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Central Texas COVID-19 death toll rises to more than 1,000

COVID-19 has claimed the lives of more than 1,000 Central Texas residents since the start of...
COVID-19 has claimed the lives of more than 1,000 Central Texas residents since the start of the pandemic in March. (File)(CNN)
Published: Jan. 21, 2021 at 6:36 PM CST
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(KWTX) - COVID-19 has claimed the lives of more than 1,000 Central Texas residents since the start of the pandemic in March.

Twenty one additional deaths were reported in the region Thursday.

The virus may have claimed as many as 1,014 lives in Central Texas, but according to Texas Department of State Health Services data Thursday, at least 1,009 Central Texas residents diagnosed with the virus have died, including 223 Bell County residents, 23 more than the local count of 200; 21 Bosque County residents; 45 Coryell County residents, 21 more than the local count of 24; 23 Falls County residents; 30 Freestone County residents; 22 Hamilton County residents; 52 Hill County residents; 18 Lampasas County residents; 28 Leon County residents; 37 Limestone County residents; 356 McLennan County residents, 16 more than the local count of 340; 20 Milam County residents; 16 Mills County residents; 76 Navarro County residents, five fewer than the local count of 81; 26 Robertson County residents, and 16 San Saba County residents.

The statewide death toll rose by 441 to 33,285 on Thursday.

The Texas Department of State Health Services reported an additional 18,964 confirmed cases of the virus Thursday, 18,370 of them new, increasing the statewide total to 1,917,513.

Of the total, 376,769 cases were active Thursday and at least 1,763,247 patients have recovered.

The Central Texas case count increased by 438 to 57,740 Thursday.

At least 13,564 patients were in Texas hospitals Thursday, slightly fewer than the 13,870 hospitalized on Wednesday.

In Trauma Service Area L, which includes Bell, Coryell, Hamilton, Lampasas, Milam and Mills counties, at least 207 COVID-19 patients were hospitalized Thursday, accounting for about 22% all hospitalizations and filling about 19% of available beds.

At least 151 COVID-19 patients were hospitalized Thursday in Trauma Service Area M, which includes McLennan, Bosque, Falls, Hill and Limestone counties, accounting for about 30% of all hospitalizations and occupying about 22% of available beds, above the 15% ceiling that triggers capacity reductions under orders Gov. Greg Abbott issued on Sept. 17 and Oct. 7.

About 16.2 million molecular tests have been administered statewide.

The Lab Test Date positivity Thursday was 16.51%, down slightly from 16.61% Wednesday.

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

VACCINATIONS

About 3.3 million doses of vaccine have been allocated to the state and about 2.5 million have been shipped, but an interactive Texas Department of State Health Services vaccine availability map Thursday showed the majority of sites to which doses have been delivered have none available.

The problem is not unique to Texas.

President Joe Biden Thursday ordered the federal Emergency Management Agency to begin setting up vaccination centers and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to start a program to make vaccines available beginning next month through local pharmacies.

The administration’s ambitious goal is 100 million injections during the first 100 days of Mr. Biden’s presidency.

Texas officials have established 77 vaccination hubs around the state.

Five of the vaccine hub providers are in Central Texas including the Bell County Public Health District, the Coryell Health Medical Clinic in Gatesville, Falls Community Hospital and Clinic in Marlin; Ascension Providence Health Center in Waco; the Waco-McLennan County Health District.

Now eligible for vaccination are those covered by Phase 1A of the state’s vaccination distribution plan, including frontline healthcare workers and residents and employees of long-term care facilities and those covered by Phase 1B of the plan including residents 65 and older and residents 16 and older with medical conditions that put them at risk of severe COVID-19 illness.

The Waco-McLennan County Health District has replaced its online vaccination registration system with an online waiting list that residents can access anytime.

The health district, which received another 1,500 doses of the Moderna vaccine this week, opened registration windows on Sunday and Monday for appointments for free vaccinations from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday at the Waco Convention Center for residents eligible under Phases 1A and 1B of the state’s vaccination plan and the time slots were filled in a matter of minutes.

The City of Waco has activated its Public Information Hotline to allow residents who don’t have access to email or the internet to get the latest updates on testing sites, vaccine availability and other information related to the COVID-19 pandemic. The number is (254) 750-5606.

The Waco Family Health Center received 800 doses of vaccine this week, which officials hope to administer by the end of the week to high-risk patients.

Administration of second doses of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine in Bell County is expected to begin on Feb. 3 at a drive-thru site at the Bell County Expo Center, which will be open from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday to Thursday, health officials announced Thursday.

