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Regional COVID-19 death toll rises to more than 600, statewide toll nears 24,000

The Central Texas COVID-19 death toll rose to more than 600 Monday. (File)
The Central Texas COVID-19 death toll rose to more than 600 Monday. (File)(KALB)
Published: Dec. 14, 2020 at 2:58 PM CST|Updated: Dec. 14, 2020 at 7:04 PM CST
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(KWTX) - The Central Texas COVID-19 death toll rose to more than 600 Monday, the statewide toll increased to 23,937 and the U.S. toll rose to more than 300,000 as the first shipments of the Pfizer vaccine arrived in the state.

Five additional deaths were reported Monday in Bell County, three more deaths were reported in McLennan and Freestone counties, two more deaths were reported in Coryell, Hill and Navarro counties and additional deaths were reported as well in Lampasas and Leon counties.

The virus may have claimed as many as 623 lives in Central Texas, but according to state data Wednesday at least 605 have died including 140 Bell County residents, five more than the local count of 135; 16 Bosque County residents; 22 Coryell County residents, four more than the local count of 18; 15 Falls County residents; 20 Freestone County residents; 12 Hamilton County residents; 25 Hill County residents; 12 Lampasas County residents; 19 Leon County residents; 20 Limestone County residents; 223 McLennan County residents, 13 fewer than the local count of 236; 10 Milam County residents, one more than the local count of nine; eight Mills County residents; 43 Navarro County residents, five fewer than the local count of 48; nine Robertson County residents, two more than the local count of seven, and 11 San Saba County residents.

The total number of cases confirmed in Central Texas rose by nearly 1,000 over the weekend to 39,492.

The statewide count increased by 8,883 cases Monday, 8,771 of them new, to 1,337,096, up 29,218 from Friday’s count of 1,307,878.

At least 9,304 patients were hospitalized statewide Monday, about 200 more than on Friday, and in the two Trauma Service Areas that include most of Central Texas, at least 259 were in hospitals.

COVID-19 patients accounted for 28% of all hospitalizations and occupied about 20% of available beds Monday in Trauma Service Area M, which includes Bosque, Falls, Hill, Limestone, well above the 15% ceiling, which triggers capacity reductions under orders Gov. Greg Abbott issued on Sept. 17 and Oct. 7.

In Trauma Serve Area L, which includes Bell, Coryell, Hamilton, Lampasas, Milam and Mills counties, COVID-19 patients accounted for almost 18% of all hospitalizations and filled 11.6% of available beds.

More than 12.2 million tests have been administered statewide.

The Lab Test Result Date clinical positivity rate was 12.41% Monday, down from 13.14% Friday.

The first doses of Prizer’s COVID-19 vaccine were administered Monday to health care workers in Dallas, Houston, San Antonio and Austin.

Scott & White Medical Center in Temple will receive 3,900 doses this week and Baylor Scott & White Hillcrest Medical Center and Ascension Providence Hospital in Waco will each receive 975.

Carl R. Darnall Army Medical Center is one of 12 military facilities in the U.S. that will receive part of an initial allotment of 43,875 doses of vaccine from the Department of Defense, the Pentagon announced Wednesday. Wilford Hall at Joint Base San Antonio will also receive an allotment. Distribution will be conducted in phases, the Pentagon said.

As additional shipments arrive and the vaccination of the general public begins, a legal expert Monday said employers could require employees to get the shots.

“Right now, the vaccine is new and I think you are going to see a lot of businesses approach it with the wait and see method,” South Texas College of Law constitutional law Professor Josh Blackman said Monday.

“They are going to wait and see who takes it voluntarily before they require it.”

The Texas Department of State Health Services reconfigured its COVID-19 dashboard Friday and there were still some apparent inaccuracies in the data reported Monday.

The state data, for example, showed more recoveries than cases in several Central Texas counties.

BELL COUNTY

The Bell County Public Health District Monday reported the deaths of five more residents diagnosed with the virus, a Temple man in his 80s, a Killeen woman in her 90s, two Temple men in their 60s, and a Harker Heights woman in her 60s, increasing the virus’ toll in the county to 135, according to local data.

The health district also reported 315 additional confirmed cases of the virus Monday, 224 of them new, raising the county’s total to 10,420, up from 10,105 on Friday.

Of the total, 1,759 cases were active Monday and 8,661 patients have recovered.

State data, which includes Fort Hood personnel who live on post, showed 10,211 cases and 140 deaths.

“As always we want to remind everyone to take extra precautions,” health district director Dr. Amanda Robison-Chadwell said Monday.

“Please social distance, remain at home if at all possible, wear a mask if you cannot social distance and wash your hands. If you have any signs of illness please stay home.”

