Bell County, Texas declares state of emergency, shuts down vaccine centers for remainder of week

Published: Feb. 15, 2021 at 4:10 PM CST
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BELTON, Texas (KWTX) - Bell County Judge David Blackburn on Monday declared a state of emergency in the county, announced the closure of non-essential county offices, and cancelled the operations of all three of the county’s COVID-19 vaccination centers for the remainder of the week.

“Given the current and forecasted weather conditions, the rotating brown outs that ERCOT has announced, and continuing poor road conditions, I am authorizing the closure of non-essential county offices for Tuesday,” Judge Blackburn said.

“We’ll assess conditions tomorrow for what we might need to do for Wednesday.”

Blackburn also cancelled this week’s commissioners court meeting.

“Even though we are posted to conduct the meeting either in person or virtually, our internet provider has advised us that internet coverage over the next 24 to 48 hours is not going to be reliable,” Judge Blackburn said.

“That being the case, it wouldn’t be prudent to try and conduct the meeting virtually.”

The crippling winter storm also contributed to the closure of the county’s three vaccination centers.

“Not only were we concerned about the safety of those traveling to or entering those locations,” Blackburn said, “but we are also not at all confident of when we will receive this week’s shipment of Pfizer vaccine doses.”

“In fact, we still haven’t received this week’s shipment,” Judge Blackburn said, “and it was due today.” There is currently no reliable timeframe for when that shipment might arrive.

“Given the uncertainty of the arrival of our vaccine shipment, we thought it best to close the centers and reschedule appointments,” Judge Blackburn said.

For everyone with scheduled to receive their first doses from either the Sammons Community Center in Temple or the Killeen Community Center, their booking will automatically be shift one week.

For example, a person who was scheduled to receive their first dose on Thursday, February 18, at 10:00 from the Sammons Community Center, will now be scheduled for 10:00 a.m. on Thursday February 25 at the same time.

County officials have a plan for shifting second dose appointments scheduled at the Bell County Expo, which they hope to announce soon.

Killeen Mayor Jose Segarra also issued a local disaster declaration for a winter weather emergency. City of Killeen municipal offices will be closed Tuesday, February 16, due to inclement weather.

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