Hospitalizations in Trauma Service Area L — which includes Bell County — rose by more than 3 percent Thursday, according to state data, while active infections went down.

The Texas Department of State Health Services showed hospital beds taken up by COVID-19 patients in the area rise by 3.1 percent to 21.66 percent. This is the first time the region has been above 20 percent in two weeks.

State data shows that the region has 1,182 staffed hospital beds, with 256 of those currently taken up by patients with COVID-19.

As hospitalizations rose, the Bell County Public Health District reported a decrease in active cases of the virus Thursday.

The new active case count of 1,766 is a decrease of 240 compared to what was seen in the county Wednesday. The district did not report any new deaths from the virus.

The decrease in cases also resulted in a lowering of the incidence rate to 486.6 cases per 100,000 people in the county.

In total the county has seen 30,863 cases of the virus since the start of the pandemic along with 28,521 of those having recovered so far.

School cases

Temple Independent School District now has 28 active and confirmed cases of COVID-19 in its district according to its dashboard, with 15 presumed cases.

Confirmed cases include four at Temple High School, three at Bonham Middle School, three at Lamar Middle School and one at Travis Science Academy. Other cases include two at Garcia Elementary, four at Jefferson Elementary, two at Kennedy-Powell Elementary, one at Raye-Allen Elementary, one at Scott Elementary and seven at Western Hills Elementary.

Belton ISD showed itself having 75 confirmed and 79 probable cases of the virus on its dashboard for a total of 154. Cases, both probable and confirmed, are reported in all 18 of the district’s campuses.

The cases account for about 0.83 percent of the student and staff population in the district.

Salado ISD superintendent Michael Novotny said Thursday that the district had 33 active cases of the virus.

The cases in the district include seven students and two employees at Thomas Arnold Elementary, eight students at Salado Middle School, 12 students and a staff member at Salado High School and three employees not assigned to a campus.

Killeen ISD reported 335 cases on its dashboard, 277 among its students and 58 among its staff members.

County vaccinations

Bell County announced Thursday that it would be partnering with the Texas Military Department to operate two free vaccine clinics this weekend.

County officials said that while the clinic was meant for those who were vaccinated in a similar clinic at the end of August, those who want their first dose are still welcome.

Those who are getting their first dose are expected to find another provider for their second dose, with many local pharmacies and health care providers offering them.

The two clinics will be open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on both Saturday and Sunday at the Bell County Expo Center, 301 W. Loop 121 in Belton. Attendees are asked to enter through the Expo’s east entrance off of Loop 121 and follow traffic and signage.

Residents looking to get vaccinated will be able to register at the event.

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