Free mobile COVID-19 testing is available from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday and Tuesday at the Killeen Special Events Center at 3301 South WS Young Dr. in Killeen. Register online.

The Central Texas Food Bank will distribute food from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. on Saturday at Temple College at 2600 South 1st St. in Temple.

The University of Mary Hardin-Baylor dashboard Monday showed four current cases of the virus and a total of 192 since Aug. 1.

Texas A&M University-Central Texas Monday showed one active case involving an employee and a total of 16 student cases and six employee cases since March. All students must complete online training on safe practices before returning for the spring semester.

The Killeen ISD’s online dashboard Monday showed 340 cases involving students and 372 involving employees since March 16, and 47 student cases and 51 staff cases in the past seven days. The district Monday reported one active case involving an employee at Clarke Elementary; and cases involving two students and six employees at Fowler Elementary; one employee at Harker Heights Elementary; two students at Haynes Elementary; four students at Iduma Elementary; two students and two employees at Maude Wood Elementary; two students and three employees at Maxdale Elementary; eight employees at Montague Village Elementary; two students at Mountain View Elementary; one employee at Nolanville Elementary; a student and two employees at Peebles Elementary; a student at Pershing Park Elementary; an employee at Reeces Creek Elementary; a student and an employee at Richard E. Cavazos Elementary; three students at Timber Ridge Elementary; four students at Trimmier Elementary; an employee at West Ward Elementary; an employee at Willow Springs Elementary; two students and two employees at Audie Murphy Middle School; three students and an employee at Charles Patterson Middle School; a student and an employee at Eastern Hills Middle School; two students and three employees at Liberty Hill Middle School; three employees at Manor Middle School; an employee at Nolan Middle School; a student and three employees at Smith Middle School; two employees at Union Grove Middle School; two students and an employee at Ellison High School; an employee at Gateway High School; three students and three employees at Harker Heights High School; four students and an employee at Killeen High School; three students and two employees at the KISD Career Center; three students at Shoemaker High School, and one employee at a non-campus facility.

The Killeen ISD is offering free COVID-19 screening to students and employees from 7 a.m. to 11 .m. and 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. on regular school days 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 is available online.

The Temple ISD’s online dashboard Monday showed five cases at Temple High School; three at Travis Elementary; one at Cater Elementary; one at Garcia Elementary, one at Jefferson Elementary, one at Scott Elementary, and one at Western Elementary.

The Belton ISD’s online dashboard Monday showed two cases at the Belton Early Childhood School; one case at Charter Oak Elementary; three cases at Chisholm Trail Elementary; one at High Point Elementary; one at Lakewood Elementary; one at Leon Heights Elementary; one at Miller Heights Elementary; two at Pirtle Elementary; five at Southwest Elementary; two at Sparta Elementary; five at Tarver Elementary; two at Belton Middle School; two at Lake Belton Middle School; 11 at North Belton Middle School; four at South Belton Middle School; 13 at Belton High School; one at Belton New Tech High School; eight at Lake Belton High School, and three at non-campus facilities.

The health district has created an online guide for safe holiday practices.

BELL COUNTY COVID-19 DEATHS

TEXAS PUBLIC SCHOOL COVID-19 DATA

MCLENNAN COUNTY

The Waco-McLennan County Health District Monday reported the deaths of three more residents diagnosed with the virus, a 58-year-old woman, a 60-year-old man and a 75-year-old man, increasing the virus’ toll to 236.

State data, based on death certificates and county of residence, showed 223 deaths.

The health district reported a total of 16,431 confirmed cases of the virus Monday, an increase of 304 since Friday.

Officials reported 147 new confirmed cases on Saturday, 92 cases on Sunday and 65 on Monday.

None of the new cases Monday was from ongoing surge testing.

Of the total, 742 cases were active Monday, 15,453 patients have recovered and 108 were hospitalized, tying a record set on Dec. 4.

Of the 108, 15 were on ventilators and 77 were McLennan County residents.

The most recent cases involve one resident younger than 1; five who range in age from 11 to 17; 14 who range in age from 18 to 25; eight who range in age from 26 to 29; nine residents in their 30s; eight residents in their 40s; eight residents in their 50s; six residents in their 60s; four residents in their 70s, and two residents who are 80 or older.

COVID-19 patients occupied almost 20% of available hospital beds and represented 28% of all hospitalizations Monday in the state Trauma Service Area that includes McLennan County.

That exceeds the 15% limit, triggering capacity reductions and restricting elective surgeries under orders Gov. Greg Abbott issued on Sept. 17 and Oct. 7.

