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As COVID-19 ebbs in Central Texas, officials look to accelerate pace of vaccinations

Published: Feb. 24, 2021 at 3:03 PM CST|Updated: Feb. 24, 2021 at 7:00 PM CST
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(KWTX) - As the spread of COVID-19 slows in Central Texas, area health officials are looking to accelerate the pace of vaccinations.

The total number of confirmed cases of the virus in the region rose by less than 200 to 72,557 Wednesday and state data showed 11 additional deaths, increasing the virus’ toll in Central Texas to at least 1,397.

Meanwhile nearly 80,000, or more than 10% of the residents 16 and older in the 16 Central Texas counties KWTX is tracking have received the first dose of vaccine and more than 36,600 or about 5% have received both doses.

The Bell County Public Health District, which is designated as a state COVID-vaccination hub, will distribute doses of vaccine to three local hospitals in an effort to get more needles in more arms more quickly, officials announced Wednesday.

The health district is due to receive 5,850 doses of the Pfizer vaccine this week, according to the Texas Department of State Health Services.

The health district, which has been administering first doses of the vaccine to eligible residents at the Sammons Community Center at 2220 West Avenue D in Temple and at the Killeen Community Center at 2201 East Veterans Memorial Blvd. in Killeen and second doses at the Bell County Expo Center, is partnering with Scott & White Medical Center in Temple, AdventHealth Central Texas in Killeen and Seton Medical Center Harker Heights to open the additional vaccination sites.

The health district also plans to distribute doses to sites in Lampasas and Mills counties, officials said Wednesday.

The Sammons Community Center is temporarily out of commission as a vaccination site because of damage from last week’s historic freeze, and officials said Wednesday they’re working on creating mobile vaccination sites.

Appointments for vaccinations at Scott & White in Temple can be made through the BSW app or by calling 1-844-279-8222.

Information about vaccinations through AdventHealth Central Texas in Killeen is available online or by calling 1-877-847-8747

Appointments for vaccination through Seton Medical Center Harker Heights may be made online or by calling (254) 680-6202.

The Expo Center site remains open at least until March 12.

A decision is pending on whether the health district will continue to use the site after that.

Data Wednesday from the state vaccination dashboard showed in Bell County, 25,033 residents, or about 9% of those 16 and older, have received the first dose and 12,564 or about 5% of those 16 and older, have received both doses.

In McLennan County, 25,518 residents, or almost 13% of those 16 and older, have received one dose and 11,481, or almost 6% of those 16 and older have received both.

In Bosque County, 12.5% of those 16 and older have received one dose and almost 8% have received both; in Coryell County almost 8% have received one and almost 4% have received both; in Falls County, almost 12.5% have received one and almost 5% have received both; in Freestone County almost 7% have received one and 3% have received both; in Hamilton County, 15% have received one and about 9% have received both; in Hill County, about 10% have received one and almost 6% have received both; in Lampasas County, about 9% have received one, and about 3% have received both; in Milam County about 11% have received one and about 6% have received both; in Mills County, almost 16% have received one and about 7.5% have received both; in Navarro County almost 18% have received one and almost 4% have received both; in Robertson County, about 11% have received one and about 4% have received both, and in San Saba County, about 4.5% have received one and about 1.5% have received both.

The interactive Texas Department of State Health Services vaccine availability map Wednesday, however, showed only the Waco-McLennan County Health District with doses on hand for which appointments are required.

Texas will receive almost 592,000 initial doses of COVID-19 vaccine this week, which will be shipped directly to 563 providers in 230 counties across the state. The state is also ordering 516,830 second doses. Winter weather conditions have delayed the shipment of more than 100,000 initial doses and 300,000 second doses, but they’re due to arrive early this week.

DSHS data showed the Bell County Public Health District, which established vaccination sites at the Bell County Expo Center and in Temple and Killeen, will receive 5,850 doses of the Pfizer vaccine this week; the Coryell Health Medical Clinic in Gatesville will receive 1,170 doses of the Pfizer vaccine; Falls Community Hospital and Clinic in Marlin will receive 1,170 doses of Pfizer vaccine; Ascension Providence Health Center in Waco will receive 2,340 doses of Pfizer vaccine; the Waco-McLennan County Health District will receive 1,500 doses of Moderna vaccine, and the Corsicana-Navarro County Public Health District will receive 1,500 doses of Moderna vaccine.

