The Bell County Public Health District recorded five new COVID-19 deaths — including two in Temple — on its dashboard Friday.

The new deaths raise the total number of deaths to 759, according to the health district dashboard. The deaths included two Temple men, one on his 70s and the other in his 90s, as well as a Belton man in his 70s, a Killeen man in his 60s and a Harker Heights woman in her 50s.

Total COVID-19 active cases reported by the county are now at 3,393.

The county’s incidence rate surged to 934.91 cases per 100,000 residents in the county.

Of the 38,588 cases reported since the pandemic started, 34,436 have recovered.

The health district’s dashboard showed Trauma Service Area L had 237 of the 1,039 available hospital beds in the area have been taken up by COVID-19 patients. The service area covers Bell, Coryell, Hamilton, Lampasas, Milam and Mills counties.

Delays urged for colleges and universities

The surge of COVID-19 cases across Texas prompted the Texas Faculty Association on Friday to urge colleges and universities to delay re-openings until cases subside.

“Spurred by the highly contagious omicron variant, Texas is experiencing record numbers of COVID infections,” Cary Wintz, the association’s vice president, said in a news release. “For the safety of university and college employees, their students and their families, we urge all higher education institutions to limit classes to virtual instruction until we are through this immediate crisis.”

He added than those affected with the omicron variant may be less severe but faculty and students with underlying health conditions may be at risk. He urged college students to get fully vaccinated and wear masks while on their respective campuses.

University of Mary Hardin Baylor spokeswoman Ashley Smith the university resumed normal operations in May 2021 and no changes in the upcoming spring semester were announced.

“The university will carefully monitor local conditions and follow all directives issued by the state governor or other federal, state, or local health officials,” she said.

School cases

Belton Independent School District on Friday reported 136 cases in the district, 32 confirmed and 104 probable.

Belton elementary schools showed eight cases, with three at High Point and Miller Heights. Southwest and Sparta had one case at each school.

Ten of the cases were reported at the middle school level with four at North Belton, two at South Belton, two at Belton Middle and two at Lake Belton.

Twelve of the cases were reported at the high school level with seven at Belton High, five at Belton New Tech @ Waskow and five at Lake Belton High.

Two confirmed case was reported in other Belton ISD buildings or departments.

Temple ISD showed 12 confirmed cases on its dashboard.

The district’s confirmed cases included two at Temple High School, four at Bonham Middle School, one at Lamar Middle School, one at Travis Science Academy, one at Hector P. Garcia Elementary and one at Scott Elementary.

The Salado Independent School District reported 15 student cases and five staff cases in the past seven days.

Killeen ISD reported two new student cases on their dashboard.

Belton ISD vaccination clinic

Belton ISD will continue hosting a vaccination clinic for ages 5 and up from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday at the Pittenger Fine Arts Center, 400 N. Wall St., Belton.

Parents or guardians must be present for children under 18 to receive the vaccine, the district said in a Twitter post.

Second doses will be scheduled on-site after the first dose is given. Booster shots will also be available.

Medical professionals will be on site to answer questions, the district said.

Other vaccines and testing

Several places in Temple offer vaccinations and testing including CVS, Walgreens, Walmart, the Veterans Administration Hospital and the Baylor Scott & White Medical Center and clinics.

Some locations may require appointments or allow walk-ins. Information about the nearest vaccine location can be found by calling 1-800-232-0233.

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