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COVID-19 Delta variant identified in at least one Central Texas County adding urgency to vaccination push

The Delta variant of COVID-19, which poses a serious threat to people who aren’t fully...
The Delta variant of COVID-19, which poses a serious threat to people who aren’t fully vaccinated against the virus, has been identified in at least one Central Texas county, adding urgency to the vaccination push. (File)(Natasha Lynn)
Published: Jul. 7, 2021 at 5:57 PM CDT
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WACO, Texas (KWTX) -(KWTX) - The Delta variant of COVID-19, which poses a serious threat to people who aren’t fully vaccinated against the virus, has been identified in Bell County, adding urgency to the vaccination push.

The Delta variant is significantly more contagious that previous strains of the virus, seems to be impacting younger age groups more than the pervious variants, and could lead to hyperlocal outbreaks in areas where vaccination rates are low.

Bell County health officials Wednesday acknowledged an uptick in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations.

State data, which includes Fort Hood personnel who live on post, showed 655 active cases Wednesday, and Bell County Health District data showed 154 active cases last week.

“The increase in cases is concerning, especially since some of the cases have been identified as the Delta variant, which is much more contagious and more likely to result in hospitalization and death in the unvaccinated population,” Dr. Janice Smith, the county’s Local Health Authority, said.

Most of the newly confirmed cases involve residents between the ages of 20 and 40, whose vaccination rates are comparatively lower than those of older residents.

“What I am hearing from our health care providers is that the vast majority of the positive tests belong to individuals who have not been vaccinated,” Bell County Judge David Blackburn said.

“It is clear that increasing vaccinations is still our best strategy to navigate thru this pandemic and get to closure.”

The health district plans to increase messaging in the community to emphasize the importance of vaccination including a media campaign targeted at areas where recent spikes have occurred.

Bell County has one of the lowest vaccination rates in Central Texas.

Almost 37% of residents 12 and older have received one dose while almost 32% are fully vaccinated.

Statewide, more than 58% of residents 12 and older have received one dose and 50% are fully vaccinated, and in the 16 Central Texas counties KWTX is monitoring, 40% of residents 12 and older have received one dose and more than 34% are fully vaccinated.

In neighboring McLennan County, 46% of residents 12 and older have received one dose and almost 40% are fully vaccinated.

In Bosque County, almost 32% of residents 12 and older are fully vaccinated; in Coryell County, almost 30% of residents 12 and older are fully vaccinated; in Falls County, more than 34% of residents 12 and older are fully vaccinated; in Freestone County, more than 29% of residents 12 and older are fully vaccinated; in Hamilton County, more than 40% of residents 12 and older are fully vaccinated; in Hill County, almost 34% of residents 12 and older are fully vaccinated; in Lampasas County, more than 34% of residents 12 and older are fully vaccinated; in Leon County, more than 32% of residents 12 and older are fully vaccinated; in Limestone County, more than 30% of residents 12 and older are fully vaccinated; in Milam County, almost 37% of residents 12 and older are fully vaccinated; in Mills County, almost 35% of residents 12 and older are fully vaccinated;. In Navarro County, almost 38% of residents 12 and older are fully vaccinated; in Robertson County, more than 36% of residents 12 and older are fully vaccinated, and in San Saba County, more than 28% of residents 12 and older are fully vaccinated.

A Texas National Guard COVID-19 mobile vaccination team will administer the Pfizer vaccine for free to residents 12 and older from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on July 10 in the parking lot of the First Baptist Church in Troy.

Appointments aren’t necessary, but residents are asked to RSVP online or by calling (254) 938-2582 to ensure enough vaccine is available.

Second doses will be administered from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on July 31 at the church.

VACCINE INFORMATION AND RESOURCES

COVID-19 INFORMATION, LINKS AND RESOURCES

DEATHS, NEW CASES

The total number of COVID-19 cases confirmed since the start of the pandemic in the 16 Central Texas counties KWTX is monitoring is approaching 80,000.

The total stood at 79,965 Wednesday.

At least 973 cases of the virus were active Wednesday in Central Texas.

