Coronavirus pandemic

Seven more COVID-19 deaths from Bell County have reported to the state, more than a month following the Bell County Public Health District stopping its local coronavirus updates.

The state’s COVID-19 dashboard, updated this week, now shows an increase of deaths locally from the virus. The dashboard, maintained by the Department of State Health Services, has been slow to update, previously showing less cases and deaths than what the county reported.

The county’s number of deaths from the virus is 443 — seven more deaths that what the county reported a month ago. The number of confirmed cases in Bell County is now at 22,583 and recoveries at 22,184.

In May, when it was last updated, the Bell County Public Health District’s dashboard showed 436 reported deaths, 22,528 total cases and 21,915 people having recovered.

Over the past month, the county has slowed down on coronavirus-related work, though it is still helping to vaccinate some populations through the health district.

“We are still assisting with the scheduling and the health district is still organizing vaccination clinics for organizations or companies that reach out to them,” Bell County spokesman James Stafford said. “Right now, the large-scale vaccination clinics are not something we are planning on doing but the smaller closed clinics for organizations or companies are.”

County officials said Bell County has either administered or transferred 145,000 doses of the vaccine, some doses going to other providers. The state vaccination dashboard shows that about 29.7 percent of the county’s population, ages 12 and up, have been fully vaccinated so far.

The county also reported that Curative, a company brought in by Commissioners to help with vaccinations, has now stopped work in the county due to decreased demand.

Stafford said the company’s last day working in Bell County was June 10, but Curative is still helping administer vaccinations in other nearby counties.

Milam update

In Milam County, officials are still making efforts to get everyone vaccinated and have seen results from a recent effort to appeal to children.

The county currently has had 1,483 cases of COVID-19, with 1,477 people having recovered, 49 deaths and six cases still active as of Tuesday.

Milam County Judge Steve Young said the county has been able to vaccinate about 100 additional children in the past two weeks since announcing its new program. The program offers children who are able $250 each to get fully vaccinated by the county. Fifty children were previously vaccinated before the announcement of the program.

Young said the incentive has been well received by most county residents, giving those who might have wanted to get their children vaccinated an incentive to make time.

“We have had success with it and we are getting people vaccinated, and we are vaccinating every day of the week,” Young said. “And we are going to keep doing it until we get everybody who wants to get vaccinated, vaccinated.”

Young said the county only currently has a herd immunity rate of about 45 percent, something he still hopes to work on, and thinks the county still has a ways to go.

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