Local officials ask governor for more time before implementing occupancy rollbacks
Area case total rises to more than 28,000, death toll almost 300
WACO, Texas (KWTX) – McLennan County officials were asking Gov. Greg Abbott for more time before implementing state-ordered rollbacks in business, restaurant, museum, library, and gym occupancy from 75% to 50% Wednesday as 158 new cases of the virus were reported in Central Texas, increasing the regional total to 20,836.
An executive order Gov. Greg Abbott issued on Sept. 17 allowed businesses and restaurants to expand operating capacity to 75% provided they are in Trauma Service Areas where the percentage of hospitalized COVID-19 patients is 15% or less of total hospitalizations for seven consecutive days.
McLennan, Bosque, Falls, Hill and Limestone counties were ordered to roll back business and restaurant capacity from 75% to 50% effective Sunday after the number of hospitalized COVID-19 patients in the Trauma Service Area to which they’re assigned rose to more than 15% of total hospitalizations.
“In our calculation today we are 11% overall,” McLennan County Judge Scott Felton said during a virtual news conference Wednesday afternoon.
“Admittedly we found mistakes in our numbers as well. We asked the governor to give us time before the order is in place, well actually the order is in place right now but we are asking to have a waiver until we figure this out.”
The Sept. 27 order also requires hospitals in the five counties to suspend elective surgeries.
“We also received the same letter as a healthcare facility and it talked about cutting back on elective surgeries as well,” Dr. Brian Becker with Ascension Providence Hospital said.
“We are nowhere near a need to decrease our care of COVID patients so we are continuing to do elective surgeries in compliance with the (governor’s) order,” he said.
The patient numbers are provided by the hospitals, a Texas Department of State Health Services representative said.
“If those numbers are being reported incorrectly, we’d happy to work with hospitals to ensure the issue is corrected.”
Officials in the other four counties are also seeking exemptions from the Department of State
In the Trauma Service Area that includes the five counties, 52 COVID-19 patients were hospitalized Wednesday, about 12% of total hospitalizations, while in the other TSA that includes much of the rest of Central Texas 28 patients with the virus were hospitalized, about 3% of total hospitalizations.
At least 3,344 patients were hospitalized statewide Wednesday, an increase of more than 90.
Statewide Wednesday, the number of patients diagnosed with the virus rose by 5,335 to 748,967.
Of the total, 69,767 cases were active and 664,883 patients have recovered.
The statewide death toll rose by 107 Wednesday to 15,771.
Bell County reported an additional death Wednesday.
The death toll in Central Texas may be as high as 306, but according to state data Tuesday at least 298 area residents diagnosed with the virus have now died, including 86 Bell County residents, three more than the local count of 83; six Bosque County residents; 12 Coryell County residents, two more than the local count of 10; five Falls County residents; two Freestone County residents; four Hamilton County residents; 14 Hill County residents; eight Lampasas County residents; six Leon County residents; 14 Limestone County residents; 105 McLennan County residents, six fewer than the local count of 111; seven Milam County residents, one fewer than the state count of six; 27 Navarro County residents, six fewer than the local count of 33; and three Robertson County residents.
More than 6.2 million tests have been administered statewide.
The Lab Test Reported Date clinical positivity rate rose from 8.66% Tuesday to 9.0% Wednesday.
Just two of the state’s 254 counties are free of the virus.
The Bell County Public Health District reported 39 additional cases Wednesday, raising the county’s total to 5,484.
Of the total 343 cases were active and 5,059 patients have recovered.
Some of the cases were reported late Tuesday, health district Director Dr. Amanda Robison-Chadwell said.
“You’ll note that we are seeing an increase in new cases and that our incidence rate has jumped up which makes the pushing of COVID-19 prevention messaging ever more important as we head to the holidays,” she said.
“We did expect to see an increase following the opening of schools and businesses so this is not a surprise, but it is something we can all work together to keep under control.”
The health district has created a guide for safe holiday practices that’s available online.
The county reported 83 deaths Wednesday, an increase of one.
State data, which include Fort Hood personnel living on post rose by 27 to 5,561 Wednesday. The state is reporting 86 deaths in the county.
The University of Mary Hardin-Baylor dashboard Wednesday showed 28 current and 75 closed cases.
Texas A&M University-Central Texas Wednesday was reporting that seven students and four employees have tested positive since March. So far this week, no cases have been confirmed.
