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COVID-19 spread slows in Central Texas, but could another spike lie ahead?

The pace of the spread of COVID-19 continues to slow in Central Texas, but there were signs...
The pace of the spread of COVID-19 continues to slow in Central Texas, but there were signs Friday another surge may lie ahead, fueled by increases in cases involving younger residents as students return to class. (File)(WIFR)
Published: Aug. 28, 2020 at 3:07 PM CDT|Updated: Aug. 28, 2020 at 5:50 PM CDT
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(KWTX) - The pace of the spread of COVID-19 continues to slow in Central Texas, but there were signs Friday another surge may lie ahead, fueled by increases in cases involving younger residents as students return to class.

The total case count in Central Texas rose by 195 to 15,615 on Friday and the regional death toll, according to state data based on death certificates and county of residence, rose to at least 210.

Additional deaths were reported in Bell, McLennan and Navarro counties

Coryell County reported two more deaths, increasing the virus’ toll to six, according to local data.

According to state data based on death certificates and county of residence, the virus has claimed the lives of 62 Bell County residents, 22 more than the local count of 40; five Bosque County residents; 10 Coryell County residents, four more than the local count; three Falls County residents; three Hamilton County residents; eight Hill County residents; five Lampasas County residents; four Leon County residents; seven Limestone County residents; 80 McLennan County residents, two fewer than the local count of 82; five Milam County residents; 14 Navarro County residents, nine fewer than the local count of 23; and four Robertson County residents, one more than the local count of three.

The statewide death toll increased by 196 Friday while the total case count increased by 3,972 to 601,768.

Of the total, 104,622 cases were active Friday and 484,880 patients have recovered.

Hospitalizations statewide dropped slightly Friday to 4,422 and the number of patients hospitalized in the two Trauma Service Areas that include most of Central Texas totaled just more than 80.

More than 4.8 million tests have been administered and the statewide positivity rate fell slightly Friday from 13.03% to 12.31%, a drop at least partially attributed to less testing in the state.

Three of the state’s 254 counties are still free of the virus.

BELL COUNTY

The Bell County Public Health District reported 21 new cases of the virus Friday and the county’s 40th death, a Killeen woman in her 50s.

The new cases increased the county’s total to 4,662.

Of that number, 3,998 patients have recovered.

About 35% of the total cases involve residents in their 20s or younger.

“We did not see many cases added which is good news but we want to ensure that everyone remains vigilant as we approach the Labor Day holiday,” health district Director Dr. Amanda Robison-Chadwell said Friday.

“Please continue to socially distance, mask if you cannot, wash your hands and stay home if you are sick.”

The state count, which includes Fort Hood personnel who live on post rose increased by 41 Friday to 4,747.

The Killeen ISD has created an online dashboard to track and update COVID-19 cases in schools.

The district, which started online learning on Aug. 17, plans to start in-person instruction Monday, a week earlier than originally planned, because of technology distribution issues.

The state Friday reported 62 deaths in the county based on death certificates and county of residence.

The health district earlier reported 39 deaths including a Killeen man in his 50s in ICU died who died on April 8, a Temple man in his 60s in intensive care who died on April 6 who died on April 6, a Temple woman in her 80s who had been diagnosed with the virus died on March 26, and a woman in her 90s who was a resident of West Inn Nursing and Rehabilitation whose death was announced on May 30.

Also, a resident of Weston Inn Nursing and Rehabilitation whose death was announced on June 3; a woman in her 60s who was a resident of Weston Inn whose death was reported on June 9, a woman in her 70s who was transferred on June 1 from Weston Inn Nursing and Rehabilitation to Scott & White Medical Center died on June 14; two men in their 80s whose deaths were reported on June 17, both of whom were residents of Weston Inn Nursing & Rehabilitation in Temple; a man in his 60s whose was reported on June 19 who also was a former resident of Weston Inn; a woman in her 50s with underlying conditions whose death was reported on June 22; a man in his 90s who died on June 25; a Killeen woman in her 80s whose death was reported on June 29.