Residents who received the first dose of the vaccine at one of the county’s two vaccination centers will be notified this week to make appointments for the second dose.

The Bell County Health District received a second shipment of 3,900 doses of the Pfizer vaccine on Tuesday, a day later than expected, which forced officials to reschedule Monday and Tuesday appointments.

On Wednesday the health district announced its vaccination centers at the Killeen Community Center at 2201 East Veterans Memorial Blvd. and at 220 West Avenue D in Temple will be open on Tuesdays through Saturdays and closed on Mondays and Sundays.

“The goal of these changes is to create a schedule that will not be disrupted by potential delays with the shipping of our allocated vaccine doses,” health district Director Dr. Amanda Robison-Chadwell said.

“By closing on Sunday and Monday, we should be able to reserve enough doses that we can continue to operate, even if we do not receive that week’s delivery,” she said.

Residents with appointments scheduled on or after this Sunday are being notified by email.

Those with Sunday appointments will be rescheduled for vaccinations on a date two to four days later.

“I can certainly understand the frustration that this may cause some of our patients,” Chadwell said, “but we believe that this is a necessary adjustment to help us better serve the people of Bell County and Texas moving forward.”

Anyone unable to make an appointment online may call the Bell County COVID-19 vaccination hotline from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday at (254)-933-5203.

Coryell Health received 600 doses on Dec. 23, but didn’t receive any vaccine last week, is expecting a shipment of Pfizer vaccines this week, and has scheduled an appointment-only vaccination clinic Saturday at the Gatesville Civic Center for which all appointments have been filled.

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.

The Texas Department of State Health Services vaccination dashboard Thursday showed that in Bell County, with 265,191 residents who are 16 and older, 12,576 residents have received a first dose and 2,407 have received both, while in McLennan County, with 198,642 residents 16 and older, 10,415 residents have received a first dose and 1,142 have received both.

The dashboard Thursday showed the administration of 689 initial and 25 secondary vaccinations in Bosque County; 1,366 initial and 118 secondary vaccinations in Coryell County; 369 initial and 28 secondary vaccinations in Falls County; 476 initial and four secondary vaccinations in Freestone County; 1,558 initial and 66 secondary vaccinations in Hamilton County; 1,320 initial vaccinations and 51 secondary vaccinations in Hill County; 432 initial and 54 secondary vaccinations in Lampasas County; 416 initial and nine secondary vaccinations in Leon County; 749 initial and 12 secondary vaccinations in Limestone County; 1,159 initial and 41 secondary vaccinations in Milam County; 255 initial and 12 secondary vaccinations in Mills County; 1,276 initial and 44 secondary vaccinations in Navarro County; 466 initial and 20 secondary vaccinations in Robertson County, and 78 initial and six secondary vaccinations in San Saba County.

VACCINE INFORMATION AND RESOURCES

BELL COUNTY

The Bell County Public Health District reported two more deaths from the virus Thursday, a Bell County man in his 50s and a Killeen woman in her 80s, increasing the county’s death toll to 200, according to local data.

The health district also reported 206 additional cases of the virus Thursday, increasing the county’s total to 17,248.

Of the total, 2,360 cases were active Thursday and at least 14,888 patients have recovered.

State data, which includes Fort Hood personnel who live on post, showed a total of 17,148 confirmed cases and 223 deaths, an increase of three.

In state Trauma Service Area L, which includes Bell County, at least 207 COVID-19 patients were hospitalized Thursday accounting for about 22% all hospitalizations and filling about 19% of available beds, sufficiently high to trigger capacity reductions under orders Gov. Greg Abbott issued on Sept. 17 and Oct. 7.

The City of Killeen opened an online application system at 9 a.m. on Wednesday for residents seeking assistance with rent or mortgages. Funding, which comes from the federal CARES Act, is limited.

Temple’s city hall, public library, historic post office, Parks and Recreation administration building, Public Works Service Center, Human Resources Department, and Utility Business Office and Municipal Court will remain closed to walk-in traffic through Feb. 28 because of COVID-19 infection rates, City Manage Brynn Myers said Friday. Services at the facilities remain available online, by phone, by appointment, at curbside or by drive-thru, she said. City employees who are able to work remotely will continue to do so, the city said. Essential employees will adhere to safety guidelines including social distancing, regular hand washing and the use of face coverings.