The Community Clinic at Santa Fe in Temple is due to receive 100 doses of Moderna vaccine; Canyon Creek Behavioral Health in Temple is due to receive 100 doses of Moderna vaccine; DSHS Region 7 Headquarters in Temple is due to receive 400 doses of Moderna vaccine; Goodall Witcher Hospital in Clifton is due to receive 500 doses of Moderna vaccine; Brookshire’s Pharmacy 92 in Clifton is due to receive 100 doses of Moderna vaccine; the Clifton Medical Clinic in Clifton is due to receive 100 doses of Moderna vaccine; the Crain, Hughes and Murray state prison units in Gatesville are each due to receive 100 doses of Moderna vaccine; Gatesville Drug Company in Gatesville is due to receive 100 doses of Moderna vaccine; the Hobby state prison unit in Marlin is due to receive 100 doses of Moderna vaccine; Freestone Medical Center in Fairfield is due to receive 200 doses of Moderna vaccine; Hamilton General Hospital in Hamilton is due to receive 200 doses of Moderna vaccine; Hill Regional Hospital in Hillsboro is due to receive 400 doses of Moderna vaccine; DSHS in Hillsboro is due to receive 200 doses of Moderna vaccine; Advent Health Rollins Brook Hospital in Lampasas is due to receive 200 doses of Moderna vaccine; AdventHelath Family Medicine Rural Health Clinics in Lampasas is due to receive 200 doses of Moderna vaccine; Brookshires Pharmacy 54 in Buffalo is due to receive 100 doses of Moderna vaccine; Brookshires Pharmacy 26 in Jewett is due to receive 100 doses of Moderna vaccine; Limestone Medical Center in Groesbeck is due to receive 100 doses of Moderna vaccine; Family Medicine Center in Groesbeck is due to receive 100 doses of Moderna vaccine; Parkview Regional Hospital in Mexia is due to receive 100 doses of Moderna vaccine; the Milam County Health Department in Cameron is due to receive 300 doses of Moderna vaccine; the Mills County Medical Clinic in Goldthwaite is due to receive 200 doses of Moderna vaccine; Fresenius Medical Care in Corsicana is due to receive 100 doses of Moderna vaccine; Wilson Drug in Hearne is due to receive 100 doses of Moderna vaccine, and Baylor Scott & White Healthcare in San Saba isa due to receive 100 doses of Moderna vaccine.

FEMA sites established at Fair Park in Dallas, NRG Stadium in Houston and AT&T Stadium in Arlington will receive a total of about 84,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine this week.

The interactive Texas Department of State Health Services vaccine availability map Wednesday, however, showed only the Waco-McLennan County Health District with doses on hand for which appointments are required.

VACCINE INFORMATION AND RESOURCES

The Texas Department of State Health Services Wednesday reported more than 5,300 additional confirmed cases of the virus Wednesday, 4,991 of them new, to raise the statewide total to 2,264,763.

Of the total, 185,190 cases were active Wednesday, 2,368,008 patients have recovered, and 6,738 were hospitalized, about 280 fewer than on Tuesday.

In Trauma Service Area L, which includes Bell, Coryell, Hamilton, Lampasas, Milam and Mills counties, at least 93 patients diagnosed with COVID-19 were hospitalized Wednesday, accounting for about 10% all hospitalizations and filling about 8% of available beds.

At least 66 COVID-19 patients were hospitalized Wednesday in Trauma Service Area M, which includes McLennan, Bosque, Falls, Hill and Limestone counties, accounting for about 13% of all hospitalizations and filling about 10% of available beds.

Hospitalization rates in both TSAs have dropped below the level that triggered bar closures, capacity reductions and halted elective surgeries under orders Gov. Greg Abbott issued on Sept. 17 and Oct. 7.

The statewide death toll rose by 339 Wednesday to 41,980.

As many as 1,416 Central Texas residents diagnosed with the virus have died, but according to DSHS data, the regional death toll Wednesday was 1,397 including 337 Bell County residents, 19 fewer than the local count of 356; 29 Bosque County residents; 70 Coryell County residents; 29 Falls County residents; 40 Freestone County residents; 24 Hamilton County residents; 89 Hill County residents; 26 Lampasas County residents; 36 Leon County residents; 61 Limestone County residents; 429 McLennan County residents, 32 more than the local count of 397; 37 Milam County residents; 20 Mills County residents; 116 Navarro County residents; 35 Robertson County residents, and 19 San Saba County residents.

