Cases of COVID-19 continued to climb in Bell County Wednesday, increasing by more than 60% over the day before.
The Bell County Public Health District reported active cases increasing to 891 — from the 555 seen Tuesday.
This increase in active cases also resulted in the incidence rate of the virus in the county to rise to 245.51 cases per 100,000 residents in the county. This is the highest incidence rate seen locally since early October.
District officials attribute the recent spike to community spread during the holidays, along with more people willing to get tested.
Costa Claver, chief epidemiologist with the health district, said it is still unknown if Bell County will see another wave of the virus, as there is still more to study about the omicron variant.
“If the community is not willing to use protective measures as recommended by CDC such as, get fully vaccinated, wearing a mask in indoor public spaces, regardless of your vaccination status, then we may see more positive cases,” Claver said.
While cases continue to increase, deaths have remained steady at 752.
The county has seen 35,762 total confirmed cases since the start of the pandemic, with 34,119 recoveries.
Regional hospitalizations for Trauma Service Area L — which includes Bell County — remained mostly steady on both Wednesday and Thursday.
The Texas Department of State Health Services showed the number of hospital beds taken up by COVID-19 patients in the region only vary slightly in the past two days. The hospitalization rate on Wednesday was 5.2%, down 0.2 percentage points from the 5.4% seen on Tuesday, followed by 5.37% on Thursday.
Trauma Service Area L includes all hospital beds in Bell, Coryell, Hamilton, Lampasas, Milam and Mills counties.
Walmart antiviral medication
On Thursday, Walmart and Sam’s Club announced that a select number of their pharmacies would stock COVID-19 antiviral medication.
These medications, Paxlovid and Molnupiravir, will be given out through the U.S. Federal Retail Pharmacy Therapeutics Program. Company officials said supplies of the medications are expected to be limited.
To receive the medication, people will need a prescription for the medications from their doctor or health provider.
Due to the medication being used to treat COVID-19, it will only be available for curbside pickup and drive-through pharmacy windows.
“This offers customers the option to recover at home and helps reduce the burden on our hospitals and communities,” Kevin Host, senior vice president of pharmacy for Walmart, said. “As we have since the beginning of the pandemic, we’re proud to support our communities through everyday essentials, healthy food, vaccines, medication and other health care needs as we all work together to weather the pandemic.”
Local locations carrying the medication include the two Walmart stores in Temple, located at 6801 W. Adams Ave. and 3401 S. 31st, and at 2604 N. Main St. in Belton.
Those wanting more information can find it on Walmart’s immunization hub page.
Local vaccinations, testing
In Temple, COVID-19 vaccinations and testing are available at many local stores and pharmacies, including CVS, Walgreens, Walmart, the Veterans Administration Hospital and the Baylor Scott & White Medical Center and clinics.
Although some locations require appointments — which can be done online or over the phone — others allow for walk-in visits. People can search for the nearest vaccine location by calling 1-800-232-0233.