Central Texas largest county changes COVID-19 threat level; 18 city workers are quarantining – KWTX

(KWTX) – The Bell County Public Health District Thursday changed its COVID-19 threat level to severe uncontrolled community transmission and Killeen is bracing for a new wave of cases after 18 of its employees were quarantined after either testing positive for the virus or having close exposure to someone who has it.

Most of those who are hospitalized in the county are younger than 55 and virtually all are unvaccinated, the health district said.

“We continue to encourage Bell County residents to get vaccinated and to protect themselves by wearing a mask until fully vaccinated. The vaccines provide a layer of protection which can prevent or reduce the severity of Covid-19, including death.” interim Health District Director Nikki Morrow said.

The quarantined City of Killeen employees include five from the police department, five from the city’s recreation department, three from public works, two from planning and development and one each from the fire department, community development and communications/legal/city manager’s office, according to a city council presentation by Killeen Fire Chief James Kubinski.

Eleven of the 18 Killeen employees tested positive for the virus and the other seven had close exposure, the city’s emergency management coordinator, Peter Perez, said Thursday.

Bell County has 1,576 active cases of the virus, according to state data, which include Fort Hood personnel who live on post, and nearly 200 patients diagnosed with the virus were hospitalized Thursday in the state Trauma Service Area that includes the county.

Kunbinski Thursday called the rising number of cases and hospitalizations alarming and said he’s concerned about the impact the surge may have on city employees and city functions.

“Ultimately the Delta variant could create a strain on our ambulance service, the EMS side of our fire department,” Kubinski said.

“Increase in transport could make that ambulance not available for other emergencies throughout the city because other people are still getting sick and having other emergencies as well.”

The city has submitted a request to the state for more personal protective gear such as gloves and masks in anticipation of an increase in cases.

The looming start of the new school year also has officials concerned.

Gov. Greg Abbott, in an executive order issued on July 29, reiterated that cities, counties, school districts and other political subdivisions are barred from mandating mask use, leaving local officials armed with little more than the power of persuasion.

Just more than a third of the county’s residents who are 12 and older are fully vaccinated against the virus, and Kubinski, who estimates about half of the fire department’s employees are fully vaccinated, encouraged those who aren’t to get the shots.

VACCINATIONS

Almost 37% of residents 12 and older in the 16 Central Texas counties KWTX is monitoring were fully vaccinated Thursday, according to DSHS data.

Statewide more than 53% of eligible residents are fully vaccinated.

In Bell County Thursday, more than 41% of residents 12 and older have received one dose and more than 34% are fully vaccinated.

In McLennan County, almost 50% of eligible residents have received one dose and more than 42% are fully vaccinated.

According to state data Thursday, more than 39% of Bosque County residents 12 and older are fully vaccinated; more than 32% of eligible Coryell County residents are fully vaccinated; more than 36% of eligible Falls County residents are fully vaccinated; more than 32% of eligible Freestone County residents are fully vaccinated; more than 41% of eligible Hamilton County residents are fully vaccinated; about 35% of eligible Hill County residents are fully vaccinated; almost 37% of eligible Lampasas County residents are fully vaccinated; more than 33% of eligible Leon County residents are fully vaccinated; almost 33% of eligible Limestone County residents are fully vaccinated; almost 39% of eligible Milam County residents are fully vaccinated; almost 36% of eligible Mills County residents are fully vaccinated; 40% of eligible Navarro County residents are fully vaccinated; more than 38% of eligible Robertson County residents are fully vaccinated, and 30% of eligible San Saba County residents are fully vaccinated.

The Waco-McLennan County Public Health District announced is hosting free COVID-19 vaccination clinics this week at which the one-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine and the two-dose Moderna and Pfizer vaccines will all be available.

Minor children must be accompanied by parents or guardians.

All the clinics are open to the public.

Walk-ins are welcome, but residents may register online for a scheduled appointment.

The remaining clinics are scheduled from 6 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at the Waco Civic Arts on 7th Concert Series at the 7th Street Pedestrian Plaza; from 2 p.m. until 7 p.m. Friday at the University High School Cafeteria, Old Robinson Road entry; from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. Saturday at the Waco Police Department’s Back-To-School event in the Waco Police Department parking lot at 3115 Pine Ave., and from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. in the Greater Harvest Assembly Church Fellowship Hall at 1701 Turner St.

The Temple ISD partnered with the Bell County Public Health District to provide required immunizations as well as COVID-19 vaccinations for students 12 and older on Thursday in the ninth-grade cafeteria at Temple High School.

The COVID-19 vaccinations were optional.

