Coronavirus pandemic

The Bell County Public Health District identified two new COVID-19 related deaths on Tuesday, as active cases continued to surge to 979 — 120 more than Monday.

“The two deaths were for a woman in her 80s from Belton and a man in his 90s from Temple,” Health District Director Amanda Robison-Chadwell said. “Our sincerest condolences to their families go out in this very difficult time.”

These fatalities, which brought the Bell County death toll to 109, were announced as 6,648 people have reportedly recovered to date, according to health district data.

“Our new total number is 7,627 cases … bringing our current incidence rate to 269.8 per 100,000 people, which is another 30-plus point increase from yesterday,” Robison-Chadwell said. “Our incidence rate is climbing very fast and it is concerning.”

With active cases rising, individuals in their 20s continue to account for the most cases in Bell County. These 1,551 cumulative cases represent approximately 20 percent of all COVID-19 cases recorded in the county, according to the health district. 

Milam County

Free COVID-19 testing in Milam County will continue for residents — a service that has been available since Sept. 1. 

“The program has been a huge success with over 700 individuals tested and about 150 positive results,” Milam County Judge Steve Young said in a news release. “This has slowed the spread of the virus by quickly taking those that are positive and their close contacts out of circulation.”

Young said these rapid tests — provided through CARES Act funding — produce results in about 20 minutes. 

Testing is available at a different location each weekday: Mondays at Rockdale Hospital, Tuesdays at the Thorndale Volunteer Fire Department, Wednesdays at the Milano Volunteer Fire Department, Thursdays at the Cameron Volunteer Fire Department, and Fridays at Buckholts Volunteer Fire Department.

Young said Milam County hopes to offer this testing through March 15. 

“Keep your distance and wear a mask,” Young said. “This is all we have to prevent the spread. These preventive measures really work and it is essential that everyone do their part by doing these two simple things.”

Young said Milam County had 21 active PCR cases and 38 active probable cases on Monday evening.

Local school districts

Active cases are on the rise in the Salado Independent School District after four students tested positive for COVID-19 on Monday: a seventh-grader at Salado Middle School, two sophomores at Salado High and a senior at Salado High.

Salado ISD Superintendent Michael Novotny said there are now 10 active cases within the district: seven students and three employees.

On Tuesday, nearly 19 percent of the Killeen Independent School District’s 372 cumulative case total had been reported in the last seven days.

There are 17 active COVID-19 cases spanning 12 Belton Independent School District campuses: two at Belton High, two Lake Belton High, two at the Belton Early Childhood School, two at Lakewood Elementary, two at Miller Heights Elementary, one at Pirtle Elementary, one at Tarver Elementary, one at Belton Middle School, one at Lake Belton Middle School, one at North Belton Middle School, one at South Belton Middle School and one at Belton New Tech High.

Belton ISD’s active case dashboard also has an additional two cases attributed to “other departments / buildings.”

Temple Independent School District’s seven-day dashboard — logging cases reported between Nov. 10 and Nov. 16 — indicated infections slightly lowered to 19. There are 10 cases at Temple High, three at Bonham Middle School, one at Cater Elementary, one at Travis Elementary, two at Kennedy-Powell Elementary and two attributed to “auxiliary,” according to district data.

Temple ISD Superintendent Bobby Ott told the Telegram “auxiliary” infections could include ground workers, maintenance staff, warehouse staff or school nutrition administrative staff.