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COVID-19 hospitalizations continue to rise, Central Texas case total tops 50,000

COVID-19 hospitalizations in Central Texas and statewide were at or near record levels again...
COVID-19 hospitalizations in Central Texas and statewide were at or near record levels again Wednesday as the total number of confirmed cases in the region rose to more than 50,000. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson, File)(Jeff Roberson | AP)
Published: Jan. 6, 2021 at 6:31 PM CST
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(KWTX) - COVID-19 hospitalizations in Central Texas and statewide were at or near record levels again Wednesday as the total number of confirmed cases in the region rose by 816 to 50,476.

A record 13,628 patients were hospitalized statewide Wednesday, 320 more than on Tuesday.

In Trauma Service Area L, which includes Bell, Coryell, Hamilton, Lampasas, Milam and Mills counties, at least 237 COVID-19 patients were hospitalized Wednesday, accounting for about 29% all hospitalizations and filling about 22% of available beds.

The Texas Department of State Health Services advised the counties Tuesday that the TSA’s hospitalization rate is sufficiently high to trigger capacity reductions.

At least 192 COVID-19 patients were hospitalized Wednesday in Trauma Service Area M, which includes McLennan, Bosque, Falls, Hill and Limestone counties, accounting for about 42% of all hospitalizations and occupying about 34% of available beds, well above the 15% ceiling that triggers capacity reductions under orders Gov. Greg Abbott issued on Sept. 17 and Oct. 7.

Freestone, Leon, Navarro and Robertson counties are also in Trauma Service Areas in which hospitalization rates exceed 15%.

The virus may have claimed as many as 817 lives in Central Texas, but according to state data Wednesday, at least 813 have died including 177 Bell County residents, 12 more than the local count of 165; 18 Bosque County residents; 34 Coryell County residents, 13 more than the local count of 21; 18 Falls County residents; 24 Freestone County residents; 17 Hamilton County residents; 35 Hill County residents; 15 Lampasas County residents; 25 Leon County residents; 31 Limestone County residents; 294 McLennan County residents, one fewer than the local count of 295; 15 Milam County residents, one more that the local count of 14; 12 Mills County residents; 63 Navarro County residents, three fewer than the local count of 66; 21 Robertson County residents, and 14 San Saba County residents.

The statewide death toll rose by 326 to 28,545 Wednesday.

DSHS reported another 19,814 cases of the virus Wednesday, 19,535 of them new, raising the statewide total to 1,646,382.

Of the total, 320,540 cases were active Wednesday and 1,504,643 patients have recovered.

About 14.37 million tests have been administered statewide.

The Lab Test Date positivity rate Wednesday was 20.21%, down slightly from 20.53% on Tuesday.

Experts say a positivity rate of 5% or less indicates the virus is under control.

The Texas Division of Emergency Management has opened a COVID-19 therapeutic infusion center in Austin to treat outpatient cases of COVID-19 using Regeneron, Gov. Greg Abbott announced Monday.

Patients must meet certain criteria and must be referred by a hospital or doctor.

VACCINATIONS

The Texas Department of State Health Services vaccination dashboard Wednesday showed 1.375 million doses of vaccine have been shipped and 475,627 initial and 6,418 secondary vaccinations have been administered.

Frontline healthcare workers and residents and employees of long-term care facilities are first in line to receive the vaccine in Texas, under Phase 1A of the state’s distribution plan, followed in the second phase by residents 65 and older and residents 16 or older with such chronic medical conditions as cancer, kidney disease, COPD, heart disease, severe obesity, pregnancy, sickle cell disease and Type 2 diabetes.

DSHS reported Wednesday that 3,573 of 22,610 Bell residents eligible under Phase 1A have been vaccinated and that three have received the second dose and that 3,557 of 17,922 eligible McLennan County residents have been vaccinated and that five have received the second dose.

The dashboard Wednesday showed the administration of 185 initial vaccinations and one secondary vaccination in Bosque County; 587 initial vaccinations and one secondary vaccination in Coryell County; 123 initial vaccinations in Falls County; 65 in Freestone County; 443 in Hamilton County; 425 initial vaccinations and two secondary vaccinations in Hill County; 166 initial vaccinations in Lampasas County; 159 initial vaccinations and one secondary vaccination in Leon County; 113 initial vaccinations in Limestone County; 159 initial vaccinations in Milam County; 132 in Mills County; 529 initial vaccinations and one secondary vaccination in Navarro County; 127 initial vaccinations in Robertson County, and 16 in San Saba County.