The death of Bell County man in his 20s who died outside of the county was reported on July 10; the death of a Bell County man in his 70s was reported on July 15; the death of a Temple man in his 90s was reported on July 17; the death of a Killeen man in his 70s was reported on July 17; the death of a Killeen woman in her 70s was reported on July 19, and the death of a man in his 80s who was a resident of the Indian Oaks Living Center in Harker Heights was reported on July 29.

On Aug. 4 health officials reported the death of a Harker Heights man in his 60s who had battled the virus since June; the death of a Killeen woman in her 70s was reported on Aug. 6; a Bell County woman in her 70s who was diagnosed with the virus in July died on Aug. 6.

On Aug. 10, officials reported the deaths of a Belton woman in her 80s who’d be fighting the virus for some time and a Harker Heights man in his 50s who had underlying conditions.

Officials reported two more deaths on Aug. 11, a Killeen woman in her 60s with underlying conditions who died on Aug. 10and a Killeen woman in her 80s who died on Aug. 11.

The deaths of six more residents were reported on Aug. 18.

Three were from Aug. 14, including a Killeen man in his 70s, a Bell County woman in her 70s and a Belton woman in her 80s.

A Temple man in his 60s, a Killeen woman in her 80s and a Belton man in his 60s died on Aug. 17.

On Aug. 20, a Temple man in his 60s diagnosed with the virus earlier in the month died.

On Aug. 24 the county reported the death of a Harker Heights woman in her 70s who was a resident of the Indian Oaks Living Center at 415 Indian Oaks Dr.

Officials reported the death of a Temple woman in her 90s on Aug. 25.

Health district officials reported three additional deaths on Aug 26 including a Temple man in his 90s, a Belton woman in her 80s, and a Temple man in his 80s, none of whom was “affiliated with a nursing home.”

The death of a Killeen man in his 70s who was “not affiliated with a nursing home,” was reported on Aug. 27.

MCLENNAN COUNTY

Waco-McLennan County health officials reported 62 new cases of the virus Friday and an additional death, a 67-year-old man.

The new cases pushed the county’s total to 6,162.

Of that number, 1,921 cases were active Friday and 4,159 patients have recovered.

Thirty six patients were hospitalized Friday, 22 of them on ventilators.

Twenty one of the 36 are McLennan County residents.

More than half of the new cases reported Friday involve residents in their 20s or younger.

Sixty two of the 92 cases the county reported Thursday involved residents 29 or younger; 70 of the 101 new cases the county reported on Wednesday involved residents ranging in age from 18 to 29; and on Tuesday 74 of the 111 new cases reported involved residents from 11 to 29.

Officials expressed concern earlier this week about the impact of the return of thousands of students to universities, colleges and K-12 schools on the spread of COVID-19 in the county, but said it’s too early to say whether the uptick in cases involving younger residents is a result of the return to campus.

Several dozen Midway High School students will be quarantined after one senior was diagnosed with the virus, district spokeswoman Traci Marlin said Thursday.

The district’s dashboard showed just one other confirmed case Friday, a staff member at Woodway Elementary School.

Baylor University’s online COVID-19 dashboard, which includes data about cases involving students who live both on and off campus, faculty and staff members who are working on campus and contractors who are working on campus, showed a total of 415 confirmed cases of the virus since Aug. 1 and 253 active cases of the virus on Friday.

In the past seven days 3,301 tests have been administered and 211 of them were positive for a daily positivity rate of 6.4%

Random surveillance testing begins Monday.

The overwhelming majority of our COVID-19 cases have been traced back to off-campus interactions and students who live off-campus,” university President Dr. Linda Livingstone said in an email to students, faculty and staff Friday afternoon.

Livingstone said the university is also “starting to see COVID-19 positives among small groups of four to six students who are gathering in off-campus residences to have dinner together, for example.”

