Coronavirus

As local health officials said Tuesday Bell County had at least 309 COVID-19 cases after identifying 31 new infections over the Memorial Day weekend, Belton Mayor Marion Grayson announced a city employee tested positive for the virus this week.

“The employee was not in direct contact with the public and has been off work since becoming symptomatic on Thursday,” Grayson said, adding the worker tested positive on Monday. “Still, the city has been conservative in its response. The employee has access to multiple buildings, and precautions have been taken in this regard.”

Belton’s finance building, 100 S. Davis St., and the public works office, 1502 Holland Road, are closed for cleaning and sanitation. Drive-through service is still available at the finance building, Grayson said.

As a precaution, the Lena Armstrong Public Library, 301 E. First Ave., was closed Tuesday. It will reopen Wednesday at 25 percent of its capacity.

“Eleven employees had some contact with the employee and are either self-isolating or monitoring their conditions, depending on whether the contact was sustained or not,” Grayson said, pointing out that sustained contact means being within six feet of an infected person for at least 15 minutes.

Bell County Public Health District Director Amanda Robison-Chadwell addressed the county’s jump in COVID-19 cases in a statement.

“Many of these cases are asymptomatic individuals who were tested prior to scheduled medical procedures unrelated to COVID-19,” Robison-Chadwell said, noting that nine of the new cases are younger than 20. “These new cases include several shared households in which whole families tested positive.”

Those new infections pushed the county’s total to 309.

That number will likely continue to increase in the coming days and weeks because of health care providers’ increased effort to test residents and as a result of more people moving around because of the reopening of businesses, Robison-Chadwell told the Telegram Tuesday.

So far, 16,857 tests have been performed in Bell County — with 731 of those being performed since Friday, according to health district data.

The county also saw 15 more people recover from the coronavirus. So far, 180 residents have recovered.

Bell County residents need to continue to keep up with social distancing, wearing a mask while out in public and washing their hands, Robison-Chadwell said. Doing that will continue to keep the county’s daily COVID-19 case numbers low, she said.

“I know it’s summer but please, please, please try and keep your distance from one another,” the health district director said. “Wash your hands frequently and wear a mask if you are going to be somewhere where social distancing is not possible. If you get sick, even if it is just a sniffle, please stay home.

Robison-Chadwell said local coronavirus data indicates that residents are heeding officials’ advice to slow the spread.

“And I ask that they please continue to do that,” she said. “It seems like it’s been ages since this started, but please do your best to keep following those precautionary measures to try and keep a handle on COVID-19.”