The regional death toll may be as high as 1,722, but according to state data Wednesday, the count stands at 1,717 including 448 Bell County residents; 37 Bosque County residents; 88 Coryell County residents; 33 Falls County residents; 50 Freestone County residents; 27 Hamilton County residents; 111 Hill County residents; 33 Lampasas County residents; 43 Leon County residents; 80 Limestone County residents; 482 McLennan County residents, 19 more than the local count of 463; 49 Milam County residents; 21 Mills County residents; 145 Navarro County residents, five fewer than the local count of 150; 47 Robertson County residents, and 23 San Saba County residents.

The Department of State Health Services reported 1,282 newly confirmed cases of the virus Wednesday, increasing the statewide total to 2,552,598.

At least 22,789 cases were active statewide Wednesday, 2,887,520 residents diagnosed with the virus have recovered, and at least 1,721 were hospitalized, down from 1,746 on Tuesday.

In Trauma Service Area L, which includes Bell, Coryell, Hamilton, Lampasas, Milam, and Mills counties, at least 37 patients diagnosed with the virus were hospitalized Wednesday.

In Trauma Service Area M, which includes Bosque, Falls, Hill, Limestone and McLennan counties, at least 25 were hospitalized.

The Molecular Test Positivity Rate 5.9% on Wednesday, up from 5.53% on Tuesday.

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

VACCINE INFORMATION AND RESOURCES

COVID-19 INFORMATION, LINKS AND RESOURCES

BELL COUNTY

The Bell County Health District paused updates of its local dashboard in May but says the updates will resume if the county’s incidence rate rises to more than 80 cases per 100,000 residents.

State data Wednesday showed 22,746 total confirmed cases and 2,389 total probable cases.

At least 24,032 residents diagnosed with the virus have recovered.

At least 655 cases were active Wednesday according to DSHS data.

State data includes Fort Hood personnel who live on post.

Local data showed at least 154 active cases.

The virus has claimed 448 lives in the county.

The Central Texas Food Bank will distribute food from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. on July 24 at Temple College at 2600 South 1st St.

VACCINE INFORMATION AND RESOURCES

BELL COUNTY COVID-19 DEATHS

TEXAS PUBLIC SCHOOL COVID-19 DATA

MCLENNAN COUNTY

The Waco-McLennan County Health District has discontinued daily case reporting effective and is instead reporting COVID-19 cases on a weekly basis.

The health district’s latest update showed 27,865 total cases.

Ninety-five cases were active Wednesday, at least 27,307 residents diagnosed with the virus have recovered, and 463 have died, according to the update.

State data showed 482 deaths.

COVID-19 testing provided by the Waco-McLennan County Health District and the Waco-McLennan County Office of Emergency Management has ended. Providers throughout the county including clinics and pharmacies still offer COVID-19 testing. The DSHS test location finder is a resource.

Baylor University’s online dashboard wasn’t accessible Wednesday because of a major data outage. Baylor is requiring weekly COVID-19 testing of students, faculty, and staff through the summer. The university will not require students, faculty, and staff to be vaccinated against the virus this fall but is strongly encouraging everyone to get vaccinated. As of Friday, 36% of students and more than 59% of employees had been vaccinated. The university plans to operate at 100% capacity indoors and outdoors and to return to in-person instruction without social distancing this fall. Face masks are no longer required on campus, but the school recommends those who aren’t vaccinated wear face coverings indoors.

The McLennan Community College dashboard showed no active cases Wednesday and a cumulative total of 368 cases, 286 involving students.

The Central Texas Food Bank will distribute food from 10 a.m. to noon on July 22 at Waco ISD Stadium at 1401 South New Road. This will be the last COVID-19 response mass distribution event in the city.

VACCINE INFORMATION AND RESOURCES

MCLENNAN COUNTY COVID-19 DEATHS

TEXAS PUBLIC SCHOOL COVID-19 DATA

CORYELL COUNTY

Coryell County had 7,089 total confirmed and 296 total probable cases Wednesday.

At least 43 cases were active, and 7,254 residents diagnosed with the virus have recovered.