“We cannot stress enough the importance of face coverings and social distancing, even in such small social gatherings.”

“There is not a single COVID-19 data point or factor that would alter our plans for continuing the fall semester in an on-campus environment,” she said.

“To reiterate, we are pleased with the start of the fall semester and look forward to continuing with on-campus instruction and activities in the weeks ahead.”

State data Thursday, based on death certificates and county of residence, showed 80 deaths in the county, two fewer than the local count.

Among the first McLennan County residents to die of the virus in the county were G.W. Carver Middle School Principal Phillip Perry, who died of complications from the virus on March 31; a 61-year old McLennan County man whom a neighbor found dead on April 8; a 69-year-old man who died on April 9 at a local hospital, and a 66-year-old resident whose death was announced on April 22.

The others include a 46-year-old man with no apparent underlying issues who died June 18 in a Waco hospital, a 44-year-old man who died on June 23 in a local hospital; a 53-year-old man who died on June 28 at a local hospital; an 89-year-old man who died on June 29 at a local hospital; an 87-year-old man who died June 29 at a local hospital; a 62-year-old woman and a 77-year-old man whose deaths were reported on July 4; a 71-year-old woman and a 76-year-old man whose deaths were reported on July 6; a 72-year-old man whose death was reported on July 8; a 41-year-old woman whose death was reported on July 9; a 93-year-old woman who died on July 11 at a local hospital; a 42-year-old woman who died July 12 at a local hospital; a 73-year-old man who died on July 13 at his home; an 87-year-old woman who died on July 14 at a local hospital; an 87-year-old woman who died late on July 15 at a local long term care facility; a 75-year-old man who died on July 16 at a local hospital; a 66-year-old man who died July 17 at a local hospital; a 69-year-old woman, whose death was reported on July 18; an 82-year-old woman whose death was reported on July 18; a 97-year-old woman whose death was reported on July 21, and a 43-year-old man and two 88-year-old men whose deaths were reported on July 22.

The county reported a single-day record of four deaths on July 23, a 52-year-old woman, a 70-year-old woman, a 97-year-old woman and an 83-year-old woman.

The county reported three more deaths on July 24, a 70-year-old woman, an 84-year-old woman and a 55-year old man, raising the death toll from the virus to 35, an increase of 13 since July 17.

The death of a 55-year-old woman was reported on July 27.

On July 28, the county reported three more deaths from the virus, a 72-year-old man, an 84-year-old man and a 91-year-old man.

The deaths of a 75-year-old man, an 87-year-old woman and an 84-year-old woman were reported on July 29.

On July 30, the county reported the deaths of an 83-year-old man and a 69-year-old woman.

The death of an 81-year-old man was reported on July 31.

Health officials reported the death of a 66-year-old woman on Aug. 1 and the deaths of a 62-year-old woman and a 90-year-old woman on Aug. 2.

On Aug. 3 the deaths of a 62-year-old woman, a 77-year-old man and an 84-year-old woman, were reported.

On Aug. 5, health officials reported the deaths of a 69-year-old man and an 87-year-old man.

The deaths of two more residents were reported on Aug. 6, a 67-year-old man and a 90-year-old man.

The deaths of five women, ages 98, 61, 68, 91 and 83, and two men, ages 81 and 90, were announced on July 7, a one-day record.

Health officials reported the death of an 80-year-old man on Aug. 8 and a 93-year-old woman whose death was reported on Aug. 9.

Officials reported the county’s 65th death on Aug. 11, a 72-year-old man.

The deaths of five more residents were reported on Aug. 12 including a 67-year-old man, a 92-year-old woman, an 89-year-old woman, an 89-year-old man and a 65-year-old woman, increasing the virus’ toll in the county to 70.

Health officials reported the deaths of the 72-year-old man on August 14, a 68-year-old woman on Aug. 15; an 80-year-old man on Aug. 17, and a 58-year-old man and an 83-year-old man on Aug. 18.

