As Bell County recorded 15 new COVID-19 infections Wednesday — the largest one-day jump reported since March — health officials confirmed two residents contracted the contagious virus after coming in contact with an infected Temple daycare worker.
In addition, a corrections officer at the Bell County Jail tested positive for COVID-19, but the jail does not have any cases, officials said Wednesday afternoon.
Bell County Judge David Blackburn said the county learned the corrections officer got their test results yesterday. The county has asked the governor to send a task force to help with the jail, he said.
Sheriff Eddy Lange said, “It was determined that employee had worked quite a bit in the last two weeks and not just in one position …. At this time there are no active corona cases in our employees or inmate population. Everybody is safe at this time.”
Around 1,100 inmates and employees could be tested at the jail, Blackburn said.
Bell County Jail employees are now required to wear masks and gloves while working, Lange said. They are also supplying the safety gear to inmates.
Blackburn said the Sheriff’s Department has had procedures in place prior to this positive case. For example, they have been checking temperatures before people go in, the county judge said.
Bell County has at least 263 confirmed coronavirus cases, according to the Bell County Public Health District. No additional recoveries were reported Wednesday.
The Texas Department of State Health Services reported the county’s tally at 267 — which includes coronavirus-positive Fort Hood residents.
The number of COVID-19 tests performed in Bell County remained at 15,181.
CORYELL, LAMPASAS COUNTIES
Coryell County was reporting 226 cases of the new coronavirus on Wednesday afternoon. That number remains unchanged from Tuesday’s update.
Of the 226 confirmed cases, 157 are Texas Department of Criminal Justice inmates, 30 county residents have recovered and there have been two deaths, said Coryell County Emergency Management Coordinator Robert Harrell. The remaining 37 cases are all active.
Lampasas is holding steady at nine confirmed cases of the new coronavirus, but the county has experienced a drop in active cases. There are currently only two active cases of coronavirus in Lampasas County, a drop of five from seven active cases Tuesday. There have been no reported deaths due to coronavirus reported in Lampasas County.
BELL COUNTY TESTING
Following the daycare worker’s case confirmation, the Bell County Public Health District reached out to an estimated 250 people connected to New Beginnings Learning Academy, the South Temple daycare center where an employee tested positive for the coronavirus.
“We have made contact with every single person that had a child in the facility. So far, there have only been two positives other than the one that prompted the investigation, so that’s three total for that facility,” Health District Director Amanda Robison-Chadwell said during an online news conference from the Bell County Courthouse in Belton. “We have made recommendations to anyone that does not currently have symptoms to how they can seek testing if they develop symptoms.”
The 250 figure Robison-Chadwell mentioned includes around 90 children who attend the daycare, their family members and the daycare’s employees.
Robison-Chadwell said that the test figure may not be updated every day because of data processing, labs not reporting the numbers right away and sometimes the health district may not receive the numbers.
“It’s difficult to have a daily tally every single day on top of everything else we’re trying to do,” she said. “I will endeavor to try to do that, but I can’t make any promises as to our ability to do that with everything else that we have going on.”
The health district director also addressed the two Belton Golden Chick employees who tested positive for COVID-19. She said she was unsure why the asymptomatic worker received a test.
“It could have been an elective procedure or something like that. There are a lot of reasons why people might have been tested while asymptomatic,” Robison-Chadwell said.
Herald reporter Artie Phillips contributed to this report.