Coronavirus pandemic

As the delta variant of the COVID-19 virus continues to spread amongst the unvaccinated, the incidence rate of cases in Bell County has more than tripled in two weeks.

The Bell County Public Health District reported on its dashboard Friday that the county now has 711 reported active cases of the coronavirus.

The county also is currently seeing an incidence rate of 195.9 cases per 100,000 people. This is a large spike from the 60.3 cases per 100,000 people incidence rate that was seen two weeks ago when the district restarted reporting cases on its dashboard.

Nikki Morrow, interim director for the district, said the county continued to see the unvaccinated accounting for a large amount of those getting the virus locally.

“We are seeing an increase in daily COVID-19 cases since early July. Prior to July, there was an average of (less than) 10-20 new cases per day within our county,” Morrow said. “However, now we are seeing anywhere from 40-100+ new cases per day.”

Morrow also pointed out that those who have gotten their first shot, but not yet scheduled their second should do so to fully protect them from the virus.

Despite the large spike in cases, with the incidence rate now at late February levels, the district has not reported any new deaths, with the total still at 470.

The total number of cases seen in the county is now at 23,782, with the number of people having recovered from the virus at 22,601.

According to the Associated Press, data from Johns Hopkins University showed on Tuesday that daily new cases in the United States have almost tripled in the past two weeks. New cases were at more than 37,000 a day compared to less than 13,700 on July 6.

Over the past week Trauma Service Area L — which includes hospitals in Bell County — has seen hospitalizations related to the virus rise to 9.25 percent of hospital capacity according to the Texas Department of State Health Services.

Deke Jones, spokesman for Baylor Scott & White, said the health care provider has continued to see an increase of hospitalized patients come in with COVID-19.

“We are also seeing an increase in COVID-19 cases among children, though most have been able to recover at home,” Jones said. “As the delta variant has increased in the adult population, it has increased the pediatric population as well.”

Jones said the health care provider is also recommending anyone who has previously gotten the virus still need to get vaccinated due to the health risks involved. He said he recommends people planning to do so talk to their doctors on a timeline for vaccination.

The health care provider, Jones said, has already made sure to have surge plans put into place at its facilities to deal with rising hospitalizations.

“Our health system has surge plans in place to successfully manage capacity as we continue to treat COVID-19 and non-COVID-19 patients,” Jones said. “We carefully evaluate capacity daily and are working with patients and physicians to reschedule non-emergent procedures ensuring our hospitals remain ready for those who need care most. We encourage anyone in need of care to seek it.”

Masking and social distancing is still being recommended in order to protect the unvaccinated, partially vaccinated and those who are high risk and vulnerable to severe illness.