In Lampasas County, AdventHealth Rural Health Clinic is offering free vaccines to residents 18 and older.

Call (512) 556-3621 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday to make an appointment.

An ID and proof of insurance are required and those seeking second doses should also bring vaccination cards.

The weekly vaccination clinic will continue for as long as vaccine is available.

From 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Aug. 9 and Aug. 13 Bubba’s 33 and the Waco-McLennan County Health District are hosting a walk-in COVID-19 vaccination clinic at the restaurant at 2601 South Jack Kultgen Expressway. Residents who are vaccinated will receive vouchers for free 12-inch pizzas at future visits. Photo ID is required. Minors must be accompanied by a parent or legal guardian.

NEW CASES, HOSPITALIZATIONS

The Department of State Health Services Thursday reported another 10,978 confirmed cases of the virus, 10,912 of them new, increasing the statewide total since the start of the pandemic to 2,697,312.

At least 2,955,785 residents diagnosed with the virus have recovered, 52,297 have died, an increase of 76, and 8,130 were hospitalized Thursday, 440 more than on Wednesday.

The statewide molecular test positivity rate Thursday rose to 18.07%.

Experts say positivity rates of 5% or less indicate the virus is controlled.

In Trauma Service Area L, which includes Bell, Coryell, Hamilton, Lampasas, Milam, and Mills counties, 197 patients diagnosed with the virus were hospitalized Thursday, filling more than 18% of available beds and accounting for about 21% of all patients hospitalized.

In Trauma Service Area M, which includes Bosque, Falls, Hill, Limestone and McLennan counties 110 patients with COVID-19 were hospitalized Thursday, filling more than 17% of available beds and accounting for about 23% of all hospitalizations.

Another 422 confirmed cases of the virus were reported Thursday in Central Texas, increasing the total since the start of the pandemic to 85,692.

More than 4,100 cases were active in the region Thursday, about the same as on Wednesday.

The death toll in Central Texas may be as high as 1,775, but according to state data Thursday, the count stood at 1,766 including 465 Bell County residents, six fewer that the local count of 471; 37 Bosque County residents; 93 Coryell County residents; 33 Falls County residents; 51 Freestone County residents; 29 Hamilton County residents; 111 Hill County residents; 36 Lampasas County residents; 44 Leon County residents; 82 Limestone County residents; 492 McLennan County residents, 17 more than the local count of 475; 53 Milam County residents; 21 Mills County residents; 147 Navarro County residents, three fewer than the local count of 150; 48 Robertson County residents, and 23 San Saba County residents.

VACCINE INFORMATION AND RESOURCES

COVID-19 INFORMATION, LINKS AND RESOURCES

BELL COUNTY

The Bell County Public Health District reported 156 additional cases of the virus Thursday, raising the county’s total to 24,995.

At least 23,260 residents diagnosed with the virus have recovered, and 471 have died.

Health district data showed 1,264 active cases of the virus Thursday.

DSHS data, which include Fort Hood personnel who live on post, showed 1,576 active cases, 25,463 recoveries, and 465 deaths.

VACCINE INFORMATION AND RESOURCES

BELL COUNTY COVID-19 DEATHS

TEXAS PUBLIC SCHOOL COVID-19 DATA

MCLENNAN COUNTY

The Waco-McLennan County Health District reported an additional 137 cases of the virus Thursday, increasing the county’s total since the start of the pandemic to 29,794.

At least 835 cases were active Thursday and 108 patients diagnosed with the virus were hospitalized, 15 of them on ventilators.

At least 28,458 residents diagnosed with the virus have recovered.

The health district reported 475 total deaths from the virus Thursday.

State data showed 492 deaths.

Baylor University’s online dashboard showed 19 active cases involving students, four involving staff members and two involving contractors Thursday, and 4,063 total cases since Aug. 1, 2020. Baylor is requiring weekly COVID-19 testing of students, faculty, and staff. The university will not require students, faculty, and staff to be vaccinated against the virus this fall but is strongly encouraging everyone to get vaccinated. As of Thursday, more than 47% of students and more than 75% of employees had been vaccinated. The university plans to operate at 100% capacity indoors and outdoors and to return to in-person instruction without social distancing this fall. Face masks are no longer required on campus, but the school recommends those who aren’t vaccinated wear face coverings indoors.

The McLennan Community College dashboard showed five active cases Thursday, all involving students, and a cumulative total of 382 cases, 297 involving students.

