Three new deaths from COVID-19 were reported by the Bell County Public Health District Wednesday as cases rose slightly.

The new deaths bring the county’s total to 718 since the start of the pandemic in March 2020. Active cases in the county also rose by 24 — to 358 cases — from the 334 cases reported on Tuesday.

Rising case numbers resulted in the county’s incidence rate climbing to 98.64 cases per 100,000 residents.

The county’s dashboard also reported having seen 33,902 reported cases of the virus since the start of the pandemic, with 32,826 of those having recovered.

Hospitalizations fell in Trauma Service Area L — which includes Bell County — according to the Texas Department of State Health Services.

The department’s dashboard showed a decrease in the percentage of hospital beds taken up by COVID-19 patients. The rate fell by 1.03 percentage points to 5.52 percent, from the 6.55 percent seen Tuesday.

Trauma Service Area L includes beds at the hospitals in Bell, Coryell, Hamilton, Lampasas, Milam and Mills counties.

State children vaccinations

Children between the ages of five and 11 will soon have greater access to the pediatric version of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine in Texas.

The Texas Department of State Health Services announced Wednesday that Texas would receive more than 1.3 million doses of the pediatric vaccine from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The department instructed the CDC to ship the vaccine to more than 900 providers in 155 of the state’s counties during the coming week.

Of the doses from the CDC, 1,010,700 will go to providers around the state and 349,200 are set to be delivered to pharmacies in the federal pharmacy program.

Dr. John Hellerstedt, commissioner of the department, said vaccinating this population will help protect all those who live in the state.

“Twenty-two Texas children between the ages of five and 11 have died from complications of COVID-19 and 118 have been diagnosed with Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in Children,” Hellerstedt said. “The pediatric vaccine will further help reduce the spread of disease and prevent the rare but serious complications of COVID-19 in this age group.”

Officials from Baylor Scott & White Medical Center – Temple said the provider is expecting to receive some of the vaccine doses but is not sure how many.

School cases

Temple Independent School District showed only one active confirmed case of COVID-19 on its dashboard Wednesday, along with one probable case on its tracker. The lone confirmed case was located at Western Hills Elementary School.

Belton ISD reported having 23 active cases on its dashboard, with 16 probable and seven confirmed. The district’s confirmed cases included one at Belton High, one at North Belton Middle School, one at Lake Belton Middle School, two at Tarver Elementary, one at Pirtle Elementary and one at Belton Early Childhood School.

Salado ISD Superintendent Michael Novotny said the district had six active cases of the virus in the past week including a student and staff member at Thomas Arnold Elementary and four students at Salado High School.

Killeen ISD has 28 active cases in its district, with 17 students and 11 staff members currently having the virus.

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