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COVID-19 surges in Central Texas, around the state; worse may lie ahead

Almost 450 new cases of the virus were confirmed Tuesday in Central Texas, increasing the...
Almost 450 new cases of the virus were confirmed Tuesday in Central Texas, increasing the regional total to 32,601. (CNN/file)
Published: Nov. 24, 2020 at 5:47 PM CST
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(KWTX) - Texas reported a record number of new COVID-19 cases Tuesday, McLennan County set another record for hospitalizations, and Waco-McLennan County Public Health District spokeswoman Kelly Craine says fears things well get worse after Thanksgiving as COVID-weary families gather against the advice of medical experts.

“We’ve already seen a spike in daily cases and I am sure next week it will get much worse,” Craine said Tuesday as the health district reported nearly 190 new cases of the virus.

“It’s hard,” she said, “but we must keep our distance this holiday because if we don’t, a week before Christmas we’ll be seeing spikes again.”

Almost 450 new cases of the virus were confirmed Tuesday in Central Texas, increasing the regional total to 32,601.

The Texas Department of State Health Services reported an additional 14,392 cases of the virus statewide, 13,998 of them new, topping the previous one-day record of 12,393 new cases reported on Nov. 19.

The additional cases increased the statewide total to 1,115,371, of which 169,826 cases were active Tuesday.

An estimated 927,331 patients have recovered.

At least 8,495 patients were hospitalized Tuesday around the state, about 140 more than on Monday, and in the two Trauma Service Areas that include most of Central Texas, nearly 180 patients were hospitalized, 20 more than on Monday.

The virus has claimed another 166 lives in Texas, increasing the statewide toll to 20,750.

Additional deaths were reported Tuesday in Freestone, McLennan and Robertson counties.

The Central Texas death toll may now be as high as 489, but according to state data Monday at least 476 area residents diagnosed with the virus have now died including 112 Bell County residents; 15 Bosque County residents; 16 Coryell County residents, one more than the local count of 15; 14 Falls County residents; 12 Freestone County residents; seven Hamilton County residents; 18 Hill County residents; 10 Lampasas County residents; 14 Leon County residents; 18 Limestone County residents; 179 McLennan County residents, three fewer than the local count of 182; nine Milam County residents; four Mills County residents; 35 Navarro County residents, 10 fewer than the local count of 45; seven Robertson County residents, one more than the local count of six, and six San Saba County residents.

The Lab Test Report Date clinical positivity rate dropped slightly to 11.97% Tuesday from 12.38% Monday.

Gov. Greg Abbott and the Texas Department of State Health Services Monday announced guidelines for distribution of COVID-19 vaccines in the state.

Vaccines could be available as early as next month, but Craine said she doesn’t know when they may be available in Central Texas.

Most public school students in Central Texas have the week off for Thanksgiving, but some area districts are continuing to update their COVID-19 dashboards.

BELL COUNTY

The Bell County Public Health District reported 126 additional confirmed cases of the virus Tuesday for a total of 8,238.

Of the total, 1,242 cases were active Tuesday, 6,996 patients have recovered and 112 have died, according to local data.

State data, which include Fort Hood personnel who live on post, showed 8,218 cases.

“As we come into the Thanksgiving holiday please remember the importance of not gathering, or at the very least limiting gatherings, particularly for those at high risk,” health district Director Dr. Amanda Robison-Chadwell said Tuesday.

The City of Temple has closed some facilities to walk-in traffic through Jan. 18 including the Municipal Building/City Hall; Human Resources; Temple Public Library; Historic Post Office; Parks and Recreation Administration Building; Public Works Service Center; Hillcrest Cemetery, and the Utility Business Office/Municipal Court. Services at the facilities will be available online, by phone, by appointment at curbside or via drive-thru.

The University of Mary Hardin-Baylor dashboard Tuesday showed nine active cases of the virus and a total of 178 since Aug. 1.

Texas A&M University-Central Texas Tuesday showed two active student cases and a total of 12 involving students and four involving staff since March.

