Seven new COVID-19 deaths were reported by the Bell County Public Health District Monday even as it lowered its threat level for the virus.

Data from the district shows the new deaths bringing the county’s total during the pandemic to 704. County officials also lowered the COVID-19 threat level in the county on Monday from Level 2, significant uncontrolled community transmission, to Level 3 which is moderate, controlled transmission.

The county has four threat levels, ranging from Level 1 at the highest to Level 4 at the lowest. Earlier this month, on Oct. 11, the county moved down to threat level 2 after having a threat level of one, which is severe uncontrolled community transmission.

“Bell County Public Health District changed the threat level on the COVID-19 dashboard from a level one to a level two this week,” Nikki Morrow, interim director for the district, said. “We monitor for a 2-week consistent trend before we change the threat level either way. The last two weeks we have seen a downward trend in the incidence rate for our area.”

COVID-19 data

Locally, the district reported a slight increase of active cases on Monday, with cases rising to 438 from 407 on Sunday. The decrease in active cases has also been reflected in the incidence rate, which is now 120.69 cases of the virus per 100,000 residents in the county.

The county has seen a total of 33,504 reported cases of COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic, with 32,367 of those having recovered so far.

On Tuesday, the Texas Department of State Health Services showed hospitalizations of patients with the virus rose in Trauma Service Area L — which includes Bell County.

The percentage of hospital beds taken up by COVID-19 patients rose by 3.1 percentage points on Tuesday for a total of 9.03 percent. This means that 101 of the currently 1,119 staffed hospital beds in the region are occupied by patients with the virus.

Trauma Service Area L includes all the hospitals in Bell, Coryell, Hamilton, Lampasas, Milam and Mills counties.

School cases

Temple Independent School District showed only two active and confirmed cases of COVID-19 on its dashboard Tuesday, one at Temple High School and the other at Bonham Middle School.

Belton ISD reported having 12 active cases in its district, with two confirmed cases and 10 probable.

Cases in the district included one each at Chisholm Trail Elementary, High Point Elementary, Pirtle Elementary, Sparta Elementary and Lake Belton Middle School. Two cases were reported at North Belton Middle School, Belton New Tech High School @ Waskow and Lake Belton High School with one other case reported at another department.

Salado ISD Superintendent Michael Novotny said the district had no cases of the virus in the past week among its staff and students.

Killeen ISD had 42 active cases in the district Tuesday, with 32 students and 10 staff members with the virus.