The statewide Lab Test Date positivity rate Wednesday was 13.54%, up from 13.14% Tuesday.

A positivity rate of 5% or less generally indicates the virus is contained, experts say.

BELL COUNTY

The Bell County Public Health District received six more death certificates Wednesday for residents who died of the virus including a Temple woman in her 70s, two Temple men in their 90s, a Harker Heights woman in her 40s, a Temple woman who was 99 or older, and a Bell County man in his 80s, raising the virus’ toll in the county to 356.

The health district Wednesday subtracted one death reported earlier from its total because the patient was outside of its jurisdiction.

The total number of confirmed cases in the county rose by 77 to 20,294 on Wednesday.

Of the total, 399 cases were active and 19,895 patients have recovered.

State data showed 337 deaths and a total of 20,323 cases.

The county’s incidence rate Wednesday was 109.9 per 100,000.

“This gives me optimism and once we know that we aren’t expecting a backlog from the week of our weather issues we can assess the threat level,” health district director Dr. Amanda Robison-Chadwell said Wednesday.

The University of Mary Hardin-Baylor dashboard Wednesday showed 10 active cases and a total of 315 since Aug. 1, 2020.

Texas A&M University-Central Texas Wednesday showed three active cases and a total of 36 since March 2020, 27 of them involving students.

The Killeen ISD’s online dashboard Wednesday showed seven cases involving staff members in the past seven days and 1,547 confirmed cases since March 16, 2020, 748 involving students and 794 involving staff.

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 no active cases.

The Belton ISD’s online dashboard Wednesday showed 10 cases across eight campuses.

VACCINE INFORMATION AND RESOURCES

BELL COUNTY COVID-19 DEATHS

TEXAS PUBLIC SCHOOL COVID-19 DATA

MCLENNAN COUNTY

The Waco-McLennan County Health District reported two more deaths from the virus Wednesday, a 57-year-old man and a man whose age was unknown, raising the county’s death toll to 397, according to local data.

State data showed 429 deaths, an increase of two.

The health district reported 70 additional cases of the virus Wednesday, raising the county’s total to 24,896.

Of the total, 329 cases were active Wednesday, 24,170 patients have recovered, and 65 were hospitalized, 11 of them on ventilators.

Fifty of the 65 are McLennan County residents.

Waco and McLennan County officials discontinued their weekly news conference on the virus Wednesday and said they’re shifting to a monthly format as the spread of the virus slows.

“As viral transmission declines and vaccination efforts targeting the most susceptible advance, transitioning to a monthly schedule seems prudent, with thresholds in place for returning to weekly conferences,” Waco Family Health Center CEO Dr. Jackson Griggs said.

“Moreover, if new or urgent issues arise between scheduled press conferences, we can reconvene to bring timely, helpful information to the public. This change in schedule should in no way imply that masking, social distancing, widespread testing and equitable distribution of vaccines is less important or that less energy should be invested in dissemination of accurate health information.”

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 Foodbank will distribute free food from 10 a.m. to noon on Thursday at Waco ISD Stadium at 1401 South New Road in Waco.

Baylor University’s online dashboard showed another uptick in active cases from 98 on Tuesday to 152 on Wednesday, 150 involving students, one involving a staff member and one involving a faculty member. Since Aug. 1, 2020, a total of 3,066 cases have been confirmed. In the past seven days, 152 tests have come back positive. Baylor is requiring weekly COVID-19 testing of students, faculty and staff.

The McLennan Community College dashboard Wednesday showed 340 cumulative cases in the last three weeks, 261 of them involving students and three active cases, two involving students. The college is offering classes in blended-hybrid and online formats during the spring semester.

The Waco ISD dashboard Wednesday showed two active cases on separate campuses and 260 total cases involving students since Sept. 8, 2020, 279 involving staff and 14 involving those described as “other.”

The Midway ISD’s online dashboard Wednesday showed 11 cases across six campuses and three at non-campus facilities.

The Lorena ISD dashboard Wednesday showed one case involving an employee at Lorena Middle School.

The Mart ISD’s online dashboard Wednesday showed six cases at Mart Elementary School.

The McGregor ISD’s online dashboard hasn’t been updated since before the storm.

