The Bell County Public Health District identified three new COVID-19 related deaths on Monday as active cases rose to 356 — 52 more than Sunday.

The health district did not release any details about those who died. The total number of deaths in the county is now 735, according to the district’s COVID-19 dashboard.

Bell County, which has tallied 34,261 infections since case tracking began in March 2020, has now lost 735 residents to COVID-19, according to health district data.

On Monday, the Texas Department of State Health Services also reported a slight uptick in its regional COVID-19 hospitalizations.

The department’s COVID-19 dashboard showed the percentage of hospital beds taken up by COVID-19 patients to have increased from 3.49% to 3.51%.

Trauma Service Area L — composed of Bell, Coryell, Hamilton, Lampasas, Milam and Mills counties — now has 1,078 staffed hospital beds with 38 taken up by patients with COVID-19, according to DSHS data.

However, Bell County Judge David Blackburn is pleased to see local COVID-19 figures improve from where they once were.

“The (data) indicates a general downward trend on just about all of the charts,” Blackburn said during a Commissioners Court meeting Monday morning. “Some of the numbers that we have … are approaching some of our lowest points since the pandemic began. We’re moving in a good direction.”

Upcoming clinics

The Belton Independent School District will host a series of COVID-19 vaccination clinics through December — an effort made possible through partnerships with the Texas National Guard and the Bell health district.

Anyone aged 5 years and older will be eligible for Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine, according to the district. However, parents must be present for a minor to receive a dose.

“Our hope is that offering community-wide vaccine clinics at our campuses will make it easier and more convenient for families to get vaccinated if they choose to do so,” Marylisa Fanning, Belton ISD’s director of Health Services, said in a news release. “We are thankful to have community partners come alongside us to help make this possible.”

Four walk-in clinics are currently scheduled from 3:30-6:30 p.m. Wednesday at Chisholm Trail Elementary, 1082 S. Wheat Road in Belton; 3:30-6:30 p.m. Thursday at Southwest Elementary, 611 S. Saunders St. in Belton; 3:30-6:30 p.m. Friday at Lakewood Elementary, 11200 W. Adams Ave./FM 2305 in Temple; and 10 a.m.-2 p.m. at Belton New Tech High School @ Waskow, 320 N. Blair St. in Belton.

“We hope all community members, not just those connected to Belton ISD, will take advantage of this opportunity if it’s helpful to them,” Fanning said. “As a reminder, Belton ISD does not require staff or students to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, but we’re happy to help make it available to those who want it.”

School cases

There are 10 active COVID-19 cases — four lab-confirmed and six probable — in the Belton Independent School District spanning six campuses: three at Lake Belton High School, two at Belton New Tech High School, two at Belton Middle School, one at Miller Heights Elementary, one at Lake Belton Middle School and one at North Belton Middle School.

An additional lab-confirmed case was attributed to “other departments/buildings.”

These combined infections account for about 0.07% of Belton ISD’s population, according to the district’s COVID-19 dashboard.

Temple ISD’s seven-day report, which logged lab-confirmed COVID-19 cases reported between Nov. 9 and Nov. 15, showed two infections: one at Thornton Elementary and one at the Travis Science Academy.

Meanwhile, Salado ISD, which has tallied 164 infections this school year, reported zero cases in the past week.

“We have not had any reported cases of Salado ISD students or employees diagnosed with COVID-19 since Tuesday, Nov. 2,” Salado ISD Superintendent Michael Novotny said in his daily newsletter on Monday.

About 0.04% of Killeen ISD’s population was reported to be recovering from COVID-19 on Monday.

The district has totaled 21 COVID-19 infections — 16 students and five staff members — in the last 10 days, according to Killeen ISD.