on-post numbers are reported directly to the state.

Go to https://tinyurl.com/y3pafeu7to access the new Bell County COVID-19 dashboard.