Coronavirus

COVID-19 continued to make its mark in Bell County on Thursday. Another person died from the highly contagious virus as an additional 68 residents contracted the coronavirus.

This was Bell County’s 12th death since the pandemic started in March. Amanda Robison-Chadwell, the Bell County Public Health District director, said the person who died was a man in his 90s. She did not disclose his residence.

Eight Bell County residents have died in June, so far. Four deaths were recorded from March to May.

At least 971 cases have been reported in Bell County.

“The 68 new COVID-19 cases reported today is the second largest single-day increase since we started tracking cases back in March,” Bell County’s top public health official said.

Bell County’s highest daily increase in coronavirus cases was recorded Wednesday when a record-breaking 84 infections were reported.

June alone has seen 618 cases. That is nearly 64 percent of all cases ever reported in the county. Health district data show 179 cases were reported in May; 121 in April; and 53 in March.

Infections among young Bell County residents continue to be a concern for local officials.

“Cases continue to increase in people under age 60,” Robison-Chadwell said.

As of Thursday, at least 787 residents under 60 have been infected while Bell County residents older than 60 account for at least 184 cases, according to the health district.

With 227 cases, residents in their 20s are the largest group affected by the virus. The next largest group are those in their 30s, with 171 infections — 56 fewer cases than the 20-to-29 age group.

“We reiterate the importance of prevention,” Robison-Chadwell said. “Stay home as much as possible, especially when you feel sick. Avoid gatherings and remember to practice social distancing and wash your hands often.”

The number of recoveries increased by 20 residents to a total of 377 on Thursday, according to the health district. At least 23,936 tests have been performed in Bell County.

Starting Monday, businesses in Bell County must require their customers and employees to wear a mask while inside their facilities. Not following the county order could result in a fine of up to $1,000 per violation.

During an online news conference Wednesday, Killeen Mayor Jose Segarra asked Robison-Chadwell to repeat what she had told other municipal leaders about the transmission of COVID-19 in Bell County.

Her assessment was blunt.

“You should assume anyone around you may have it,” Robison-Chadwell said. “There are a number of people who are asymptomatic and we’re seeing the rates increase dramatically enough that we’ve had people ask questions about if it’s safe to go here or there or wherever. We can’t say that because it is legitimately everywhere in the community — and that’s what community spread means. It’s widespread.”