Robinson residents may encounter delays if they have business at city hall after several employees tested positive for COVID-19 over the weekend. “Due to this, you may experience delays with your calls being answered and/or returned. There will also be delays in processing utility payments, activating new services, and submitting disconnects,” officials said in a post on the city’s website.

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 64 active cases Monday, 43 involving students and 21 involving staff members. Since Aug. 1, 1,669 cases have been confirmed. In the past seven days, 37 have tested positive for a clinical positivity rate of 3.3%. The fall semester has ended. The university’s “Wintermester” begins on Dec. 17. Spring classes begin on Jan. 19. Students, faculty and staff will be required to test negative for the virus before returning to campus for the spring semester.

The McLennan Community College dashboard wasn’t updated Monday and still showed 14 active cases Friday, three involving students, and a total of 224 in the past three weeks, 183 involving students. Fall semester classes have ended.

The Waco ISD dashboard Monday showed 153 cumulative cases involving students, 164 involving staff and 10 involving personnel designated as “other.” The dashboard showed no active cases at any of the district’s schools. On-campus instruction has been suspended for the remainder of the fall semester at Cesar Chavez Middle School, South Waco Elementary School

The Midway ISD’s online dashboard Monday showed three cases involving students and four involving employees at Castleman Creek Elementary; one involving a student and one involving an employee at Hewitt Elementary; three involving students and three involving employees at Spring Valley Elementary; one involving an employee at River Valley Intermediate; four involving students and four involving employees at Woodgate Intermediate; three involving students at Midway Middle School; nine involving students and eight involving staff at Midway High School, and one involving an employee at a non-campus facility.

The Lorena ISD dashboard Monday showed one case involving an employee at Lorena Primary; one involving an employee at Lorena Elementary; one involving an employee at Lorena Middle School, and one involving a student and one involving an employee at Lorena High School.

The Mart ISD’s online dashboard Monday showed five active cases at Mart High School, 30 of whose students were quarantined, and three at Mart Elementary, 12 of whose students were quarantined. Both schools have suspended on-campus instruction through the end of the fall semester.

The McGregor ISD’s online dashboard Monday showed three active cases at McGregor Primary; six active cases at McGregor Elementary; two at Isbill Junior High; and four at McGregor High School. McGregor Elementary School students will learn from home through Dec. 18 because of COVID-19 concerns. Students won’t return to campus until Jan. 5, after the Christmas holiday. The district’s other campuses remain open.

MCLENNAN COUNTY COVID-19 DEATHS

TEXAS PUBLIC SCHOOL COVID-19 DATA

CORYELL COUNTY

Coryell County was still reporting 1,517 total cases of the virus Monday.

Of the total, 402 cases were active and 1,097 patients have recovered.

The county reported 18 deaths Friday.

State data, which include Texas Department of Criminal Justice inmates, showed 2,781 active cases Monday and 2,481 recoveries. State data also showed two more deaths in the county for a total of 22.

The county’s latest cases include one involving a Copperas Cove girl who’s younger than 10; one involving a female Copperas Cove resident who ranges in age from 10 to 19; two involving male Copperas Cove residents ranging in age from 10 to 19; two involving Copperas Cove women in their 20s; one involving a Copperas Cove man in his 20s; one involving a Copperas Cove woman in her 50s; one involving a Copperas Cove man in his 50s; two involving Copperas Cove women in their 60s; two involving Copperas Cove man in their 60s, and one involving a Copperas Cove man who’s 80 or older.

The Gatesville ISD’s online dashboard Monday showed 19 active cases at Gatesville High School, 15 involving students; eight cases involving students at the junior high; seven involving students and three involving staff at the intermediate school; four cases involving students and one involving an employee at the elementary school; four involving students at the primary school; two cases involving administration staff, and one involving a transportation staff member.

The Copperas Cove ISD’s online dashboard Monday showed 11 cases involving students and four involving staff at Copperas Cove High School; eight involving students and one involving an employee at Copperas Cove Junior High; seven involving students and one involving an employee at S.C., Lee Junior High; seven involving students and seven involving employees at Clements Parsons Elementary; one involving an employee at Fairview Jewell Elementary; one involving an employee at House Creek Elementary; one involving an employee at Martin Walker Elementary; two involving students at Williams/Ledger Elementary; three involving students and five involving employees at Mae Stevens Early Learning Academy, and two involving employees at non-campus facilities. On-campus instruction has been suspended for the remainder of the fall semester at Clement/Parsons Elementary School because of the increase in the number of positive tests and potential exposures to the virus.

