Fifteen new COVID-19 deaths were reported by the Bell County Public Health District even as active cases in the county continued to fall.

Nikki Morrow, interim director of the district, said the new deaths, reported Monday, brought the county up to a total of 689 since the start of the pandemic. The deaths occurred between the start of Aug. 15 and October.

Included in the new deaths were two women and a man in their 30s, three men and a woman in their 40s, a woman in her 50s, three men and a woman in their 60s, two women in their 70s and a woman in her 80s.

The district also reported a drop in active cases by 135, from the 715 seen Saturday to the 580 reported on Monday. This brought the incidence rate in the county down to 159.81 cases of the virus per every 100,000 people in the county.

In total, the county has seen 33,317 reported cases since the start of the pandemic in March of 2020, with 32,048 having recovered so far.

As local cases of the virus fell, regional hospitalizations of people with COVID-19 bounced back up Tuesday.

The Texas Department of State Health Services dashboard showed that the percentage of hospital beds in Trauma Service Area L — which includes Bell County — is now 10.45 percent. This is a 3.95 percentage point increase compared to Monday’s rate of 6.5 percent.

The dashboard showed a total of 1,176 staffed hospital beds in the region, with 123 currently occupied by patients with the virus.

Trauma Service Area L contains the hospitals for Bell, Coryell, Hamilton, Lampasas, Milam and Mills counties.

School cases

Temple Independent School District only showed a single active COVID-19 on its dashboard Tuesday, with the case located at Jefferson Elementary, along with two probable cases on its tracker.

Belton ISD showed 40 active cases of COVID-19 on its dashboard, with 11 confirmed cases and 27 probable cases. The district did not report any cases at five of its 18 campuses including Leon Heights Elementary, Miller Heights Elementary, Southwest Elementary, Sparta Elementary and Tarver Elementary.

Killeen ISD reported having 75 active cases of the virus on its dashboard including 60 students and 17 staff members, accounting for about 0.15 percent of its total population.