Seven more coronavirus cases were reported Saturday — bringing the Bell County count to 58.
The new COVID-19 cases — involving residents from Killeen, Harker Heights, Belton and rural Bell County — came a day after Bell County Judge David Blackburn said the reported number of county cases appeared to have flattened as a result of social distancing.
Twelve people have recovered, and a Temple woman is the only Bell County death.
Bell County Health District officials said Friday that they still don’t know how many coronavirus tests have been conducted here.
Residents will need to continue to follow the local stay-at-home order until April 30, Blackburn said during a news conference Friday at the Bell County Courthouse.
“I think the measures that have been implemented so far are achieving what is intended. We have seen a flattening of the curve in Bell County. Our hospitals ... are not over capacity. Our morbidity rate is low,” the county’s top elected official said. “Our challenge now is to continue to do what we’ve been doing, so please do that and be safe.”
The new cases include three new Killeen residents: a woman in her 30s and two men, one in his 40s, the other in his 60s.
Two Harker Heights men are among the new infections: a man is in his 20s, the other in his 70s.
Other new cases reported Saturday include a Belton man in his 30s and a Bell County man in his 50s.
Central Texas spread
Coryell County now has six cases after a female prisoner at the Woodman State Jail — a Gatesville women’s prison with capacity for 900 inmates — tested positive for the coronavirus, the Texas Department of Criminal Justice announced Saturday.
The prisoner suffered from shortness of breath and was placed in “medical isolation” before she was tested outside the hospital. The test returned positive Friday, TDJC said on its Facebook page.
Another case was reported in the county was reported late Saturday.
Three of the patients are Copperas Cove residents, one lives near the city, Copperas Cove Deputy Fire Chief Gary Young said.
On Friday, Coryell County extended its disaster declaration through May 4, but no stay-at-home order has been issued.
McLennan County reported 50 coronavirus cases Friday. Of those, 15 people have recovered and one person died. Five residents remain hospitalized, four in critical condition.
Milam County has at least two confirmed cases. Falls and Lampasas counties each have one confirmed case.
Gov. Greg Abbott has told Texans to stay at home, although he has not ordered a statewide shelter-in-place order. Abbott’s directive, issued Tuesday, tells Texans to stay home except for grocery store trips and work at essential businesses.
“If you’re not engaged in an essential service or activity, then you need to be at home for the purpose of slowing the spread of COVID-19,” Abbott said.
On Saturday, Abbott held a call with Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and a member of the White House Coronavirus Task Force, to discuss state efforts to combat COVID-19 and protect public health, according to a news release from the governor’s office.
Abbott and Fauci discussed the expansion of testing in Texas. Fauci said public adherence to coronavirus safety guidelines with help slow the spread of COVID-19 in Texas, the release said.
Bell stay-at-home order
Blackburn has updated the county’s stay-at-home order to bring it in line with the governor’s essential-services-and-activities-only mandate. Both orders last until the end of the month.
Health care, energy, food and critical manufacturing are among the sectors considered essential in the state’s guidance, The Texas Tribune reported. Religious services also are considered essential.
Businesses can submit a request to the state to be added to the list of essential services.
“The overriding intent behind the governor’s order and my order is to implement the recommendations of our health authorities, with respect to mitigating the spread of the virus and aggressively and actively social distancing,” Blackburn said Friday. “That has been and continues to be the prime directive.”
Temple, Bell County’s second largest city, remains the epicenter of the local pandemic with a plurality of cases with 22 known infections.
They include a male younger than 20; two women in their 20s; two women and a man in their 30s; two women in their 40s; three women and two men in their 50s; four men and a woman in their 60s; two women in their 70s; and a woman and man in their 80s.
Killeen, the county’s largest city, now has 20 known infections. Cases include a male younger than 20; a woman in her 20s; a man and woman in their 30s; four men and three women in their 40s; a woman and a man in their 50s; two women and a man in their 60s; and a man in his 70s.
Belton, the county seat, now has six known cases, including a female younger than 20; a man in his 20s; a man in his 30s; and two men in their 60s.
Harker Heights has five cases, including two women in their 40s and a man in his 50s.
Five infected individuals are listed as Bell County cases, which includes unincorporated areas and small towns. They include a man in his 30s; two men in their 50s; a man in his 70s; and a man in his 80s.
More men are now infected than women in Bell County. They make up 56.8 percent of local cases while women account for 43.1 percent.
More Bell County residents younger than 50 — 51.7 percent — are testing positive for COVID-19 than those older than 50, now 48.2 percent.
Thaddeus Imerman of FME News Service contributed to this report.