The Killeen ISD’s online dashboard Tuesday showed a total of 199 cases involving students and 227 involving staff since March 16 and 21 involving students and 23 involving staff in the past seven days. The district Tuesday reported two cases involving students at Alice Douse Elementary; one involving a student at Clarke Elementary; one involving an employee at Fowler Elementary; two involving employees at Hay Branch Elementary; two involving students at Haynes Elementary; one case involving an employee at Maxdale Elementary; two involving students and one involving an employee at Meadows Elementary; one involving a student at Mountain View Elementary, four involving employees and one involving a student at Oveta Culp Hobby Elementary; one involving an employee at Pershing Park Elementary; two involving students at Richard E. Cavazos Elementary; two involving employees and one involving a student at Willow Springs Elementary; one involving a student at Audie Murphy Middle School; one involving an employee at Eastern Hills Middle School; one involving a student at Nolan Middle School; one involving an employee at Rancier Middle School; two involving students and one involving an employee at Smith Middle School; one involving a student at Union Grove Middle School; one case involving a student at Ellison High School; one involving an employee at Gateway High School; one involving a student at Harker Heights High School; three involving students and two involving employees at Killeen High School; one involving an employee at the KISD Career Center; one involving an employee at Shoemaker High School, and three involving employees at non-campus facilities.

The Killeen ISD will offer free COVID-19 screening to students and employees starting from 7 a.m. to 11 .m. and 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. on regular school days starting on Dec. 3 at the former Nolan Middle School building at 505 Jasper Dr. in Killeen, using the 2nd Street entrance. Screening is by appointment and students younger than 18 require signed waivers from parents or guardians. The state-funded testing uses BinaxNOW nasal swab tests, which provide results in 15 minutes. Information will be available online.

The Temple ISD’s online dashboard Tuesday showed one case at Temple High School; one at Lamar Middle School; one at Travis Middle School; one at Garcia Elementary, and one at Kennedy-Powell Elementary.

The Belton ISD’s online dashboard Tuesday showed one case at the Early Childhood School; three at Lakewood Elementary; two at Miller Heights Elementary; one at Pirtrle Elementary; four at Sparta Elementary; one case at Tarver Elementary; one at Belton Middle School; one at Lake Belton Middle School; one at North Belton Middle School; one at South Belton Middle School; six cases at Belton High School; one at Belton New Tech High School; three at Lake Belton High School, and two at non-campus facilities.

The health district has created a guide for safe holiday practices that’s available online.

BELL COUNTY COVID-19 DEATHS

TEXAS PUBLIC SCHOOL COVID-19 DATA

MCLENNAN COUNTY

The Waco-McLennan County Health District Tuesday reported the county’s 182nd death from the virus, a 69-year-old man.

State data, based on death certificates and county of residence, showed 179 deaths.

The health district reported a record 96 hospitalizations Tuesday, up three from the previous record of 93 set on Monday.

Sixteen of the hospitalized patients were on ventilators Tuesday, and 71 of the 96 are McLennan County residents.

The health district reported an additional 187 confirmed cases of the virus Tuesday, 110 from ongoing surge testing, increasing the total number to 13,817.

Of the total, 1,317 cases were active Tuesday and 12,318 patients have recovered.

The new cases involve 10 residents ranging in age from 1 to 10; 16 who range in age from 11 to 17; 44 who range in age from 18 to 25; 11 who range in age from 26 to 29; 30 residents in their 30s; 23 in their 40s; 28 in their 50s; 14 in their 60s; eight in their 70, and three in their 80s.

Free COVID-19 test sites are in operation in the Waco area after the federal government provided 40,000 test kits to McLennan County as part of the effort to stem the spread of the virus. Additional details are available online.

The health district has contracted with Aardvark Mobile Health to provide mobile COVID-19 tests, using a small truck that can accommodate two testing lines with the capacity to administer as many as 500 tests daily. Additional details are available online.

For those experiencing disabling feelings of loss, change and sadness, short-term counseling is available through the Texans Recovering Together Crisis Counseling Program. A counselor can be requested using an online form or by calling 1-866-576-1101.

