Cornavirus pandemic

Cumulative COVID-19 infections in Bell County surpassed 11,000 on Friday, as active cases reached 1,829.

The milestone comes a week after the county surpassed 10,105 cases last Friday. Deaths remained at 144.

“We now have 11,007 (cumulative) cases and 9,178 recoveries,” Health District Director Amanda Robison-Chadwell said. “Please take all possible preventive measures to help us avoid a spike in cases after Christmas. This includes celebrating with only your household, avoiding non-essential travel, staying home if you are sick, avoiding gatherings, social distancing and masking if you must go to places where social distancing is not possible.”

Although the health district will continue to monitor newly reported COVID-19 cases next week, Robison-Chadwell reminded residents that its dashboard will not update on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day.

Dashboard updates will only be available Monday through Wednesday, according to the health district.

“Please take all preventive measures to help us avoid a spike in cases after Christmas,” Robison-Chadwell said.

State encourages antibody treatments

On Friday, Gov. Greg Abbott discussed the importance of COVID-19 antibody treatments during a conference call with hospital representatives across Texas — a call that also included the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Texas Department of State Health Services.

Although several advancements have been made since the coronavirus reached the U.S., CDC Director Dr. Robert Redfield noted that therapeutic antibody treatments are not being fully operationalized.

“Dr. Redfield noted that (therapeutic antibody treatments) should play a much larger role in mitigating COVID-19,” the governor’s office said. “He noted that these therapeutics are designed for outpatient use, especially for those who are at greatest risk for hospitalization, and encouraged hospitals to set up a system for people to be evaluated for these treatments immediately upon a positive COVID-19 test.”

DSHS Commissioner Dr. John Hellerstedt agreed, according to the governor’s office.

“(Hellerstedt) noted that therapeutics have helped communities respond to COVID-19 by not only shortening stays in the hospital but reducing hospitalizations altogether,” the governor’s office said. “Hellerstedt stressed that the state of Texas has plenty of antibody treatments that are ready to be used by hospitals and healthcare systems across the state and encouraged these health care entities to request these treatments through DSHS.”

Area testing

The Killeen Special Events Center — 3301 S. W.S. Young Drive — will host a temporary COVID-19 testing site from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Monday and Tuesday.

Registration, which must be completed in advance, will begin on Saturday. Participants can access the online registration by visiting texas.curativeinc.org.

“Tests are administered while participants remain in their vehicles,” the city of Killeen said in a Facebook post. “A mouth swab is collected, so not eating or drinking at least 15 minutes prior to testing. Results are provided by text message or email within 48 to 72 hours.”

This mobile testing is operated through the Texas Division of Emergency Management and the Texas Department of State Health Services with local support provided by the city of Killeen.

“All individuals at the mobile testing site must wear a mask, including patients, passengers and personnel,” the city of Killeen said.