The Killeen ISD’s online dashboard Wednesday showed a total of 28 cases involving students and 70 involving employees have been confirmed since March 16. On Tuesday one active case involving a student was reported at Fowler Elementary School; one case involving a student was reported at Hay Branch Elementary School; two cases involving employees and one involving a student were reported at Meadows Elementary School; one case involving a student was reported at Montague Village Elementary School; two cases involving employees were reported at Sugar Loaf Elementary School; one case involving a student was reported at Willow Springs Elementary School; one case involving a student and one involving an employee were reported at Nolan Middle School; one case involving an employee was reported at Rancier Middle School; one case involving a student was reported at Harker Heights High School; one case involving an employee and one involving a student were reported at Killeen High School, and two cases involving employees were reported at Shoemaker High School
The Temple ISD’s online dashboard showed five cases Wednesday including four at Temple High School and one at Kennedy-Powell Elementary School.
The Belton ISD’s online dashboard Wednesday showed one case at Sparta Elementary School, one at Belton Middle School, one at South Belton Middle School, three at Belton High School, and one at a non-campus facility.
A drive-thru state testing site will be open from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. through Oct. 10 at the Killeen Special Events Center at 3301 South WS Young Dr.
Tests are free, but online registration is required.
Results should be provided by text or email within 48 to 96 hours.
The Central Texas Food Bank will distribute food from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. Oct. 17 at Temple College.
The Killeen ISD will serve free breakfasts and lunches to all students on all campuses on scheduled school days not including holidays or weekends beginning Oct. 5 through Dec. 18, funded through U.S. Department of Agriculture waivers as part of the Coronavirus Relief Act. Students may go through cafeteria lines to receive free meals and virtual learners may continue to pick up meals without any documentation provided children are present. If the USDA discontinues the waiver before Dec. 18, the district will notify parents. Normal meal prices resume at the start of the spring term in January.
The Waco-McLennan County Health District reported 57 additional cases Wednesday, two of them previously unreported, increasing the county’s total to 8,179.
Of the total 462 cases were active Wednesday, 7,606 patients have recovered and 111 have died.
Forty nine patients were hospitalized Wednesday, 16 of them on ventilators.
Thirty four of the 49 are McLennan County residents.
The most recent cases include one resident younger than 1; two residents whose ages range from 10 to 10; six whose ages range from 11 to 17; 12 who range in age from 18 to 25; three who range in age from 26 to 29; 13 in their 30s; eight in their 40s; six in their 50s; three in their 60s, and three in their 70s.
Outbreaks have been reported at seven long-term care facilities and a total of 29 were active Wednesday, 21 involving staff members and eight involving residents, county officials said Wednesday.
Two outbreaks are related to churches and one case has been confirmed at the McLennan County Jail.
A total of 38 cases have been confirmed in 12 public schools and one private school, 23 of them involving students, but no widespread transmission has occurred at schools so far, they said.
Officials Wednesday said it’s too early to measure the impact of Baylor’s first home football game.
“It’s too early to see what happened with students and other fans who were at the game the effect COVID had,” Mayor Kyle Deaver said.
“Baylor has taken a number of steps testing 250 students before the game at random and two students tested positive and weren’t allowed to go to the game. Students who didn’t show up for testing weren’t allowed to go to the game. They are doing their own contact tracing and will contact any positives that come out of that,” he said.
“Football games are inherently risky but Baylor is doing everything they can.”
Baylor University’s online dashboard showed 59 active cases Wednesday and 1,003 total cases since Aug. 1. Over the past seven days, 27 cases have been confirmed for a seven-day positivity rate of 1.9%.
The McLennan Community College dashboard showed 20 active cases Wednesday, 19 of which involved students, and a total of 97 confirmed cases in the past three weeks, 84 of which involved students.
The Waco ISD dashboard Wednesday showed 16 cumulative cases involving students, 13 involving staff and three involving individuals classified as “other.” So far this week, one case has been confirmed at Alta Vista Elementary School, one case has been confirmed at Bell’s Hill Elementary School, one case has been confirmed at Lake Air Montessori School, one case has been confirmed at G.W. Carver Middle School, one case has been confirmed at Tennyson Middle School and two cases have been confirmed at University High School.
The Midway ISD’s online dashboard Wednesday showed one case involving a student at Hewitt Elementary School; one involving a staff member at South Bosque Elementary School; one involving a student at Speegleville Elementary School; four cases involving students at Midway Middle School; three cases involving students and one involving an employee at Midway High School, and two cases involving employees at a non-campus building.
Connally Primary School students were sent home Wednesday to learn remotely. The primary school students will learn from home until further notice, according to a post on the school’s Facebook page.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has allocated 40,000 COVID-19 tests for a surge in testing in McLennan County and three test sites will operate from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily from Oct. 7 to Oct. 10, officials announced Wednesday. Locations will be announced next week.