Baylor University’s online dashboard showed 131 active cases Tuesday, 114 involving students, 11 involving staff, five involving faculty and one involving a contractor. Over the past seven days, 78 cases have been confirmed for a clinical positivity rate of 3.2%. Since Aug. 1,516 cases have been confirmed. Baylor is offering free voluntary rapid testing for the virus through Wednesday for students, faculty and staff ahead of the Thanksgiving holidays. Fall semester on-campus instruction ends Wednesday. After Thanksgiving, remote instruction is scheduled on Nov. 30 and Dec. 1. Spring classes begin on Jan. 19.

The McLennan Community College dashboard still showed 28 active cases Tuesday, 19 involving students, and a total of 193 in the past three weeks, 165 involving students and 28 involving employees.

The Waco ISD dashboard Tuesday showed a cumulative total of 106 students, 114 staff members and eight classified as “other” have tested positive for the virus since Sept. 28. The district reported no active cases at any of its schools. Students are on Thanksgiving vacation this week.

The Midway ISD’s online dashboard Tuesday showed 31 active cases at Midway High School, 22 of them involving students and nine involving staff. The district also reported two cases involving students and two involving employees at Castleman Creek Elementary; two involving students and seven involving employees at Hewitt Elementary; three cases involving students and three involving employees at South Bosque Elementary; one involving an employee at Speegleville Elementary; one involving a student at Spring Valley Elementary; two involving students and three involving employees at Woodway Elementary; seven involving students and one involving an emlpoyee at Woodgate Elementary; nine involving students and two involving employees at Woodway Middle School, and one involving an employee at a non-campus facility.

The Lorena ISD dashboard Tuesday showed two cases involving students at Lorena Elementary and two involving students at Lorena High School.

The Mart ISD’s online dashboard Tuesday showed five active cases at Mart Elementary and one at Mart High School. Seventeen cases have been confirmed since Aug. 19.

The McGregor ISD’s online dashboard Tuesday showed one active case at McGregor Primary; two at McGregor Elementary; two at Isbill Junior High and two at McGregor High School.

MCLENNAN COUNTY COVID-19 DEATHS

TEXAS PUBLIC SCHOOL COVID-19 DATA

CORYELL COUNTY

Coryell County was still reporting 1,137 confirmed cases Tuesday, 308 of which were active.

At least 814 patients have recovered and 15 have died, according to local data.

State data, which include Texas Department of Criminal Justice inmates, showed 2,327 confirmed cases, an increase of 17, 2,029 recoveries and 16 deaths.

The latest cases include a Copperas Cove boy younger than 10; two male Copperas Cove residents who range in age from 10 to 19; four Copperas Cove women in their 20s; two Copperas Cove men in their 20s; two Copperas Coe women in their 30s; two Copperas Cove men in their 20s; two Copperas Cove women in their 40s; four Copperas Cove men in their 40s; three Copperas Cove men in their 50s; two Copperas Cove women in their 50s; two Copperas Cove men in their 60s, and a Copperas Cove man who’s 80 or older.

The Gatesville ISD’s online dashboard Tuesday showed 19 cases involving students and six involving employees at Gatesville High School; eight involving junior high students and one involving a junior high employee; three involving intermediate students and three involving employees; three involving primary students and four involving employees, and one involving an administration building employee.

The Copperas Cove ISD’s online dashboard Tuesday showed 19 active cases at Copperas Cove High School, four of them involving employees and 15 involving students; one involving an employee at Crossroads High School; one involving a student and two involving employees at Cove Junior High; two involving students and four involving employees at S.C. Lee Junior High; one involving a student and one involving an employee at Clements-Parsons Elementary; two involving employees at Fairview Jewell Elementary; one involving a student and one involving an employee at Hettie Halstead Elementary; one involving a student at House Creek Elementary; one involving a student at Martin Walker Elementary; one involving an employee at Mae Stevens Early Learning Academy, and one involving an employee at the District Service and Training Center.

