Eight new lab-confirmed COVID-19 cases were reported by the Bell County Public Health District on Tuesday, as active cases reached 321.

Since the pandemic reached Bell County in March 2020, officials have reported 34,269 lab-confirmed cases of COVID-19 and at least 33,213 recoveries, according to health district data.

Deaths remained at 735 with the latest three identified on Monday.

COVID-19 hospitalizations in Trauma Service Area L — composed of Bell, Coryell, Hamilton, Lampasas, Milam and Mills counties — increased for a second straight day, according to the Texas Department of State Health Services.

The department’s COVID-19 dashboard showed the percentage of hospital beds taken up by COVID-19 patients to have increased from 3.53% to 3.73%.

Trauma Service Area L now has 1,100 staffed hospital beds with 41 taken up by patients with COVID-19, according to DSHS data.

Mandate petition

On Monday, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott filed a petition in the U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals that challenges the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate — a directive he deemed unlawful.

“This court should vacate OSHA’s mandate, which ‘runs afoul of the statute from which it draws its power and likely, violates the constitutional structure that safeguards our collective liberty,’” the petition said. “OSHA is trying to deliver on President (Joe Biden’s) empty threat that ‘if these governors won’t help us beat the pandemic, I’ll use my power as president to get them out of the way.’ Gov. Abbott’s Executive Order GA-40 need not yield to President Biden’s unconstitutional power grab.”

School cases

The Belton, Temple and Killeen independent school districts all registered a slight uptick in COVID-19 cases on Tuesday.

There are 15 active COVID-19 cases — five lab-confirmed and 10 probable — in the Belton Independent School District: five at Lake Belton High, two at Belton Middle School, two attributed to “other departments/buildings” one at Chisholm Trail Elementary, one at Lakewood Elementary, one at Miller Heights Elementary, one at Lake Belton Middle School, one at North Belton Middle School and one at Belton High School.

These infections account for about 0.10% of Belton ISD’s population, according to the district’s COVID-19 dashboard.

Three walk-in vaccine clinics for those aged 5 years and older are currently scheduled for this week from 3:30-6:30 p.m. in Belton ISD: Wednesday at Chisholm Trail Elementary, 1082 S. Wheat Road in Belton; Thursday at Southwest Elementary, 611 S. Saunders St. in Belton; Friday at Lakewood Elementary, 11200 W. Adams Ave./FM 2305 in Temple.

Belton New Tech High School @ Waskow, 320 N. Blair St. in Belton, will host a vaccine clinic 10 a.m.-2 p.m. on Saturday.

Temple ISD’s seven-day report, logging lab-confirmed COVID-19 cases reported between Nov. 10 and Nov. 16, showed three infections: two at Thornton Elementary and one at Cater Elementary.

In Salado ISD, Superintendent Michael Novotny continued to report zero active COVID-19 cases.

“We have not had any reported cases of Salado ISD students or employees diagnosed with COVID-19 since Tuesday, Nov. 2,” Novotny said in his daily newsletter on Tuesday.

Killeen ISD has tallied 22 COVID-19 infections over the last 10 days — about 0.4% of the school system’s 50,822 population, according to district data.

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