Coronavirus

Local COVID-19 cases rose slightly Tuesday, along with regional hospitalizations, according to the Bell County Public Health District.

The county saw an increase of 16 active reported COVID-19 cases for a new total of 1,848. These also increase the incidence rate of cases in the county to 509.2 per 100,000 people, up from 504.8 Monday.

County officials did not report any new deaths from the virus, with the total remaining at 576.

During the pandemic Bell County has seen 30,432 reported cases of the virus, with 28,008 of those having recovered.

The Texas Department of State Health Services also showed a slight increase in the hospitalization rate for Trauma Service Area L — which includes Bell County.

The service area now has 17.56 percent of its hospital beds taken up by COVID-19 patients. The dashboard also showed the region has 1,145 staffed beds with 201 confirmed COVID-19 patients in the hospital.

School cases

Temple Independent School District showed having 17 active confirmed cases of COVID-19 on its dashboard Tuesday along with 14 probable cases on its tracker.

The confirmed cases include five at Temple High School, four at Lamar Middle School, four at Jefferson Elementary School, and one each at Bonham Middle School, Scott Elementary, Thornton Elementary and Western Hills Elementary.

Belton ISD reported 155 active confirmed and potential cases of the virus on its dashboard Tuesday.

The district’s cases, which account for about 0.9 percent of the total student and staff population, include 73 confirmed cases and 82 probable cases.

Salado ISD superintendent Michael Novotny said the district has 33 active cases among both its staff and students.

The district currently has six students and three staff at Thomas Arnold Elementary with the virus, 10 students at Salado Middle School and 10 students and one staff member at Salado High School. It also has three active cases of employees not assigned to a campus.

Killeen ISD shows 272 cases of the virus on its dashboard, with 220 cases among students and 52 among staff members.

Testing and vaccine sites

On Tuesday Temple announced that it would close down its drive-through testing site earlier than expected.

City officials said the site — a partnership between Temple and the Texas Army National Guard — had to close due to a lack of supplies. The site had been set to continue through the remainder of the week.

Officials said residents can look to a Texas Division of Emergency Management database located at https://bit.ly/3fQCX8q for other available testing locations.

The Texas Department of State Health Services will offer a three-day vaccination in Salado this weekend from Friday to Sunday.

The clinic will take place from noon to 6 p.m. on Friday, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sunday at both the northbound and southbound Salado rest areas. The safety rest areas are located at 16801 Interstate 35.

People wishing to get vaccinated can register at the event, with no payment or insurance required.

Workforce shortage

In a statement Tuesday, the Texas Health Care Association and LeadingAge Texas asked the Texas Legislature to help with staffing shortages at nursing homes during its third special session.

The association cited a recent survey of members showing that 70 percent were unable to hire enough nurses and 30 percent have restricted admissions due to the shortages.

The two organizations proposed aid could include funding for sign-on bonuses, overtime pay, frontline staff bonuses and hero pay. Also proposed was to allow licensed vocational nurses to use their previous experience and attend transition courses to complete an accelerated Associate Degree Nursing program.

George Linial, president and chief executive officer of LeadingAge Texas, said this would help seniors in nursing homes moving forward.

“By creating career paths to attract Texans to enter long-term health care and providing nursing homes with the necessary resources to pay them livable wages, we can build a workforce to secure the future of our field and ensure seniors are taken care of in their later years,” Linial said.

BELL COUNTY COVID-19 CASES

• Total cases: 30,432, 28,008 recovered, 576 dead

• Temple: 8,674 – up 45 from Monday.

• Killeen: 12,876 – up 53 from Monday.

• Belton: 3,700 – up 22 from Monday.

• Harker Heights: 2,073 – up 9 from Monday.

• Other: 3,218 – up 20 from Monday.

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