Coronavirus

June was a record shattering month for COVID-19 in Bell County, and it ended with a surge in infections: 128 new cases — the highest daily increase reported yet.

At least 1,209 cases have been reported, according to the Bell County Public Health District. Tuesday’s record amount of infections came a day after Bell County commissioners decided to only strongly encourage mask wearing in local businesses rather than mandate it.

Bell County was not alone in seeing a record high of cases on Tuesday. The Texas Department of State Health Services reported 6,975 new coronavirus cases on Tuesday — setting a new daily record for the Lone Star State. McLennan County saw a record 162 new cases, according to the Waco-McLennan County Public Health District.

In Bell County, the positivity rate for tests — which also have increased — inched up to 4.72 percent, according to the health district. That is almost double the rate of Bell County residents testing positive for the coronavirus than on June 16 — the date when the health district started reporting that figure. On that day, the rate was 2.8 percent.

One group continues to concern Bell County’s top public health official.

“Those under 60 still comprise the majority of cases, and the number of recorded deaths is still 13,” Health District Director Amanda Robison-Chadwell said.

So far, 987 residents under 60 have contracted COVID-19 — or nearly 82 percent of all infections. Bell County residents in their 20s are the age group with the greatest number of cases, with 286 infected.

June saw 856 new cases and nine COVID-19-related deaths.

The cases reported in June account for nearly 71 percent of all reported Bell County cases and dwarfs over the 179 cases reported in May, 121 in April, and 53 in March.

It started with what are now low case counts. Between June 1 and June 10, cases ranged from eight to 21. Then, on June 11, the county saw 32 cases followed by 41 infections on June 12.

Daily increases eventually snowballed from the 30s into the 60s and now above 100.

Bell County’s six highest single-day increases have been reported in the past week, according to health district data.

On June 24, the county’s second highest daily increase was reported, with 84 new cases. The next day, 68 cases were recorded — the third highest increase. Then, on Friday, 51 infections were reported, making it the third highest single-day increase. And Monday had the fourth highest jump, with 45 cases.

jsanchez@tdtnews.com