Officials reported three more deaths on Aug. 20, a 73-year-old woman, a 58-year-old woman and a 65-year old man.

The death of a 57-year-old woman was reported on Aug. 22 and the death of a 66-year-old woman was reported on Aug. 24.

CORYELL COUNTY

Coryell County reported a total of 536 cases of the virus Friday, an increase of 43.

The county also reported two more deaths, increasing the local count to six.

Of the total, 192 cases were active and 331 patients have recovered.

State data, which includes Texas Department of Criminal Justice inmates, showed 914 cases in the county, an increase of 64, with 657 recoveries.

Fifty one active cases of the virus, 32 involving inmates and 19 involving employees, were reported Friday at the Christina Melton Crain Unit in Gatesville, where 398 inmates are medically restricted and 32 are isolated; 50 active cases, 31 involving inmates and 19 involving employees were reported at the Alfred D. Hughes Unit in Gatesville where 1,130 inmates were medically restricted and 47 were isolated, and 13 active cases, 10 involving inmates and three involving employees, were reported at the Mountain View Unit in Gatesville, where 66 inmates were restricted and 10 were isolated.

The county’s death toll stood at 10 Friday, according to state data, but according to local data the virus earlier claimed four lives in the county including a Copperas Cove man in his 70s who died on April 9 at Advent Hospital in Killeen, to which he was admitted on April 2; a Copperas Cove man in his 60s who was diagnosed with the virus on April 5; a Copperas Cove man whose death was reported on July 8, and a Gatesville man in his 60s whose death was reported on July 12.

The Cove House Free Clinic at 806 West Avenue D, Suite H, is offering free COVID-19 testing from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tuesdays. Appointments are required and may be made by calling (254) 289-9865.

LIMESTONE COUNTY

Limestone County reported a total of 408 cases Friday, an increase of three, with 256 recoveries.

Seven Limestone County residents have now died of the virus, according to state data.

The first was a Mexia woman in her late 50s to early 60s with underlying health conditions who died on March 31 at Parkview Regional Hospital in Mexia after she was diagnosed with COVID-19.

NAVARRO COUNTY

Navarro County reported 1,074 confirmed and 241 probable cases Friday for a total of 1,315.

The county also reported another death, increasing the virus’ toll to 23.

Of the total case, 144 were active Friday and 1,148 patients have recovered.

Fifteen patients were hospitalized Friday.

OTHER COUNTIES

According to the latest figures Friday Bosque County was reporting 211 cases and 161 recoveries. Revised state data based on death certificates showed five residents have died.

Falls County had 160 confirmed cases and 132 recoveries Friday. State data showed three deaths.

Freestone County was reporting 381 cases Friday. Of the total, 163 patients have recovered. A total of 170 active cases, 169 involving inmates and 11 involving employees, were reported Friday at the William R. Boyd Unit in Teague where 1,082 inmates were medically restricted and 169 were isolated.

Hamilton County was reporting 100 confirmed cases Friday. A total of 79 patients have recovered. Three residents have died of the virus, according to state data.

Hill County reported a total of 369 cases Friday with 316 recoveries. Eight residents have died, according to state data.

Lampasas County was reporting 151 cases with 112 recoveries. Five residents diagnosed with the virus have died, according to state data.

Leon County reported 180 confirmed cases with 146 recoveries Friday. Four residents have died, according to state data.

Milam County reported 425 cases and 398 recoveries Friday. Twenty two cases were active. Five Milam County residents diagnosed with the virus have died. Two patients were hospitalized.

Mills County reported 33 cases with 23 recoveries Friday.

Robertson County reported 262 cases Friday. Of that number, 52 cases were active and 210 patients have recovered. Three residents have died, according to local data. State data show four deaths.

San Saba County reported 38 cases and 25 recoveries Friday.

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