The Bell County Public Health District has created an online waiting list for residents who want to be notified when the district has the vaccine available.

Information about the vaccine in McLennan County is also available online.

Baylor Scott & White Health has created a sign-up page for updates on the scheduling of Phase 1B vaccinations.

Veterans can get up-to-date information on VA’s VA COVID-19 vaccine webpage, which launched on Dec. 11, may sign up for regular updates on the vaccine on the vaccine on the VA’s Stay Informed page, and may contact their primary care providers through www.myhealth.va.gov or by calling 1-800-423-2111.

VACCINE PROVIDER MAP

BELL COUNTY VACCINE REGISTRATION

MCLENNAN COUNTY VACCINE INFORMATION

BELL COUNTY

The Bell County Public Health District reported 426 additional cases of the virus Wednesday, a near-record 337 of them new.

Of the total, 2,682 cases were active Wednesday and 11,773 patients have recovered.

Local data showed 165 deaths.

State data showed 177 deaths, an increase of one.

“I talked with the state about the lack of updated death records and there seems to be a technical hiccup regarding those records dated after 2020. We will update that data as soon as we have it,” Bell County Public Health District Director Dr. Amanda Robison-Chadwell said.

Killeen Dist. 3 City Councilman Jim Kilpatrick, 73, who was diagnosed with COVID-19 in late December, has died, the city announced Wednesday. Kilpatrick was admitted last month to AdventHealth Central Texas and was later moved from intensive care to the hospital’s Critical Care Unit. Funeral services were pending.

Bars that don’t serve food must close, restaurants and businesses must reduce capacity and elective surgeries are on hold in Bell County as COVID-19 hospitalizations continue to rise, Bell County Judge David Blackburn announced Wednesday. The bar closure order affects 43 of the more than 300 bars in Bell County, Blackburn said during a virtual news conference Wednesday. The 43 bars hold only mixed drink permits. Restaurants and businesses must roll back capacity from 75% to 50%. Occupancy limits don’t apply to churches, schools, hair salons and essential services, he said.

In state Trauma Service Area L, which includes Bell, Coryell, Hamilton, Lampasas, Milam and Mills counties, at least 237 COVID-19 patients were hospitalized Wednesday, accounting for about 29% all hospitalizations and filling about 22% of available beds.

The Texas Department of State Health Services advised the counties Tuesday that the TSA’s hospitalization rate is sufficiently high to trigger capacity reductions under orders Gov. Greg Abbott issued on Sept. 17 and Oct. 7.

The temporary restrictions and rollbacks will remain in place until COVID-19 hospitalizations drop.

Bell County Public Health District Director Dr. Amanda Robison-Chadwell says she thinks case counts will begin to decline now that the holidays are over.

“To be very honest with you I thought our numbers would be far worse than they are coming out of the holiday season, there is a light at the end of the tunnel,” she said.

A temporary drive-thru state testing site will be open from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Jan. 11 and Jan. 12 at the Killeen Special Events Center at 3301 South WS Young Dr. Online registration is required.

Testing is available from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Wednesdays in January at Nolanville’s Central Fire Station at 84 North Main St. Registration is not required.

The Central Texas Food Bank will distribute food from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. on Jan. 16 at Temple College at 2600 South 1st St.

Holland’s city hall is closed until further notice after some city employees tested positive for the virus.

The University of Mary Hardin-Baylor dashboard Wednesday showed a cumulative total of 193 cases since Aug. 1. Spring classes begin on Jan. 11.

Texas A&M University-Central Texas Wednesday reported 23 positive tests for the virus since March, 17 involving students. All students must complete online training on safe practices before returning for the spring semester, which starts on Jan. 19.

