As we all seek to stay up to date on local coronavirus information, the Herald will be compiling questions and answers into one, easy to find document. This basic information will be expanded and updated continually. Please send us your additional questions, and we will research answers to add to this file. If you represent a business, government, medical provider or other agency with information, please contact us with helpful answers.
Email email@example.com and put CORONAVIRUS QUESTION in the subject field.
UPDATED MARCH 27
Q: Is there a restriction on running as long as it is a non-high traffic route?
A: According to the order by Bell County Judge David Blackburn, outdoor physical activity is permitted and considered an essential activity.
“To engage in outdoor activity, provided the individuals comply with social distancing requirements of six feet (for example, walking, biking, hiking or running),” the order says.
For those who are 65 or older and individuals with compromised immune systems or underlying health conditions, “Outdoor exercise activities should be solitary,” the order says.
Q: What is the status of the economic stimulus bill?
A: On March 27, the House passed and President Trump signed the $2.2 trillion economic rescue package to help businesses, hospitals and ordinary Americans make it through the crisis. The $2.2 trillion legislation will speed government payments of $1,200 to most Americans and increase jobless benefits for millions of people thrown out of work. Businesses big and small will get loans, grants and tax breaks. It will send unprecedented billions to states and local governments, and the nation’s all but overwhelmed health care system, according to The Associated Press.
Q: Where can I get general coronavirus local information?
A: The city of Copperas Cove has established a coronavirus hotline that residents can call to speak to a city staff member to gain information about the virus, according to the city’s Facebook page. The number to call for the hotline is 254-542-8920. The hotline will be available beginning today and the hours will be from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday and from 8 a.m. to noon on Saturday.
The City of Killeen has established two resources, a phone hotline and a webpage, to assist the community in understanding the local impacts of COVID-19. The phone number is 254-616-3209. Operators are available Monday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. The City’s COVID-19 webpage is available 24-hours per day and its address is KilleenTexas.gov/COVID19.
Bell County established a phone bank, which will be staffed from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. Calls received after hours and weekends will roll to 2-1-1. The number for the phone bank is 254-933-5203. In addition, Bell County is regularly updating a FAQ page on its website ttps://www.bellcountytx.com/faq_s_-_frequently_asked_questions.php.
Q: Who issued shelter-at-home orders locally?
A: Bell County Judge David Blackburn issued a countywide shelter-at-home order after local health officials reported an increase in the total of COVID-19 infections. Lampasas city officials issued a similar order for that county. The directive is in effect through 11:59 p.m. April6, according to both orders.
Q: Who is affected by the shelter-in-place order?
A: All Bell County and Lampasas city residents must stay at their homes and leave only for “essential activities and for operating essential businesses.”
Those who share outdoor spaces at their residences must apply the social distancing rule of 6 feet from any other person when they are outside. All public or private gatherings of 10 or more people outside a household are prohibited.
It does not prohibit the gathering of members of a household or living unit.
Q: What falls under ‘essential (exempt) businesses/activities?’
A: This is broken down by category:
- Essential Healthcare:
- Hospitals and clinics
- Pharmacies, pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies
- Healthcare suppliers
- Mental health and substance abuse service
- Blood banks
- Medical research and laboratory services
- Home-based and residential-based care for seniors, adults, or children
- Veterinary care
All essential government functions, that includes conducting city council meetings, shall be performed in compliance with social distancing requirements of 6 feet.
Essential Critical Infrastructure and Activities:
- Public works construction
- Residential and commercial construction
- Airport operations
- Water, sewer, gas, electrical, oil refining,
- Solid waste collection and removal,
- Internet and telecommunications systems
- Trash and recycling collections, processing and disposal
- Mail and shipping services
- Grocery stores
- Warehouse stores,
- Big-box stores
- Liquor stores
- Gas stations and convenience stores
- Farmers’ markets
Auto-supply, auto and bicycle repair
Hardware stores, construction supply stores
Newspapers, television, radio, and other media services
(The order requires all of the above to comply with the social distancing guidelines for both employees and the general public.)
Q: What about businesses that aren’t listed as essential?
A: Those businesses within both counties are required to cease all operations in facilities in the county.
However, unexempt businesses may continue operations exclusively with employees working from home.
Q: How are restaurants and fast-food places handled?
A: Restaurants and fast-food places may only provide take out, delivery, or drive-through services.
Q: What about churches or other places of worship?
A: Religious and worship services may only be provided by video and teleconference. Religious institutions must limit in-person staff to 10 people or less when preparing for or conducting video or teleconference services, and all individuals must follow the 6-foot social distancing rule.
Q: How is daycare service handled?
A: It falls under essential services, however, daycare centers must follow the 10-person rule and be kept separate, Bell County officials said. In the city of Lampasas, daycares can continue to operate but are limited to 12 children per daycare group.
Q: What are symptoms of coronavirus or COVID-19?