Temple Fire & Rescue will host drive-thru COVID-19 testing from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Friday at Fire Station No. 7 at 8420 West Adams Ave.; and from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Jan. 28 and Jan. 29 at Fire Station No. 1 at 210 North 3rd St. Tests are free. Residents may register online or on site. More information is available online.

A temporary drive-thru COVID-19 testing site will be open from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Saturday 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 University of Mary Hardin-Baylor dashboard Thursday showed a cumulative total of 208 cases since Aug. 1 and 18 current active cases.

Texas A&M University-Central Texas Thursday reported two active cases involving students and 26 positive tests for the virus since March, 20 involving students. All students must complete online training on safe practices before returning for the spring semester, which starts this week.

The Killeen ISD’s online dashboard Thursday showed more than 1,200 cases since March 16, 551 involving students and 668 involving staff, and 35 involving students and 43 involving staff in the past seven days. The dashboard showed one active case Thursday involving a student at Alice Douse Elementary; one involving an employee at Cedar Valley Elementary; one involving a student at Clear Creek Elementary; one involving an employee at Fowler Elementary; one involving a student at Hay Branch Elementary; two involving students and one involving an employee at Haynes Elementary; three involving students and three involving employees at Iduma Elementary; one involving an employee at Montague Village Elementary; one involving a student and one involving an employee at Mountain View Elementary; one involving an employee at Oveta Culp Hobby Elementary; one involving a student at Peebles Elementary; three involving students and one involving an employee at Pershing Park Elementary; one involving a student at Reeces Creek Elementary; two involving employees at Richard E. Cavazos Elementary; one involving a student at Saegert Elementary; one involving a student at Skipcha Elementary; one involving a student at Trimmier Elementary; one involving an employee at West Ward Elementary; two involving employees at Willow Springs Elementary; one involving a student at Audie Murphy Middle School; five involving students and three involving employees at Charles Paterson Middle School; one involving an employee at Liberty Hill Middle School; one involving an employee at Live Oak Ridge Middle School; one involving a student and two involving employees at Nolan Middle School; one involving an employee at Palo Alto Middle School; one involving a student at Rancier Middle School; two involving students at Smith Middle School; one involving a student at Early College High School; one involving a student and one involving an employee at Ellison High School; two involving students and two involving employees at Harker Heights High School; two involving students and three involving employees at Killeen High School; one involving a student and one involving an employee at Shoemaker High School, and 12 involving employees at non-campus facilities, seven in Learning Support Services, three in technology and two in transportation.

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 Thursday showed four cases at Temple High School, one at Bonham Middle School, one at Raye-Allen Elementary, and one at Edwards Elementary School and one in the district’s transportation department.

The Belton ISD’s online dashboard Thursday showed one case at Belton Early Childhood School; two cases at Charter Oak Elementary; two at Chisholm Trail Elementary; 12 at Lakewood Elementary; two at Leon Heights Elementary; four at Miller Heights Elementary; one at Southwest Elementary; four at Belton Middle School; one at Lake Belton Middle School; four at North Belton Middle School; five at South Belton Middle School; seven at Belton High School; three at Belton New Tech High School; eight at Lake Belton High School, and three at non-campus facilities.

VACCINE INFORMATION AND RESOURCES

BELL COUNTY COVID-19 DEATHS

TEXAS PUBLIC SCHOOL COVID-19 DATA

MCLENNAN COUNTY

The Waco-McLennan County Health District reported five more deaths from the virus Thursday, an 85-year-old man, an 84-year-old man and an 80-year-old man, increasing the virus toll in the county to 340, according to local data.

State data, based on death certificates and county of residence, showed 356 deaths, an increase of eight.

The health district also reported 133 additional cases of the virus Thursday, 81 confirmed and 52 probable, raising the county’s total to 22,506.

Of the total, 1,075 cases were active Thursday, at least 21,091 patients have recovered and 130 were hospitalized, 22 of them on ventilators.

Of the 130, 99 are McLennan County residents.

At least 151 COVID-19 patients were hospitalized Thursday in the Trauma Service Area that includes McLennan County, accounting for about 30% of all hospitalizations and occupying about 22% of available beds, which is above the 15% ceiling that triggers capacity reductions under orders Gov. Greg Abbott issued on Sept. 17 and Oct. 7.

The new cases involve eight residents who range in age from 1 to 10; 12 who range in age from 11 to 17; 21 who range in age from 18 to 25; 10 who range in age from 26 to 29; 28 residents in their 30s; 18 in their 40s; 15 in their 50s; 16 in their 60s; three in their 70s, and two who are 80 or older.