The Killeen ISD’s online dashboard Wednesday showed a total of 452 cases involving students and 570 involving staff since March 16 and 15 involving students and 73 involving staff in the past seven days. The dashboard showed one active case involving a student Wednesday at Alice Douse Elementary; three involving employees at Bellaire Elementary; one involving an employee at Brookhaven Elementary; two involving employees at Cedar Valley Elementary; one involving a student and one involving an employee at Clear Creek Elementary; three involving employees at Clifton Park Elementary; three involving employees at Fowler Elementary; three involving employees at Harker Heights Elementary; one involving a student and one involving an employee at Hay Branch Elementary; one involving a student and two involving employees at Iduma Elementary; two involving employees at Maude Moore Wood Elementary; one involving an employee at Maxdale Elementary; one involving an employee at Meadows Elementary; one involving an employee at Mountain View Elementary; one involving an employee at Oveta Culp Hobby Elementary; two involving employees at Peebles Elementary; one involving an employee at Pershing Park Elementary; two involving employees at Richard E. Cavazos Elementary; two involving employees at Saegert Elementary; three involving employees at Skipcha Elementary; one involving an employee at Timber Ridge Elementary; two involving students and five involving employees at Trimmier Elementary; two involving students and two involving employees at Venable Village Elementary; one involving an employee at Audie Murphy Middle School; one involving an employee at Charles Patterson Middle School; three involving employees at Liberty Hill Middle School; one involving an employee at Live Oak Ridge Middle School; one involving a student and two involving employees at Manor Middle School; three involving employees at Nolan Middle School; one involving an employee at Palo Alto Middle School; one involving an employee at Rancier Middle School; three involving students and four involving employees at Smith Middle School; one involving an employee at Ellison High School; one involving an employee at Harker Heights High School; two involving students and two involving employees at Killeen High School; one involving a student at the KISD Career Center; two involving employees at Shoemaker High School, and seven involving employees at non-campus facilities.

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 Wednesday showed four cases at Temple High School, two at Lamar Middle School, one at Jefferson Elementary, one at Scott Elementary, and two at an administrative facility.

The Belton ISD’s online dashboard Wednesday showed three cases at the Belton Early Childhood School; two at Charter Oak Elementary; two at Chisholm Trail Elementary; one at High Point Elementary; four at Lakewood Elementary; two at Leon Heights Elementary; one at Pirtle Elementary; four at Southwest Elementary; one at Sparta Elementary; one at Tarver Elementary; one at Belton Middle School; two at Lake Belton Middle School; three at North Belton Middle School; one at South Belton Middle School; 14 at Belton High School; one at Belton New Tech High School; seven at Lake Belton High School, and five at non-campus facilities.

BELL COUNTY VACCINE REGISTRATION

BELL COUNTY COVID-19 DEATHS

TEXAS PUBLIC SCHOOL COVID-19 DATA

MCLENNAN COUNTY

The Waco-McLennan County Health District Wednesday reported the deaths of three more residents diagnosed with the virus, a 65-year-old man, a 75-year-old man and a 70-year-old man, raising the county’s death toll to 295.

State data, based on death certificates and county of residence, showed 294 deaths.

The health district also reported an additional 208 confirmed cases of the virus Wednesday, boosting the county’s total to 20,006.

Of the total, 1,454 cases were active Wednesday, 18,257 patients have recovered, and 155 were hospitalized, 30 of them on ventilators.

Ninety nine of the 155 are McLennan County residents.

The most recent cases involve one resident who’s younger than a year old; eight who range in age from 1 to 10; 12 who range in age from 11 to 17; 25 who range in age from 18 to 25; 17 who range in age from 26 to 29; 27 residents in their 30s; 26 in their 40s; 17 in their 50s; 26 in their 60s; 19 in their 70s; 18 who are 80 or older, and one whose age was unavailable.

Seventy six of the cases and 112 of the deaths stem from outbreaks at 14 elder care facilities,” Waco Family Health Center CEO Dr. Jackson Griggs said.

The county’s positivity rate is 27%, Griggs said, well above the 5% that indicates the virus is under control.

The county, he said, has been “above the tipping point for over two months.”

“The fact that we’re at 27% means we’re not doing enough testing in our community to identify where the virus is spreading,” he said, and it also indicates “we’re likely underreporting.”

Ascension Providence Hospital and Baylor Scott & White Hillcrest Medical Center have worked diligently to manage capacity as the number of hospitalized patients rose, Dr. Brian Becker of Ascension Providence said.

“We really haven’t had to dig into those surge plans until recently,” he said.

At least 192 COVID-19 patients were hospitalized Wednesday in the Trauma Service Area that includes McLennan County, accounting for about 42% of all hospitalizations and occupying about 34% of available beds, which is well above the 15% ceiling that triggers capacity reductions under orders Gov. Greg Abbott issued on Sept. 17 and Oct. 7.

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. 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.

The Central Texas Food Bank will distribute food from 10 a.m. to noon on Jan. 28 at Waco ISD Stadium at 1401 South New Road.

