Coronavirus pandemic

Local cases of COVID-19 continued to fall Thursday, according to the Bell County Public Health District dashboard.

The dashboard reported a decrease of 48 cases since Wednesday, for the total reported active cases now at 1,640. The county’s incidence rate also decreased to 451.87 cases of the virus per every 100,000 people in the county.

Officials did not report any new deaths from the virus, with the total at 557.

The dashboard now shows the county having had 29,773 cases of COVID-19 over the course of the pandemic, with 27,576 of those cases recovering.

Trauma Service Are L — which includes Bell County — reported its fifth day of declining COVID-19 hospitalization rates Thursday.

The percentage of hospital beds taken up by COVID-19 patients is now 17.37 percent according to the Texas Department of State Health Services dashboard. Trauma Service Area L also includes Coryell, Hamilton, Lampasas, Milam and Mills counties in addition to Bell County.

School cases

Temple Independent School District reported 16 confirmed active COVID-19 cases on its 7-day dashboard Thursday along with 13 probable cases on its tracker.

Confirmed cases included eight at Temple High School, two at Meridith-Dunbar Early Childhood Academy, and one each at Bonham Middle School, Cater Elementary, Garcia Elementary, Jefferson Elementary, Scott Elementary and Thornton Elementary.

Belton ISD reported 1.07 percent of its student and staff population had cases of the virus, spread out between all of its 18 campuses.

The district’s dashboard now shows a total of 169 confirmed and probable COVID-19 cases, with 67 confirmed and 102 in the probable category.

Salado ISD superintendent Michael Novotny said the district currently has 39 active cases of the virus among its staff and students.

Thomas Arnold Elementary has 10 students and three staff members with the virus, Salado Middle School has nine students and Salado High School has 11 students and three employees. The district also has three employees not assigned to a campus with the virus.

Killeen ISD showed 415 active cases on its online dashboard Thursday with 330 being students and 85 staff members. This accounts for 0.84 percent of the district’s entire population.

Jail death

Family members of Killeen resident Indrel Green, 48, are blaming the Bell County Jail after her death from COVID-19 on Sept. 1.

Green’s daughter Shawnea Ockelberry told FME News Service that her mother was taken to Baylor Scott & White Medical Center – Temple with a severe case of the virus. She said not enough was done to treat her mother.

Green, who had been set to go to trial soon, was an inmate at the county jail since her arrest in 2019 on a robbery charge.

“She sat in that cell for four days, struggling to breathe,” Ockelberry said. “We were told by a friend of hers (in jail) that she hadn’t been eating or interacting with anyone, just sleeping and showering at times. She was neglected. She was helpless. When they finally rendered aid, it was so severe that she had to be rushed to the hospital.”

Ockelberry said the jail needed to test everyone who enters, quarantining any inmates that have the virus.

While she knows the spread of the virus can’t be stopped completely, Ockelberry said she thought more can be done. She said people in jail need to be protected, regardless of what they are accused of.

Maj. Shane Sowell, the jail administrator, pointed out that all inmates who are symptomatic or are entering the jail are tested for the virus. Those testing positive are quarantined.

Sowell said all staff members at the jail are required to wear masks, with vaccines available to them and inmates if they want them.

“During the last month, we have had positive cases and those numbers fluctuate, (but) we have stayed around 2 percent of the total population,” Sowell said. “Those inmates known to have been exposed are quarantined as recommended by the Local Health Department.”

Event cancellation

The Ladies Auxiliary of the Morgan’s Point Resort Volunteer Fire Department announced that its “Cops vs. Robbers” 5K run event, which was scheduled for Sept. 25, has been postponed until further notice due to low participation and the COVID-19 pandemic.

The organization also cited low participation, as well as the virus, for the postponement.

“We will wait until the pandemic calms down to reschedule,” the Ladies Auxiliary posted on its Facebook page.

BELL COUNTY COVID-19 CASES

• Total cases: 29,773, 27,576 recovered, 557 dead

• Temple: 8,516 – up 26 from Wednesday.

• Killeen: 12,585 – up 43 from Wednesday.

• Belton: 3,628 – up 11 from Wednesday.

• Harker Heights: 2,023 – up 5 from Wednesday.

• Other: 3,130 – up 16 from Wednesday.

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