Coronavirus pandemic

The Bell County Public Health District identified 13 COVID-19 related deaths on Tuesday as local health officials reported a single-day case increase of 56 infections.

“We added 13 new deaths from the death certificate file received (from the state) today for a new total of 351,” Health District Director Amanda Robison-Chadwell said. “Our thoughts are with their loved ones.”

Robison-Chadwell, the county’s top public health official, said the deaths were for a man in his 50s from Killeen, a man in his 70s from Killeen, a man in his 80s from Killeen, a woman in her 50 from Harker Heights, a man in his 70s from Harker Heights, two men in their 80s from Belton, a woman in her 40s from Belton, a man in his 80s from Belton, a woman in her 40s from Bell County, a woman in her 60s from Bell County, a woman in her 60s from Temple, a man in his 70s from Temple, a man in his 80s from Temple, a man in his 90s from Temple.

About 36.2 percent of Bell County’s 351 COVID-19 related deaths were announced in February, according to health district data.

Bell County has now reached 20,216 cumulative cases, and at least 19,792 people have reportedly recovered to date.

“That gives us … an incidence rate of 117.1 per 100,000 people,” Robison-Chadwell said. “It’s a slight increase from yesterday but we expect at least a slight bump up given the impact that weather had on testing.”

Bell vaccinations

Local health officials will address Bell County’s next distribution stage for COVID-19 vaccines at 1 p.m. Wednesday, Bell County spokesman James Stafford said.

Although Bell County Judge David Blackburn will host the news conference from the second-floor courtroom of the Bell County Courthouse — 101 E. Central Ave. in Belton — the public can access a livestream for the event online at bit.ly/3bwKPcy.

Stafford said Blackburn will deliver the update with leaders from Bell County’s three largest health providers, while Bell County Public Health District Director Amanda Robison-Chadwell will attend the news conference virtually.

“(Blackburn) will be joined by Kevin Roberts, president and CEO of AdventHealth Central Texas, Angie Gentry, director of Trauma and Forensics at Baylor Scott & White Health, and Patrick Swindle, CEO of Seton Medical Center in Harker Heights,” Stafford said in a news release.

Temple VA

On Tuesday, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs reported that 6,302 first doses and 2,451 second doses of Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine were administered to veterans at the Olin E. Teague Veterans’ Medical Center, 1901 Veterans Memorial Drive in Temple.

These second-dose inoculations marked an increase of 1,949 fully-vaccinated veterans since Feb. 9, according to VA data.

However, these VA datasets — like other vaccine providers in Bell County — can include individuals residing outside of Bell County, as the health care system’s scope reaches veterans throughout Central Texas.

Area school districts

The Belton Independent School District reported nine active COVID-19 cases spanning eight campuses on Tuesday: two at Sparta Elementary, one at Charter Oak Elementary, one at Chisholm Trail Elementary, one at Leon Heights Elementary, one at Southwest Elementary, one at Belton Middle School, one at South Belton Middle School and one at Lake Belton High School.

Belton ISD also attributed a 10th case to “other departments / buildings,” according to district data.

Despite 191 cumulative COVID-19 infections tallied since March, Salado ISD reported zero active cases on Tuesday.

“We have not had any new reported cases of Salado ISD students or employees diagnosed with COVID-19 since Friday, Feb. 12,” Salado ISD Superintendent Michael Novotny said in his daily newsletter.

Since March 16, Killeen ISD has registered 1,542 cases: 748 students and 794 employees. The district’s non-campus buildings have accounted for about 7.8 percent of these cumulative cases, according to district data.

Temple ISD last updated its seven-day COVID-19 report Monday. The update, which tracked cases logged between Feb. 16 and Feb. 22, showed zero cases. Administrators are expected to update Temple ISD’s seven-day report around 5 p.m.

GETTING A SECOND-DOSE VACCINATION

Because of canceled appointments for second-dose vaccinations, there will be two sites administering vaccines this week.

Second-dose vaccinations that were scheduled to be administered on or after Monday, Feb. 22, will continue to be at the Bell County Expo Center, 301 W. Loop 121.

For anyone whose second-dose appointments were impacted by severe weather cancellations, Bell County partnered with Baylor Scott & White Health to administer those vaccinations this week on its West Campus, 546 N. Kegley Road in Temple. These will be in-person, rather than drive-through, experiences. Everyone with a second-dose vaccination appointment between Thursday, Feb. 11, and Thursday, Feb. 18, will be contacted by Bell County with details about the new day and time of their immunization.