Baylor University’s online dashboard showed 30 active cases Wednesday and 21 positive tests in the past seven days. A total of 1,850 cases have been confirmed since Aug. 1. Lady Bears head coach Kim Mulkey tested positive for the virus on Monday and is isolating. 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 Monday showed nine active cases, eight involving employees. In the past three weeks, 235 cases have been confirmed, 184 of which involve employees. Faculty and staff returned to campus Monday Spring semester classes start on Jan. 11. The college says it will continue to offer classes in blended-hybrid and online formats.

The Waco ISD dashboard Wednesday showed cumulative totals of 181 students and 213 employees diagnosed with the virus since Sept. 8. The dashboard showed one active case at Bell’s Hill Elementary; one at Cedar Ridge Elementary; one at Cesar Chavez Middle School; one at G.W. Carver Middle School, and two at Waco High School.

The Midway ISD’s online dashboard Wednesday showed one case involving a student at Castleman Creek Elementary; three involving students and three involving employees at Hewitt Elementary; one involving a student at South Bosque Elementary; four involving students and two involving employees at Spring Valley Elementary; one involving a student at Woodway Elementary; two involving students and three involving employees at River Valley Intermediate; four involving students and three involving employees at Woodgate Intermediate; six involving students and eight involving employees at Midway Middle School; seven involving students and one involving an employee at Midway High School, and one involving an employee at a non-campus facility.

The Lorena ISD dashboard Wednesday showed three cases involving students at Lorena Primary School; five involving students and two involving employees at Lorena Elementary, and one involving a student and three involving employees at Lorena High School.

The Mart ISD’s online dashboard Wednesday showed two active cases at Mart High School.

The McGregor ISD’s online dashboard Wednesday showed two cases at McGregor Primary School; three at McGregor Elementary; six at Isbill Junior High, and six at McGregor High School.

MCLENNAN COUNTY VACCINE INFORMATION

MCLENNAN COUNTY COVID-19 DEATHS

TEXAS PUBLIC SCHOOL COVID-19 DATA

CORYELL COUNTY

Coryell County reported 2,186 confirmed cases Wednesday.

Of the total, 424 cases were active, 1,741 patients have recovered, and 21 have died.

State data, which includes inmates in Texas prison units, showed 3,663 total cases, 3,061 recoveries and a 34th death.

In state Trauma Service Area L, which includes Bell, Coryell, Hamilton, Lampasas, Milam and Mills counties, at least 232 COVID-19 patients were hospitalized Tuesday, accounting for about 29% all hospitalizations and filling almost 21% of available beds.

The Texas Department of State Health Services advised the counties Tuesday that the TSA’s hospitalization rate is sufficiently high to trigger capacity reductions under orders Gov. Greg Abbott issued on Sept. 17 and Oct. 7.

Coryell County Judge Roger Miller says the same restrictions are in effect in his county, but says he’s seeking an exemption from the governor’s office on bar closings.

“I have no reason to believe out three bar establishments are significantly responsible for the increased COVID cases in Coryell County or within the TSA,” Miller said in a press release Wednesday.

“I see no reason why our three establishments should be penalized.”

Miller said Coryell County isn’t solely responsible for the rising hospitalization rate in the TSA, but he says it has contributed to the number.

“We are seeing a strain on the healthcare system throughout the region and state,” he said.

“This is exactly what we wanted to avoid when the governor shut down the state in late March of last year. If the rise in the infection rate continues, doctors and medical staff locally and regionally will have to start selecting who receives inpatient treatment, and I believe that may be the case already.”

The Copperas Cove ISD’s online dashboard Wednesday showed five cases involving students and one involving an employee at Cove High School; one involving an employee at Crossroads High; one involving a student at Cove Junior High; one involving a student and two involving employees at S. C. Lee Junior High; three involving students at Clement Parsons Elementary; four involving students and one involving an employee at Fairview Jewell Elementary; four involving employees at Hettie Halstead Elementary; one involving a student and three involving employees at House Creek Elementary; two involving students and three involving employees at Williams/Ledger Elementary; one involving an employee at Mae Stevens Early Learning Academy, and eight involving employees at non-campus facilities.

The Gatesville ISD’s online dashboard Wednesday showed nine cases at Gatesville High School, four involving students; four at Gatesville Junior High, two involving students; three cases at Gatesville Intermediate involving employees; six at Gatesville Elementary, five involving students; two cases involving employees at Gatesville Primary; three involving transportation employees, and one involving a maintenance employee.