The health district has replaced its online vaccination registration system, which left some residents frustrated, with an online waiting list that’s always accessible, officials announced Wednesday.

The City of Waco has activated its Public Information Hotline to allow residents who don’t have access to email or the internet to get the latest updates on testing sites, vaccine availability and other information related to the COVID-19 pandemic. The number is (254) 750-5606.

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 Thursday showed 218 active cases including 192 involving students, 16 involving staff, four involving faculty and six involving contractors. In the past seven days 103 positive tests have been administered. A total of 2,304 cases have been confirmed since Aug. 1. Spring classes started Tuesday. Baylor, which is requiring weekly COVID-19 testing of students, faculty and staff announced Thursday it has opened a multi-million dollar lab at the 330,000-square foot Baylor Research and Innovation Collaborative facility in partnership with My Labs Direct (MLD) to process the molecular PCR tests. The lab can process as many as 8,000 tests daily and in most cases can deliver results within 24 hours, the school said.

The McLennan Community College dashboard showed 15 active cases Thursday, 10 involving students, and 286 total cases in the past three weeks, 223 involving students. The college is offering classes in blended-hybrid and online formats during the spring semester.

The Waco ISD dashboard Thursday showed cumulative totals of 224 students, 249 employees, and 10 classified as “other” have been diagnosed with the virus since Sept. 8. The dashboard showed one active case at Alta Vista Elementary; one at Hillcrest PDS; two at Mountainview Elementary; one at Parkdale Elementary; two at Provident Heights Elementary; one at West Avenue Elementary; two at Cesar Chavez Middle School; two at Indian Spring Middle School; two at University High School; five Waco High School, and two at non-campus facilities. Indian Spring Middle School is shifting to fully remote instruction starting Thursday through Jan. 29. In-person instruction will resume on Feb. 1. Twenty nine employees were expected to be out Thursday.

The Midway ISD’s online dashboard Thursday showed one case involving a student at Castleman Creek Elementary; one involving an employee at Hewitt Elementary; five involving students and three involving employees at South Bosque Elementary; one involving a student at Speegleville Elementary; two involving students at Woodway Elementary; nine involving students and four involving employees at River Valley Intermediate; four involving students at Woodgate Intermediate; three involving students and two involving employees at Midway Middle School; 15 involving students and three involving employees at Midway High School, and two involving employees at non-campus facilities.

The Lorena ISD dashboard Thursday showed two cases involving students at Lorena Primary; one involving a student at Lorena Elementary; one involving a student at Lorena Middle School, one involving a student at Lorena High School, and one involving an employee at a non-campus facility.

The Mart ISD’s online dashboard showed no active cases Thursday.

The McGregor ISD’s online dashboard Thursday showed five cases at McGregor Elementary, three at Isbill Junior High and two at McGregor High School.

VACCINE INFORMATION AND RESOURCES

MCLENNAN COUNTY COVID-19 DEATHS

TEXAS PUBLIC SCHOOL COVID-19 DATA

CORYELL COUNTY

Coryell County reported 2,564 confirmed cases of the virus Thursday.

Of the total, 483 cases were active, 2,057 patients have recovered and 24 have died.

State data, which includes inmates in state prison units, was revised downward from Wednesday’s total of 4,236 confirmed cases to 4,185.

Stata data showed 127 probable cases.

Of the total, 3,612 patients have recovered and 45 have died, state data showed.

In state Trauma Service Area L, which includes Coryell County, at least 207 COVID-19 patients were hospitalized Thursday, accounting for about 22% all hospitalizations and filling almost 19% of available beds.

The Texas Department of State Health Services has advised the county that the TSA’s hospitalization rate is sufficiently high to trigger capacity reductions, bar closings and suspension of elective surgery under orders Gov. Greg Abbott issued on Sept. 17 and Oct. 7.

Coryell Health continues to offer elective surgeries despite the restrictions because the hospital has “available beds and adequate supplies,” which allows for an exemption under the governor’s orders.

The Copperas Cove ISD’s online dashboard Thursday showed 10 cases involving students and two involving employees at Cove High School; four involving students and one involving an employee at Cove Junior High; two involving students and two involving employees at S. C. Lee Junior High; one involving a student and one involving an employee at Clements Parsons Elementary; one involving a student at Fairview Jewell Elementary; one involving an employee at Hettie Halstead Elementary; three involving students at Martin Walker Elementary; one involving a student and three involving employees at Williams/Ledger Elementary; three involving employees at Mae Stevens Early Learning Academy, and one involving an employee at a non-campus facility.