The virus has claimed the lives of 88 residents.

The Texas Department of Criminal Justice Wednesday was reporting four cases involving employees at the Christina Melton Crain Unit; one case involving an employee at the Hilltop Unit; one case involving an inmate and six cases involving employees at the Alfred D. Hughes Unit, where 47 inmates were restricted and three were isolated; no active cases at the Mountain View Unit; one case involving an inmate and one case involving an employee at the Dr. Lane Murray Unit, where 100 inmates were restricted and one was isolated, and two cases involving inmates at the Linda Woodman State Jail where 53 inmates are restricted and three were isolated.

TEXAS PUBLIC SCHOOL COVID-19 DATA

FALLS COUNTY

Falls County had 1,898 total confirmed and 202 total probable case of the virus Wednesday.

State data showed no active cases in the county.

At least 2,071 residents diagnosed with the virus have recovered and 33 have died.

The Texas Department of Criminal Justice Wednesday reported one case involving an employee at the William Hobby Unit in Marlin, which was virus free for several weeks, and no active cases at the Marlin Transfer Unit.

TEXAS PUBLIC SCHOOL COVID-19 DATA

LIMESTONE COUNTY

Limestone County had 2,176 total confirmed and 655 total probable cases of the virus Wednesday.

Eight cases were active.

At least 2,743 residents diagnosed the virus have recovered and 80 have died.

TEXAS PUBLIC SCHOOL COVID-19 DATA

NAVARRO COUNTY

Navarro County had 3,498 total confirmed and 2,458 total probable cases Wednesday.

At least 5,768 residents diagnosed with the virus have recovered.

Local data showed 150 deaths.

The state reported 145.

At least 43 cases were active Wednesday.

TEXAS PUBLIC SCHOOL COVID-19 DATA

OTHER COUNTIES

Bosque County had 1,386 total confirmed and 313 probable cases of the virus Wednesday. Of the total, 1,656 residents have recovered and 37 have died, according to state data. Six cases were active Wednesday.

Freestone County had 1,131 total confirmed and 852 total probable cases Wednesday. At least 1,921 residents have recovered and 50 have died according to state data. At least 12 cases were active Wednesday. The Texas Department of Criminal Justice Wednesday reported one case involving an employee at the William Boyd Unit in Teague.

Hamilton County had 746 total confirmed and 61 probable cases of the virus Wednesday. At least 761 residents have recovered and 27 have died, according to state data. Nineteen cases were active Wednesday.

Hill County Wednesday had 3,836 total confirmed cases and 735 probable cases. At least 4,442 residents diagnosed with the virus have recovered, and 111 residents have died, according to state data. At least 18 cases were active Wednesday.

Lampasas County had 1,888 total confirmed and 341 probable cases Wednesday. At least 2,177 residents have recovered, and 33 residents have died, according to state data. At least 19 cases were active Wednesday.

Leon County had 1,283 total confirmed and 372 total probable cases Wednesday. At least 1,607 residents diagnosed with the virus have recovered, and 43 have died, according to state data. At least five cases were active Wednesday.

Milam County had 1,487 total confirmed and 1,097 total probable cases Wednesday. At least 2,578 residents have recovered and 49 have died. Seven cases were active Wednesday.

Mills County had 597 confirmed and 63 probable cases of the virus Wednesday. At least 637 patients have recovered and 21 have died, according to state data. Two cases were active Wednesday.

Robertson County had 1,815 total confirmed cases Wednesday and 438 total probable cases. At least 2,170 residents diagnosed with the virus have recovered, and 47 have died, according to state data. At least 36 cases were active Wednesday.

San Saba County had 524 total confirmed cases Wednesday and 258 total probable cases. At least 754 residents have recovered and 23 have died, according to state data, which showed five active cases Wednesday. The Texas Department of Criminal Justice Wednesday reported two cases involving employees at the San Saba Transfer Facility.

VACCINE INFORMATION AND RESOURCES

TEXAS PUBLIC SCHOOL COVID-19 DATA

COVID-19 INFORMATION, LINKS AND RESOURCES

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