The Texas Department of Criminal Justice Tuesday showed 73 cases involving inmates and 31 cases involving employees at the Christina Melton Crain Unit in Gatesville where 345 inmates were on medical restriction and 73 were isolated; three cases involving employees at the Hilltop Unit in Gatesville where 40 inmates were restricted; three cases involving inmates and10 involving employees at the Alfred D. Hughes Unit in Gatesville where 213 inmates were medically restricted and four were medically isolated; seven cases involving employees at the Mountain View Unit in Gatesville where 10 inmates were medically restricted; one case involving an employee at the Dr. Lane Murray Unit in Gatesville, and two cases involving inmates and six involving employees at the Linda Woodman State Jail in Gatesville where 163 inmates were restricted and two were isolated.

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.

TEXAS PUBLIC SCHOOL COVID-19 DATA

FALLS COUNTY

Falls County reported 773 total cases Tuesday.

Of the total, 685 patients have recovered.

Fourteen have died.

The Texas Department of Criminal Justice Tuesday reported one case involving in inmate and 32 cases involving employees at the William Hobby Unit in Marlin where 79 inmates were medically restricted and one was isolated, and 30 cases involving inmates and seven involving employees at the Marlin Transfer Unit where 354 inmates were medically restricted and 31 were medically isolated.

LIMESTONE COUNTY

Limestone County reported 771 confirmed cases Tuesday, an increase of seven.

Of the total, 676 patients have recovered.

The virus has claimed 18 lives in the county, according to state data.

The first resident to die 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.

TEXAS PUBLIC SCHOOL COVID-19 DATA

NAVARRO COUNTY

Navarro County reported 44 additional confirmed cases of the virus Tuesday, increasing the county’s total to 1,803.

The county also reported 776 probable cases of the virus for a total of 2,579.

Of that number, 326 cases were active Tuesday, six patients were hospitalized and 2,208 have recovered.

The virus has claimed 45 lives in the county, according to local data.

State data showed 35 deaths.

TEXAS PUBLIC SCHOOL COVID-19 DATA

OTHER COUNTIES

According to the latest figures Tuesday Bosque County was reporting 520 cases, an increase of 23, and 417 recoveries. State data based on death certificates and county of residence showed 15 deaths.

Freestone County reported a total of 503 cases Tuesday, an increase of eight since Friday. Of the total 460 patients have recovered. A 12th resident has died, according to state data. The Texas Department of Criminal Justice Tuesday reported four cases involving employees at the William Boyd Unit in Teague.

Hamilton County reported 280 cases Tuesday, an increase of two. Of the total 211 patients have recovered. State data showed seven deaths in the county.

Hill County reported a total of 1,171 cases Tuesday, an increase of 21, and 883 recoveries. Eighteen residents have died, according to state data. The Hill College dashboard Tuesday showed two active cases involving students and two involving employees at the school’s Hillsboro campus. The Hillsboro ISD reported three cases involving students at Hillsboro Elementary; three cases involving students at Hillsboro Intermediate; six cases involving students and one involving an employee at Hillsboro Junior High and 14 involving students and two involving employees at Hillsboro High School.

Lampasas County reported 367 cases Tuesday, an increase of four, and 318 recoveries. Ten residents have died.

Leon County reported 433 cases Tuesday, an increase if six, and 371 recoveries. State data showed 14 deaths.

Milam County reported 633 confirmed cases Tuesday, an increase of 12. Of the total, 42 cases were active, two patients were hospitalized and 595 have recovered. Nine residents have died.

Mills County reported 129 cases Tuesday and 87 recoveries. State data showed four deaths. The county’s first death from the virus was reported on Oct. 21.

Robertson County was reporting 535 confirmed cases Tuesday. Of the total, 62 cases were active and 467 patients have recovered. Six residents have died, according to local data. State data showed seven deaths.

San Saba County reported 301 cases Tuesday and 227 recoveries. Six residents have died, state data showed. The Texas Department of Criminal Justice reported two cases involving inmates and five involving employees at the San Saba Transfer Unit where 22 inmates were medically restricted and two were isolated.

TEXAS PUBLIC SCHOOL COVID-19 DATA

COVID-19 INFORMATION, LINKS AND RESOURCES

(Paul J. Gately contributed to this story)

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