The Texas Department of Criminal Justice Monday reported eight cases involving inmates and 17 involving employees at the Christina Melton Crain Unit in Gatesville where 154 inmates were on medical restriction and eight were isolated; one case involving and inmate and five involving employees at the Hilltop Unit in Gatesville where 32 inmates were restricted and one was isolated; five cases involving inmates and 14 involving employees at the Alfred D. Hughes Unit in Gatesville where 170 inmates were medically restricted and seven were medically isolated; three cases involving employees at the Mountain View Unit in Gatesville; four cases involving employees at the Dr. Lane Murray Unit in Gatesville, and two cases involving inmates and seven involving employees at the Linda Woodman State Jail in Gatesville where 148 inmates were medically restricted and three 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 885 total cases Monday, an increase of 13 since Friday.

Of the total, 827 patients have recovered.

Fifteen residents diagnosed with the virus have died, according to state data.

The Texas Department of Criminal Justice Friday reported 13 cases involving employees at the William Hobby Unit in Marlin where 83 inmates were medically restricted, and 18 cases involving inmates and eight involving employees at the Marlin Transfer Unit where 98 inmates were medically restricted and 18 were medically isolated.

Preliminary autopsy results indicate COVID-19 was a contributing cause of the death of Ashley Rodriguez, 32, an inmate at the Hobby Unit in Marlin, who was diagnosed with the virus-19 on Sept. 19, the Texas Department of Criminal Justice announced Monday.

Rodriguez, who had pre-existing medical conditions, died on Nov. 1 at a hospital in Temple. She had served six years of a 75-year sentence out of Nueces County.

LIMESTONE COUNTY

Limestone County reported 894 total cases Monday, an increase of 21 since Friday.

Of the total, at least 745 patients have recovered.

The virus has claimed the lives of 20 county residents, according to state data.

TEXAS PUBLIC SCHOOL COVID-19 DATA

NAVARRO COUNTY

Navarro County Monday reported 2,116 confirmed cases, an increase of 76 since Friday, and 1,040 probable cases for a total of 3,156.

The county reported two more deaths Monday for a total of 48.

State data showed 43 deaths.

TEXAS PUBLIC SCHOOL COVID-19 DATA

OTHER COUNTIES

According to the latest figures Monday Bosque County reported 589 cases and 562 recoveries. State data based on death certificates and county of residence showed 16 deaths.

Freestone County reported a total of 559 cases Monday. Of the total at least 495 patients have recovered. Three more residents have died, state data showed, raising the virus’ toll in the county to 20. The Texas Department of Criminal Justice Monday reported four cases involving employees at the William Boyd Unit in Teague.

Hamilton County reported 338 cases Monday, an increase of six. Of the total 301 patients have recovered. State data showed 12 deaths.

Hill County reported a total of 1,533 cases Monday, an increase of 138 since Friday, and 1,326 recoveries. Twenty five residents have now died, according to state data. The Hill College dashboard Monday showed one active student case on the Hillsboro campus. The Hillsboro ISD Monday showed one student case at Franklin Elementary School; six cases involving students and one involving an employee at Hillsboro Elementary; eight student and two employee cases at Hillsboro Intermediate; six student and two employee cases at Hillsboro Middle School, and nine student and three employee cases at Hillsboro High School.

Lampasas County reported 497 cases Monday and 439 recoveries. A 12th resident has died, according to state data.

Leon County reported 493 total cases Monday, an increase of eight since Friday, and at least 413 recoveries. State data showed a 19th death. The Buffalo ISD suspended on-campus instruction this week because of “a rapid increase in illness among staff members.”

Milam County reported 748 confirmed cases Monday, an increase of 11 since Monday. Of the total, 91 cases were active, 15 patients were hospitalized and 687 have recovered. Ten residents have died.

Mills County reported 185 cases Monday and 143 recoveries. State data showed eight deaths from the virus. The county’s first COVID-19 death was reported on Oct. 21.

Robertson County reported 584 confirmed cases Monday. Of the total at least 517 patients have recovered, and seven residents have died, according to local data. State data showed nine deaths. The Robertson County courthouse was closed effective at 8 a.m. Monday and will remain closed until further notice because of COVID-19. Robertson County Judge Charles Ellison issued the closure order early Monday morning.

ROBCO please make a note that this page is NOT monitored 24/7. If you need law enforcement assistance or want to report...

Posted by Robertson County Sheriff's Office on Monday, April 27, 2020

San Saba County reported 321 cases Monday and at least 300 recoveries. Eleven residents have died, state data showed. The Texas Department of Criminal Justice reported one case involving an inmate and nine involving employees Monday at the San Saba Transfer Unit where 112 inmates were medically restricted and three were isolated.

TEXAS PUBLIC SCHOOL COVID-19 DATA

COVID-19 INFORMATION, LINKS AND RESOURCES

(Drake Lawson contributed to this story)

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