Coronavirus pandemic

The city of Temple will close eight facilities to walk-in customers starting Friday as the number of COVID-19 cases among its employees and throughout Bell County continues to rapidly rise.

More than half — 56 percent — of the 43 infections among city workers since March have occurred in the past 30 days, Temple spokeswoman Emily Parks said.

The Municipal Building, Human Resources, Temple Public Library, Historic Post Office, the Parks and Recreation Administration Building, Public Works Service Center, Hillcrest Cemetery business office and Utility Business/Municipal Court will be closed beginning Friday through Jan. 18, according to a news release.

Services at those facilities will be available online, by phone, by appointment, curbside service or drive-through, the city said.

“We are seeing an increase in positive cases among city staff, so we want to remain proactive in our efforts to ensure the health and safety of our employees and our community,” City Manager Brynn Myers said. “This decision was made to protect our community and our staff, and to do our part to help prevent community spread. Our intent is to minimize the chance of spreading the virus.”

The closures only apply to those facilities, Parks stressed in a news release.

Some city employees will be telecommuting as the county goes through its third wave of COVID-19, according to a news release.

“As we head into the holidays, we want to take measures to keep our community and staff safe,” Myers said. “By telecommuting during this time, we reduce the potential for community spread and hopefully impact the virus’ transmission at a critical time.”

The city of Temple, Myers said, will continue to operate at full capacity and provide services as employees telecommute.

“We will continue to closely monitor the data and if we see an individual facility, office or team with an increased rate of infection or exposure, we will implement additional measures specific for that area,” the city manager said.

Employees who cannot telecommute will be required to follow pandemic safety guidelines, including social distancing, frequent hand washing and wearing face coverings.

“We are committed to protecting the health of our staff and our community,” Myers said. “It is in staff and the public’s best interest that we renew these measures.”

Last week, Temple announced its Thursday City Council meeting will be at the Sammons Community Center, 2220 W. Ave. D, to accommodate for better social distancing.

Belton municipal cases

The city of Belton, Temple’s neighbor, has had three COVID-19 cases among its employees in the past 30 days, spokesman Paul Romer said.

“With a workforce spread throughout the city, we have taken precaution in every building,” Romer said. “A few at-risk employees have done some remote work, but most Belton employees are still working out of the office. As a precaution, access to buildings is restricted and distancing and mask wearing are used in hallways and other public areas where people would gather.”

Belton has used a targeted approach for dealing with coronavirus infections among city workers.

“In May, we temporarily closed our Finance Building, and, in October, we temporarily closed the library due to COVID-related concerns,” Romer said. “We have confidence in the safety protocols recommended by health authorities and continue to use them to guide decision making.”