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Bell County continues to see an overall decrease in COVID-19 numbers — with the exception of its rate of positive coronavirus tests. But the county’s top public health official said Thursday residents cannot forget the pandemic will continue for the foreseeable future.

On Thursday, an additional 143 residents recovered from the virus and 75 contracted it, according to the Bell County Public Health District. At least 3,361 cases have been reported, with 1,869 total recoveries.

Killeen reported 1,165 cases, Temple had 1,141, Belton reported 462. Harker Heights showed 216 cases. Other areas of the county accounted for 377 cases.

“I want to emphasize that, while we are happy to see and encouraged by the downward trend, but please do not take this as a sign that COVID-19 is a thing of the past,” Health District Director Amanda Robison-Chadwell said. “It is still spreading in many places and our numbers are not nearly low enough yet.”

Bell County’s rate of positive COVID-19 tests reached a new high Thursday: 9.55%. At least 35,205 tests have been performed.

“We are still seeing the trend of the younger age groups driving cases and a continued increase in cases among those younger than 20 years old,” Robison-Chadwell said.

At least 408 residents younger than 20 have tested positive for the virus.

Bell County residents younger than 60 make up the 81.5% of all reported cases. That is 2,741 infections.

“We should continue our efforts to socially distance, mask, wash hands and remain home when sick,” Robison-Chadwell said. “It’s important that everyone continue to keep up the effort and we thank you all for helping us fight this virus. We are all in this together.”

Dashboard changes noted

The health district tweaked its COVID-19 dashboard. It now includes a map of cases broken down by ZIP code. That, said the health district director, shows viewers the geographical areas with the highest burden of cases.

“Any ZIP code area with less than seven cases is not shown for confidentiality,” she said. “You’ll note some ZIP code areas stretch into other counties. Only those individuals who live in those areas within the boundaries of Bell County are included in our data.”

The map gives a clearer picture on how Bell County’s smaller and more rural communities are being impacted by the virus.

The Belton area ZIP code has 462 cases and the West Temple area ZIP code has at least 511 infections. They are the two areas with the highest case counts, according to the health district.

Robison-Chadwell acknowledged that some figures on the dashboard are different than they were Wednesday.

“There was also a need for some re-sorting of the data due to some older cases that were reported to us yesterday as noted in a previous statement,” she said. “Some of the charts were originally a little bit off as a result of out of order dates and that has since been corrected.”

*Death totals include nine from state death certificates, which were added to state totals starting Monday. Fort Hood on-post numbers are reported directly to the state and are added to total cases. Other numbers reported from the Bell County Health District based on 35,205 tests administered with a 9.547 percent positive rate. State totals may vary as Fort Hood on-post numbers are reported directly to the state.

coryell, lampasas counties

In Coryell County, the confirmed positive cases have increased by five since Wednesday.

The county reported on its website on Thursday a total of 361 cases with 258 active, 99 recovered and four deaths.

The county has stopped including the Texas Department of Criminal Justice inmates who have tested positive for the virus in Gatesville state prisons.

In Lampasas County as of Wednesday, there were 158 confirmed positive cases, according to Angela Rainwater, the county’s emergency management coordinator.

Of the total, 29 were active, and 127 have recovered.

There were two deaths in Lampasas County.

Lampasas County officials could not be reached on Thursday.

Herald staff writer Hunter King contributed to this report.

jsanchez@tdtnews.com

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