Bell County reports 7th COVID-19 case, 1st instance of community spread

Florida now has a third presumptive positive case of the Coronavirus. (MGN)
Florida now has a third presumptive positive case of the Coronavirus. (MGN)(WJHG)
Published: Mar. 17, 2020 at 8:20 PM CDT
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Bell County Friday reported its seventh confirmed case of the new coronavirus and officials said it’s the first involving community spread.

The case involves a Temple resident.

Three other of the county’s cases also involve Temple residents, one involves a Killeen resident, one involves a Belton resident and the another involves a resident of the county.

One of the five is a 70- to 80-year-old Temple man with a recent travel history to South Africa.

The district identified another presumptive case late Sunday night involving a 70-year-old man living in Bell County with a travel history to Europe.

The first case in the county was confirmed last week, involving a 29-year-old Belton man, who works at Laerdal Medical in Gatesville, visited Barcelona, Spain and Paris between March 4 and March 10.

Thirteen cases of the virus, including one involving community spread, have been reported in McLennan County and a confirmed case was diagnosed in Bosque County, but the patient is not a resident of the county.

Bell County officials Friday, meanwhile, issued stricter, amended rules in response to the threat of the new coronavirus.

The revised order bans gatherings of more than 10 people anywhere in the county effective at midnight Friday until further notice.

Bell County officials Tuesday declared a local disaster and public health emergency in an effort to contain the spread of the new coronavirus, five cases of which have now been confirmed in the county.

“It is the intent of this directive for the terms and provisions to be interpreted and applied broadly and in accordance with the primary objective of limiting the number of people at gatherings to no more than 10 people and to achieve active social distancing,” the order says.

The county issued a declaration of local disaster and public health emergency on Tuesday that limited the size of gatherings to no more than 50 people.

Restaurants are limited to drive-through and takeout service.

The order closes bars and indoor recreation facilities such as gyms, bowling alleys and pool halls and bans visitors at nursing homes and retirement centers.

Massage parlors are also required to close.

The order’s provisions don’t apply to retail stores, malls, office spaces, grocery stores or schools.

Violating the order is a class C misdemeanor punishable by a fine of as much as $1,000.

The order is effective for seven days, but commissioners can and likely will extend it.

McLennan County officials have issued a similar order.

Bell County is now in Stage 3 of its COVID 19 Action Plan, which is being amended Monday to recommend that all gatherings of 50 or more people be canceled or postponed.

Bell County COVID19 Action Plan

Stage 1 (no confirmed cases of COVID19) • Stay home if you are sick • Avoid contact with persons who are sick • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unclean hands • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue and throw the tissue away • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces with a disinfectant • Don’t travel to areas with active community spread of COVID19 • Wash your hands with soap and water regularly and use hand sanitizers with at least 60% of alcohol content when soap and water are not available

Stage 2 (a confirmed case of COVID19) • All of Stage 1 measures • Actively practice ‘social distancing’ … whenever possible maintain 6 feet distance from other persons • Avoid physical contact with other persons in social and workplace settings • Recommend all gatherings of 50 or more persons be canceled or postponed

Stage 3 (community spread of COVID19) • All Stage 1 & Stage 2 measures • Bell County &/or BCPHD may issue orders restricting and/or prohibiting mass gatherings and/or movement of people

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