The Linda Woodman State Jail in Gatesville was still locked down Wednesday with 107 active cases involving inmates, 14 involving employees, 513 inmates on restriction and 107 inmates in medical isolation.

The Texas Department of Criminal Justice Wednesday reported four cases involving inmates and 28 involving employees at the Christina Melton Crain Unit in Gatesville where 119 inmates were on medical restriction and six were isolated; six cases involving inmates and 18 involving employees at the Hilltop Unit in Gatesville where 180 inmates were restricted and six were isolated; 49 cases involving inmates and 67 involving employees at the Alfred D. Hughes Unit in Gatesville where 512 inmates were medically restricted and 53 were medically isolated; 54 cases involving inmates and 32 involving employees at the Mountain View Unit in Gatesville where 234 inmates were restricted and 54 were isolated, and eight cases involving inmates and 16 involving employees at the Dr. Lane Murray Unit in Gatesville where 342 inmates were restricted and eight 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 had 1,164 confirmed and 61 probable cases of the virus Wednesday, according to state data.

Of the total, 1,029 patients have recovered and 18 have died.

The Texas Department of Criminal Justice Wednesday reported 41 cases involving inmates and 25 cases involving employees at the William Hobby Unit in Marlin where 571 inmates were restricted and 43 were isolated, and eight cases involving employees at the Marlin Transfer Unit where 23 inmates were restricted.

LIMESTONE COUNTY

Limestone County had 1,121 confirmed cases Wednesday, according to state data.

Of the total, 1,123 patients have recovered.

State data showed two more deaths for a total of 31.

TEXAS PUBLIC SCHOOL COVID-19 DATA

NAVARRO COUNTY

Navarro County reported 2,742 confirmed and 1,561 probable cases of the virus Wednesday for a total of 4,303.

Of the total, 3,353 patients have recovered.

Local data showed 66 deaths.

State data showed 63.

TEXAS PUBLIC SCHOOL COVID-19 DATA

OTHER COUNTIES

Bosque County had 728 confirmed and 125 probable cases of the virus Wednesday, according to state data. At least 694 patients have recovered and 18 have died.

Freestone County had 645 confirmed and 308 probable cases of the virus Wednesday, according to state data. Of the total, 829 patients have recovered and 24 have died. The Texas Department of Criminal Justice Wednesday reported seven cases involving inmates and 10 involving employees at the William Boyd Unit in Teague where 226 inmates were medically restricted and seven were isolated.

Hamilton County had 461 confirmed and 34 probable cases of the virus Wednesday, according to state data. At least 397 patients have recovered and 17 have died.

Hill County had 1,928 confirmed and 359 probable cases of the virus Wednesday, according to state data. At least 1,899 patients have recovered and 35 have died. The Hill College dashboard Wednesday showed no active cases. Spring classes begin on Jan. 19. The Hillsboro ISD dashboard Wednesday showed one case involving a student at Franklin Elementary; two involving students and two involving employees at Hillsboro Elementary; eight involving students and two involving employees at Hillsboro Intermediate; six involving students and two involving employees at Hillsboro Junior High, and nine involving students and three involving employees at Hillsboro High School. The county’s former sheriff, Jeffrey T. Lyon, was battling COVID-19 Wednesday in a Waco hospital.

Lampasas County had 692 confirmed and 89 probable cases of the virus Wednesday, according to state data. At least 617 patients have recovered and 15 have died.

Leon County had 586 confirmed and 204 probable cases of the virus Wednesday, according to state data. At least 669 patients have recovered and 25 have died.

Milam County reported 935 confirmed and 641 probable cases of the virus Wednesday. Of the total, 65 cases were active Wednesday, at least 856 patients have recovered, 17 were hospitalized and 14 have died. State data showed 15 deaths.

Mills County had 262 confirmed and 20 probable cases of the virus Wednesday according to state data, which showed 213 patients have recovered and 12 have died.

Robertson County had 738 confirmed and 215 probable cases of the virus Wednesday according to state data, which showed 797 patients have recovered and 21 have died.

San Saba County had 360 confirmed and 72 probable cases Wednesday, according to state data, which showed at least 797 patients have recovered and 14 have died. The Texas Department of Criminal Justice reported one case involving an inmate and six involving employees Wednesday at the San Saba Transfer Unit where one inmate was medically isolated.

TEXAS PUBLIC SCHOOL COVID-19 DATA

COVID-19 INFORMATION, LINKS AND RESOURCES

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