The Gatesville ISD’s online dashboard Thursday showed nine cases at Gatesville High School, eight involving students; two at Gatesville Junior High, one involving a student; six cases at Gatesville Intermediate, three involving students; seven at Gatesville Elementary, six involving students, and two involving transportation employees.

The Texas Department of Criminal Justice Thursday reported 17 cases involving employees at the Christina Melton Crain Unit where 35 inmates were on medical restriction; 40 cases involving inmates and 19 involving employees at the Hilltop Unit where 339 inmates were restricted and 40 were isolated; 134 cases involving inmates and 53 involving employees at the Alfred D. Hughes Unit in Gatesville where 1,441 inmates were medically restricted and 139 were medically isolated; 17 cases involving employees at the Mountain View Unit in Gatesville where 95 inmates were restricted; one case involving an inmate and 16 involving employees at the Dr. Lane Murray Unit where 150 inmates were restricted and one was isolated, and one case involving an inmate and 10 involving employees at the Linda Woodman State Jail where three inmates 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 1,288 confirmed cases of the virus Thursday, an increase of 31, and 65 probable cases.

Of the total, 1,178 patients have recovered and 23 residents have died, according to state data.

The Texas Department of Criminal Justice Thursday reported 36 case involving inmates and 15 involving employees at the William Hobby Unit in Marlin where 999 inmates were restricted and 36 were isolated, and five cases involving inmates and five involving employees at the Marlin Transfer Unit where 56 inmates were restricted and five were isolated.

LIMESTONE COUNTY

Limestone County had 1,185 confirmed and 251 probable cases of the virus Thursday.

Of the total, 1,278 patients have recovered.

State data showed two more residents diagnosed with the virus have died, increasing the county’s death toll to 37.

TEXAS PUBLIC SCHOOL COVID-19 DATA

NAVARRO COUNTY

Navarro County had 3,144 confirmed cases Thursday, an increase of 65, and 1,893 probable cases for a total of 5,037, according to local data, which showed 81 deaths.

State data showed 4,135 recoveries and 76 deaths.

TEXAS PUBLIC SCHOOL COVID-19 DATA

OTHER COUNTIES

Bosque County had 826 confirmed and 190 probable cases of the virus Thursday, according to state data. At least 814 patients have recovered and a 21st resident has died, according to state data.

Freestone County had 683 confirmed and 320 probable cases of the virus Thursday, according to state data. Of the total, 915 patients have recovered and 30 have died. The Texas Department of Criminal Justice Thursday reported four cases involving inmates and five involving employees at the William Boyd Unit in Teague where 373 inmates were medically restricted and four were isolated.

Hamilton County had 543 confirmed cases Thursday, an increase of 30, and 39 probable cases, according to state data. At least 470 patients have recovered and 22 have died.

Hill County had 2,001 confirmed and 431 probable cases of the virus Thursday, according to state data. At least 2,219 patients have recovered and four more have died, raising the county’s death toll to 52, according to state data. The Hill College dashboard showed one case involving an employee Thursday on the Hill County campus. The Hillsboro ISD dashboard Thursday showed one case involving an employee at Hillsboro Intermediate and four involving employees at Hillsboro High School.

Lampasas County had 838 confirmed and 103 probable cases of the virus Thursday, according to state data. At least 756 patients have recovered and 18 residents have died.

Leon County had 658 confirmed and 226 probable cases of the virus Thursday, according to state data. At least 762 patients have recovered and 28 residents have died.

Milam County reported 1,102 confirmed cases and 771 probable cases Thursday. Thirteen patients were hospitalized, 22 cases were active, 1,804 patients have recovered and 20 have died, according to local data.

Mills County had 348 confirmed and 25 probable cases of the virus Thursday according to state data, which showed 269 patients have recovered and 16 residents have died.

Robertson County had 809 confirmed and 265 probable cases of the virus Thursday according to state data, which showed 930 patients have recovered and 26 residents have died.

San Saba County had 376 confirmed and 114 probable cases Thursday, according to state data, which showed at least 415 patients have recovered and 16 residents have died. The Texas Department of Criminal Justice Thursday reported five cases involving inmates and two involving employees at the San Saba Transfer Unit where 41 inmates were restricted and 12 were medically isolated.

VACCINE INFORMATION AND RESOURCES

TEXAS PUBLIC SCHOOL COVID-19 DATA

COVID-19 INFORMATION, LINKS AND RESOURCES

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