VACCINE INFORMATION AND RESOURCES

MCLENNAN COUNTY COVID-19 DEATHS

TEXAS PUBLIC SCHOOL COVID-19 DATA

CORYELL COUNTY

Coryell County had 7,549 total confirmed cases of COVID-19 Thursday, nine more than on Wednesday, and 333 total probable cases.

DSHS data showed 413 active cases.

At least 7,376 residents diagnosed with the virus have recovered and a 93rd has died.

The Texas Department of Criminal Justice Thursday reported one case involving an inmate and six cases involving employees at the Christina Melton Crain Unit where one inmate was isolated; five cases involving employees at the Hilltop Unit; three cases involving inmates and 11 cases involving employees at the Alfred D. Hughes Unit, where 89 inmates were restricted and three were isolated; three cases involving employees at the Mountain View Unit; six cases involving employees at the Dr. Lane Murray Unit where two inmates were restricted, and two cases involving inmates and one involving an employee at the Linda Woodman State Jail where 73 inmates were restricted and two were isolated.

TEXAS PUBLIC SCHOOL COVID-19 DATA

FALLS COUNTY

Falls County had 1,933 total confirmed and 212 total probable cases of the virus Thursday.

DSHS data showed 44 active cases in the county.

At least 2,068 residents diagnosed with the virus have recovered, and 33 have died.

The Texas Department of Criminal Justice Thursday reported no active cases at either the William Hobby Unit or the Marlin Transfer Unit.

TEXAS PUBLIC SCHOOL COVID-19 DATA

LIMESTONE COUNTY

Limestone County had 2,291 total confirmed and 710 total probable cases of the virus Thursday.

DSHS data showed 115 active cases in the county.

At least 2,804 residents diagnosed the virus have recovered and 82 have died.

TEXAS PUBLIC SCHOOL COVID-19 DATA

NAVARRO COUNTY

Navarro County had 3,594 total confirmed and 2,707 total probable cases Thursday.

DSHS data showed 291 active cases Thursday, up from 268 on Wednesday.

At least 5,863 residents diagnosed with the virus have recovered.

Local data showed 150 deaths.

The state reported 147.

TEXAS PUBLIC SCHOOL COVID-19 DATA

OTHER COUNTIES

Bosque County had 1,481 total confirmed and 356 probable cases of the virus Thursday. Of the total, 1,688 residents diagnosed with the virus have recovered and 38 have died, according to state data. DSHS data showed 111 active cases Thursday.

Freestone County had 1,160 total confirmed and 919 total probable cases Thursday. At least 1,964 residents diagnosed with the virus have recovered and 51 have died according to state data. At least 64 cases were active Thursday. The Texas Department of Criminal Justice Thursday was reporting one case involving an employee and five involving inmates at the William Boyd Unit in Teague where 80 inmates were restricted, and one inmate was isolated.

Hamilton County had 817 total confirmed and 65 probable cases of the virus Thursday. At least 794 residents diagnosed with the virus have recovered and 29 have died, according to state data. Fifty-nine cases were active Thursday.

Hill County Thursday had 3,946 total confirmed cases and 796 probable cases. At least 4,496 residents diagnosed with the virus have recovered, and 111 residents have died, according to state data. At least 135 cases were active Thursday.

Lampasas County had 2,075 total confirmed and 383 probable cases Thursday. At least 2,253 residents diagnosed with the virus have recovered, and 36 residents diagnosed with the virus have died, according to state data. At least 169 cases were active Thursday.

Leon County had 1,356 total confirmed and 397 total probable cases Thursday. At least 1,635 residents diagnosed with the virus have recovered, and 44 have died, according to state data. At least 74 cases were active Thursday.

Milam County had 1,630 total confirmed and 1,145 total probable cases Thursday. At least 2,665 residents diagnosed with the virus have recovered and 53 have died. At least 110 cases were active Thursday.

Mills County had 609 confirmed and 66 probable cases of the virus Thursday. At least 641 patients have recovered and 21 have died, according to state data. Thirteen cases were active Thursday.

Robertson County had 1,925 total confirmed cases Thursday and 448 total probable cases. At least 2,252 residents diagnosed with the virus have recovered, and 48 have died, according to state data. At least 73 cases were active Thursday.

San Saba County had 537 total confirmed cases Thursday and 267 total probable cases. At least 761 residents diagnosed with the virus have recovered and 23 have died, according to state data, which showed 20 active cases Thursday. The Texas Department of Criminal Justice Thursday was reporting two cases involving employees at the San Saba Transfer Facility.

VACCINE INFORMATION AND RESOURCES

TEXAS PUBLIC SCHOOL COVID-19 DATA

COVID-19 INFORMATION, LINKS AND RESOURCES

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