VACCINE INFORMATION AND RESOURCES

MCLENNAN COUNTY COVID-19 DEATHS

TEXAS PUBLIC SCHOOL COVID-19 DATA

CORYELL COUNTY

Coryell County had a total of 6,512 confirmed and 237 probable cases of the virus Wednesday, according to DSHS data.

Of the total, 6,194 patients have recovered, and 70 have died.

The Copperas Cove ISD’s online dashboard Wednesday showed six active cases across three campuses.

The Gatesville ISD’s online dashboard Wednesday showed two cases as Gatesville Junior High, one involving a student, one involving a student at Gatesville Intermediate, and one involving a student at Gatesville Elementary.

The Texas Department of Criminal Justice Wednesday reported one case involving an inmate and 13 involving employees at the Christina Melton Crain Unit where one inmate was isolated; one case involving an inmate and 14 involving employees at the Hilltop Unit where one inmate was isolated; one case involving an inmate and 26 involving employees at the Alfred D. Hughes Unit in Gatesville where one inmate was medically isolated; two cases involving employees at the Mountain View Unit; five cases involving inmates and seven involving employees at the Dr. Lane Murray Unit where 92 inmates were restricted and five were isolated, and three cases involving inmates and four involving employees at the Linda Woodman State Jail where 87 inmates were 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 had 1,826 confirmed and 237 probable cases Wednesday.

State data showed 1,837 patients have recovered.

The virus has claimed the lives of 29 residents, state data showed.

The Texas Department of Criminal Justice Wednesday reported seven cases involving inmates and eight involving employees at the William Hobby Unit in Marlin where 147 inmates were restricted and seven were isolated, and two cases involving inmates and two involving employees at the Marlin Transfer Unit where 25 inmates were restricted and two were isolated.

LIMESTONE COUNTY

Limestone County had 2,041 confirmed and 561 probable cases Wednesday.

At least 2,252 patients have recovered and 61 have died, according to state data.

TEXAS PUBLIC SCHOOL COVID-19 DATA

NAVARRO COUNTY

Navarro County had 3,345 confirmed and 2,130 probable cases of the virus Wednesday.

Of the total, 5,285 patients have recovered.

State data showed 116 deaths.

TEXAS PUBLIC SCHOOL COVID-19 DATA

OTHER COUNTIES

Bosque County had 1,292 confirmed and 28 probable cases of the virus Wednesday. Of the total, 1,410 patients have recovered and 29 have died, according to state data.

Freestone County had 1,028 confirmed and 700 probable cases of the virus Wednesday. At least 1,634 patients have recovered and 40 have died, according to state data. The Texas Department of Criminal Justice Wednesday reported one case involving an inmate and eight involving employees at the William Boyd Unit in Teague where one inmate was isolated.

Hamilton County had 686 confirmed and 50 probable cases of the virus Wednesday. At least 671 patients have recovered and 24 have died, according to state data.

Hill County had 3,639 confirmed cases and 650 probable cases Wednesday. At least 3,753 patients have recovered and 89 have died, according to state data. The Hill College dashboard showed no active cases Wednesday on the Hill County campus. The Hillsboro ISD dashboard showed four cases, two involving students at Hillsboro Intermediate and two involving staff at Hillsboro High School.

Lampasas County had 1,719 confirmed and 319 probable cases Wednesday. At least 1,730 patients have recovered and 26 residents have died, according to state data.

Leon County had 1,200 confirmed and 324 probable cases Wednesday. At least 1,335 patients have recovered and 36 residents have died, according to state data.

Milam County had 1,320 confirmed and 991 probable cases Wednesday. At least 2,295 patients have recovered and 37 have died, according to state data.

Mills County had 570 confirmed and 56 probable cases of the virus Wednesday. At least 539 patients have recovered and 20 have died, according to state data.

Robertson County had 1,597 confirmed cases Wednesday and 401 probable cases. At least 1,748 patients have recovered and 35 have died, according to state data.

San Saba County had 563 confirmed cases Wednesday and 244 probable cases. At least 746 patients have recovered and 19 have died, according to state data. The Texas Department of Criminal Justice Wednesday reported 32 cases involving inmates and six involving employees at the San Saba Transfer Unit where 32 inmates were isolated.

VACCINE INFORMATION AND RESOURCES

TEXAS PUBLIC SCHOOL COVID-19 DATA

COVID-19 INFORMATION, LINKS AND RESOURCES

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