A: Centers for Disease Control: Symptoms can include cough, fever and shortness of breath.
Q: What should I do if I have symptoms of coronavirus?
A: From the CDC: Seek medical advice if you develop symptoms, and have been in close contact with a person known to have COVID-19 or if you live in or have recently been in an area with ongoing spread of COVID-19.
Q: Should people get tested, even if they don’t show symptoms, in case they could be carriers of the virus?
A: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says, “Your doctor will determine if you have signs and symptoms of COVID-19 and whether you should be tested.”
Locally, Baylor Scott & White Medical Center in Temple, Seton Medical Center in Harker Heights and AdventHealth in Killeen have the ability to test for the coronavirus, although spokeswomen for all three hospitals said testing requires a screening and a doctor’s referral.
“If you do not qualify through the screening questionnaire, you should not be tested,” said Erin Riley, public relation and marketing manager of AdventHealth.
Riley said medical professionals are trying to use the resources they have in the most efficient manner to help prevent a backlog in the testing.
Tiya Searcy, spokeswoman for Baylor Scott & White, said patients can be screened at any time, but they will only be selected for testing at the recommendation of a doctor or physician.
“If someone isn’t showing symptoms, but they are screened by the doctor, and then they are following up with a physician, the physician may in fact order that they do get a testing done, considering certain markers,” Searcy said.
Screening at Scott & White is free. The screening questionnaire is available from Baylor Scott & White on MyBSWHealth which can be accessed online or on a phone.
After the screening, a patient may be asked to start an eVisit, according to the hospital’s website. Once the eVisit is complete, a provider will determine the next steps and provide you with a testing site, if necessary.
At Seton Medical Center, screening is recommended over the phone. The hospital’s spokeswoman Lucy Taylor said people can initiate the screening at any time, but, as with the other hospitals, a recommendation for testing will only come from a doctor or a primary care physician.
If patients want to initiate the screening process with Seton Medical Center but do not have a primary care physician, they can call 855-855-4469, and the hospital can assist in finding a physician.
Q: For any medical issues, what can I expect at the clinic or hospital?
A: Baylor Scott and White
Visitors and patients will use designated entrances and be screened upon arrival. Visitors will undergo a short screening at the designated entry points. This screening is based on CDC guidelines for identifying respiratory illnesses, including coronavirus (COVID-19). Patients will continue to be screened at registration.
Two visitors per patient during visiting hours. Baylor Scott and White has temporarily suspended entry of those under the age of 16. Waiting rooms will be closed to large groups.
Seton Medical Center in Harker Heights has begun screening patients and guests to the hospital. According to hospital spokeswoman Lucy Taylor, the hospital has limited the number of hospital entrances so staff can screen every person entering the facility.
Seton is limiting visitors to only one per patient, and only if their presence is absolutely necessary. Seton is also prohibiting children under the age of 16 to limit their exposure to illnesses.
AdventHealth hospital began coronavirus screenings Friday. The screening process entails questions about recent travel and any current symptoms, among others. Spokeswoman Erin Riley said if a hospital visitor is flagged as requiring further examination, they will be directed to a newly-implemented RIPS (Respiratory Infection Protocol Station) area where they will receive further directions.
AdventHealth is cautioning people from visiting the hospital unless absolutely necessary. For example, if a family member is in the hospital for a routine medical check up or procedure, people are urged to avoid visiting them in the hospital to limit exposure to various illnesses.
Carl R. Darnall Army Medical Center will begin screening individuals at clinic entry points this week. There will be signs posted to direct hospital visitors to screening entry points.
Darnall is discouraging people from visiting the hospital unless absolutely necessary. For example, if a family member is in the hospital for a routine medical check up or procedure, people are urged to avoid visiting them in the hospital to limit exposure to various illnesses.
Q: How do I get food for my child?
A: KISD: The Killeen Independent School District is serving breakfast from 7:30 to 8:30 a.m. and lunch from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. The following locations are all serving breakfast and lunch:
- Boys and Girls Club of Central Texas in Nolanville
- Cedar Valley Elementary School
- Hay Branch Elementary School
- Harker Heights Elementary School
- Manor Middle School
- Oveta Culp Hobby Elementary School
- Peebles Elementary School
- Pershing Park Elementary School
- Rancier Middle School
- Reeces Creek Elementary School
- Shoemaker High School
- West Ward Elementary School
- Willow Springs Elementary School
CCISD: The Copperas Cove Independent School District is serving breakfast from 7:30 to 9 a.m. and lunch from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. in a “grab and go” format. The following locations are serving breakfast and lunch:
Fairview/Miss Jewell Elementary School
Hettie Halstead Elementary School
Mae Stevens Early Learning Academy
Q: What are grocery store hours?
A: H-E-B: 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Walmart and Neighborhood Market: 6 a.m. to 11 p.m.
Sam’s Club: 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday