Coronavirus pandemic

Gov. Greg Abbott announced Tuesday that the state now has 24 counties participating in the Save Our Seniors COVID-19 vaccine program.

The program — which includes Milam County — provides drive-through clinics or goes directly to home bound seniors around the state. So far the state has vaccinated more than 62,000 people through the program.

The program is a combined effort between the Texas Division of Emergency Management, Texas Department of State Health Services and the Texas Military Department.

“Since the launch of the Save Our Seniors initiative, our partners at TDEM and TMD have worked diligently to vaccinate seniors across our state, and I thank them for their exceptional leadership and hard work on behalf of Texans,” Abbott said in a statement. “Vaccines are the most effective tool in our arsenal against COVID-19, and we will continue to invest in this program to ensure that every Texan who wants a vaccine receives one.”

The Texas Department of State Health Services also announced Monday that it would start its next phase of a campaign to encourage residents to get vaccinated.

The campaign — which will run in both English and Spanish — will cost $1.5 million and consist of the purchasing of ads on television and radio.

Officials said the ads will give information on vaccine safety, with messages targeting specific groups that are less likely to get vaccinated.

“Our research shows that individual health care professionals are the most trusted voices for people deciding whether to get vaccinated,” DSHS Commissioner Dr. John Hellerstedt said. “Over the coming weeks, we will continue to share messages encouraging various communities to get vaccinated. We are also relying on trusted voices within those communities to speak up and let their neighbors know that the available COVID-19 vaccines are safe, effective and the best way to end the pandemic and restore normalcy.”

COVID-19 rate

The incidence rate of COVID-19 cases maintained about level in the county according to the Bell County Public Health District Tuesday.

Dr. Amanda Robison-Chadwell, director of the district, said the new incidence rate dropped slightly and the county did not see any new deaths. With the lack of deaths the county’s total remains at 422.

“Our incidence rate did drop slightly to 81.6 per 100,000 and we currently have 296 active cases,” Robison-Chadwell said.

In total the county has seen 21,981 cases of COVID-19, with 21,263 recoveries.

School districts

Temple Independent School District showed that it had no current cases of COVID-19 on its dashboard Tuesday.

Belton ISD only reported having four active cases, with one at North Belton Middle School, one at Belton High School, one at Lake Belton High School and one in other departments.

Killeen ISD had 23 confirmed cases of the virus over the past week, according to its dashboard on Tuesday, with 17 cases among students and six among staff.