The Central Texas Food Bank announced Monday it will distribute food from 10 a.m. to noon Thursday at Waco ISD Stadium.
Coyrell County reported 684 cases Wednesday, an increase of 10.
Of the total 122 cases were active and 552 patients have recovered.
State data, which include Texas Department of Criminal Justice inmates, showed 1,831 cases and 1,586 recoveries.
Twelve people have died in Coryell County, according to state data, but according to local data the virus has claimed 10 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 Texas Department of Criminal Justice Wednesday was reporting 17 active cases involving inmates and 33 involving employees at the Christina Melton Crain Unit in Gatesville where 177 inmates were on medical restriction and 21 were isolated; four cases involving inmates and 47 involving employees at the Alfred D. Hughes Unit in Gatesville where 91 inmates were medically restricted and six were medically isolated; four cases involving employees at the Mountain View Unit in Gatesville; two cases involving inmates and five cases involving employees at the Dr. Lane Murray Unit in Gatesville where 99 inmates were medically restricted and two were medically isolated, and one case involving an inmate and four cases involving employees at the Linda Woodman State Jail in Gatesville where 67 inmates were on medical restriction and two inmates were medically isolated.
The Copperas Cove ISD’s online dashboard Wednesday showed one case involving an employee at Clement Parsons Elementary School and one case involving an employee and one involving a student at Williams/Ledger Elementary School.
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 reported 575 cases Wednesday.
Of the total, 495 patients have recovered.
Fourteen residents have died.
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 reported 1,312 confirmed and 402 probable cases of the virus Wednesday for a total of 1,714, an increase of nine. Of the total 154 cases were active Wednesday and 1,527 patients have recovered. Ten patients were hospitalized. The county is reporting 33 deaths.
State data, based on birth certificates and county of residence, showed 27 deaths.
According to the latest figures Wednesday Bosque County was reporting 339 cases and 251 recoveries. Revised state data based on death certificates showed six deaths in the county. Cranfills Gap Superintendent Monti Parchman, in a letter to parents Tuesday, said the small district with just more than 130 students is ending online instruction, saying it “has not been successful for many of our students.” Remote instruction ends Friday except for students who’ve been told to quarantine because of exposure to the virus or because they’ve tested positive for the virus. Students have the option of returning to campus, withdrawing to home school, enrolling in a private school or seeking a transfer to a district that offers remote learning.
Falls County had 288 confirmed cases Wednesday. Of the total, 179 patients have recovered. State data showed five deaths from the virus. The Texas Department of Criminal Justice Wednesday reported 18 cases involving inmates and 10 cases involving employees at the William P. Hobby Unit in Marlin where 698 inmates were on medical restriction and 26 were isolated. Marlin High School students returned to the classroom Monday after three days of remote learning, but Marlin Middle School students will remain at home until Oct. 5 after two more positive cases involving staff and two more involving students were reported.
Freestone County was reporting 415 cases Wednesday. Of the total, 391 patients have recovered. Two cases involving inmates were reported Wednesday at the William R. Boyd Unit in Teague where 289 inmates were on medical restriction and five were medically isolated. The county reported its first death from the virus on Aug. 31 and a second death was reported on Sept. 21. Teague city and police officials say they’ve decided to postpone National Night Out events, but are considering another date when the “community can come together without concerns for health and safety matters.”
Hamilton County was reporting 145 confirmed cases Wednesday. A total of 103 patients have recovered. Four residents have died of the virus, according to state data.
Hill County reported a total of 692 cases Wednesday, an increase of 22, and 506 recoveries. Fourteen residents diagnosed with the virus have died, according to state data. The Hill College dashboard Wednesday showed one active cases involving a student at its Hillsboro campus. In the Hillsboro ISD one student at Hillsboro Elementary and one student at Hillsboro Junior High School had active cases of the virus Wednesday.
Lampasas County was reporting 261 cases Wednesday with 194 recoveries. Eight residents diagnosed with the virus have died, according to state data.
Leon County reported 249 confirmed cases with 207 recoveries Wednesday. The virus has claimed six lives in the county, according to state data.
Milam County reported 509 cases Wednesday, an increase of eight. Of the total just nine cases were active. A total of 493 patients have recovered. Seven residents have died.
Mills County reported 59 cases with 43 recoveries Wednesday.
Robertson County reported 355 cases Wednesday, an increase of 34 since its last report. Of that number, 74 cases were active and 278 patients have recovered. The virus has claimed three lives in the county.
San Saba County reported 66 cases Wednesday and 42 recoveries.
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