Killeen city officials provided what they called a rather optimistic COVID-19 update during a City Council workshop meeting this week.
The update was delivered by Killeen Fire Chief James Kubinski and the city’s Director of Emergency Management Peter Perez during the Tuesday night meeting at City Hall.
In recent weeks with the Delta variant surging across Bell County, hospitalization numbers soared, however, those numbers have come down in recent days. At Tuesday’s meeting, Kubinski gave a promising update into the city and county’s COVID-19 situation.
“One year ago today, we saw an upward trend in cases. But now, we’re seeing a downward trend,” Kubinski said in reference to numbers compared to the same time last year.
A line graph in the presentation given Tuesday depicts a fall in cases in Bell County beginning Sept. 1 to Oct. 4. Hospitalizations from COVID-19 are also down to about 12% in the Bell County area as of Tuesday, something Kubinski credits to county and city wide vaccination efforts.
In the state of Texas, 71% of residents have already received at least one dose of the vaccine, while in Killeen, a little more than half of residents have gotten one dose. Kubinski said that number may be higher because the city does not have access to Department of Defense statistics. Darnall Army Medical Center at Fort Hood has offered the vaccine to thousands of solders, retirees and military families in the area, but it’s unclear how many the Fort Hood hospital has vaccinated because Army officials will not release those numbers.
Those 65 plus and older account for the largest percentage of vaccines. Statewide, 87% of that group have received one dose, with Killeen following close behind with 78%, officials said.
The city is also still offering a coronavirus vaccine and testing site at the Killeen Special Events Center this month.
Kubinski said the demand for vaccines has remained steady, with the site supplying up to 100 shots per day. However, the demand for testing has fallen, barely meeting the need for the 500 tests that are available, according to Kubinski. The city is now in talks with the Greater Killeen Community Clinic to perhaps switch over testing. The clinic would provide residents with a COVID test by appointment, Kubinski said.
Killeen’s drive-thru clinic will continue until at least Oct. 14, the city announced this week. COVID vaccines and tests will be given at the Killeen Special Events Center from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily through Friday of this week, as well as next wee week, on Oct. 13 and Oct. 14.
No appointments are needed and Pfizer will be the available vaccine. Third shots are available to those with a doctor’s note, Kubinski said.
With numbers on the decline, Kubinski said the county may consider lowering the threat level from one to two. Currently, Bell County is at threat level 1, which translates to “severe uncontrolled community spread.”
City employees are also seeing a decrease in COVID cases, with the most infections occurring in departments that have high contact with the community. Those include law enforcement and public works. Kubinski said 10 employees are in quarantine. Six had positive COVID tests and one is awaiting a result. Here’s a breakdown of departments with absences of city employees due to COVID:
- Killeen Police Department: 5
- Public Works: 3
- Finance: 1
- Planning and Development: 1