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COVID-19 didn’t take a break over the holiday weekend; area death toll rises to more than 500

Fifteen more Central Texas residents diagnosed with COVID-19 died over the long holiday weekend.
Fifteen more Central Texas residents diagnosed with COVID-19 died over the long holiday weekend.(Drake Lawson)
Published: Nov. 30, 2020 at 4:15 PM CST|Updated: Dec. 1, 2020 at 10:29 AM CST
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(KWTX) - COVID-19 didn’t take a break over the long holiday weekend as the regional death toll rose to at least 501 and 708 new cases of the virus were confirmed in Central Texas and more than 37,000 new cases were confirmed statewide.

The Texas Department of State Health Services reported 10,838 additional cases of the virus Monday, 10,714 of them new, for a total of 1,168,111, which is 37,131 higher than the number reported last Wednesday before the start of the Thanksgiving holiday weekend.

Since last Wednesday, at least 429 more Texans have died of the virus.

The statewide death toll Monday was 21,379, 22 more than on Sunday.

Twelve more deaths were reported Monday in McLennan County and additional deaths were also reported in Bell, Coryell, Falls, Freestone, Lampasas, Robertson and San Saba Counties.

The Central Texas death toll may now be as high as 517, but according to state data Monday at least 501 area residents diagnosed with the virus have now died including 118 Bell County residents, three more than the local count of 115; 15 Bosque County residents; 16 Coryell County residents, one more than the local count of 15; 15 Falls County residents; 13 Freestone County residents; seven Hamilton County residents; 18 Hill County residents; 11 Lampasas County residents; 15 Leon County residents; 18 Limestone County residents; 188 McLennan County residents, nine fewer than the local count of 197; nine Milam County residents; four Mills County residents; 38 Navarro County residents, seven fewer than the local count of 45; eight Robertson County residents, two more than the local count of six, and eight San Saba County residents.

At least 8,900 patients were hospitalized statewide Monday, up from 8,634 Sunday, and in the two Trauma Service Areas that include most of Central Texas, at least 212 were hospitalized including a record number in McLennan County.

County judges in Bosque, Falls, Hill, Limestone and McLennan counties were advised by letter on Sunday that hospitalizations in Trauma Service Area M, to which the counties are assigned, have risen above 15% of total hospitalizations, which triggers capacity reductions per orders Gov. Greg Abbott issued on Sept. 17 and Oct. 7.

On Monday the number of COVID-19 patients per available beds was 18.4% and the number per total hospitalizations was 24%.

Almost 10.8 million tests have been administered statewide, and the Lab Test Report Date clinical positivity rate Monday was 11.72%, up from 11.53% on Sunday.

BELL COUNTY

The Bell County Public Health District reported a total of 8,435 confirmed cases of the virus Monday, an increase of 98 since last Wednesday, and three more deaths, a Killeen woman in her 60s, a Belton man in his 60s and a Temple man in his 90s.

Of the total, 935 cases were active Monday and 7,500 patients have recovered.

“We expected to see an initial decline in cases following the Thanksgiving break due to low reporting during the holiday since employees at those facilities likely took time off and we also were notified that at least one reporting entity had a technical error that will delay reporting of the new cases so they are not reflected in today’s numbers,” health district Director Dr. Amanda Robison-Chadwell said Monday.

State data, which include Fort Hood personnel who live on post, showed 8,443 cases Monday, an increase of 99 over the long weekend.

State data, based on birth certificates and county of residence, showed 118 deaths, an increase of five since last Wednesday.

The Central Texas Food Bank will distribute food from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. on Dec. 19 at Temple College at 2600 South 1st St. in Temple.

The City of Temple has closed some facilities to walk-in traffic through Jan. 18 including the Municipal Building/City Hall; Human Resources; Temple Public Library; Historic Post Office; Parks and Recreation Administration Building; Public Works Service Center; Hillcrest Cemetery, and the Utility Business Office/Municipal Court. Services at the facilities will be available online, by phone, by appointment at curbside or via drive-thru.

The University of Mary Hardin-Baylor dashboard Monday still showed nine active cases of the virus and a total of 178 since Aug. 1.

Texas A&M University-Central Texas Monday showed two active cases, one involving a student and one involving a staff member, and a total of 13 student cases and five employee cases since March.

The Killeen ISD’s online dashboard Monday showed 206 cases involving students and 263 involving employees since March 16 and seven student cases and 38 staff cases in the past seven days. The district Monday reported one employee case at Fowler Elementary; one student and one employee case at Harker Heights Elementary; one employee case at Haynes Elementary; two employee cases at Ira Cross Elementary; two employee cases at Nolanville Elementary; one employee case at Oveta Culp Hobby Elementary; one employee case at Reeces Creek Elementary; two student and two employee cases at Saegert Elementary; two employee cases at Skipcha Elementary; one employee case at Timber Ridge Elementary; three employee cases at Trimmier Elementary; one employee case at West Ward Elementary; one employee case at Willow Springs Elementary; one employee case at Eastern Hills Middle School; one employee case at Live Oak Ridge Middle School; one employee case at Manor Middle School; one student and one employee case at Smith Middle School; two employee cases at Union Grove Middle School; one student and one employee case at Ellison High School; one employee case at Gateway High; one student and two employee cases at Harker Heights High; two employee cases at Killeen High; one employee case at the KISD Career Center; one student and two employee cases at Shoemaker High; and six active cases at non-campus facililites.

The Killeen ISD will offer free COVID-19 screening to students and employees from 7 a.m. to 11 .m. and 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. on regular school days starting on Thursday at the former Nolan Middle School building at 505 Jasper Dr. in Killeen, using the 2nd Street entrance. Screening is by appointment and students younger than 18 require signed waivers from parents or guardians. The state-funded testing uses BinaxNOW nasal swab tests, which provide results in 15 minutes. Information will be available online.

The Temple ISD’s online dashboard Monday showed five cases at Temple High School; one at Bonham Middle School; one case at Travis Middle School; one case at Cater Elementary; one case at Raye-Allen Elementary; and one case in the district’s transportation department.

The Belton ISD’s online dashboard Monday showed one case at Belton Early Childhood School; one at Charter Oak Elementary; one at Pirtle Elementary; one at Sparta Elementary; one at Tarver Elementary; one at Belton Middle School; two at Lake Belton Middle School; one at North Belton Middle School; one at Belton High School; three at Lake Belton High School, and three at non-campus facilities.

The health district has created a guide for safe holiday practices that’s available online.

BELL COUNTY COVID-19 DEATHS

TEXAS PUBLIC SCHOOL COVID-19 DATA

MCLENNAN COUNTY

The Waco-McLennan County Health District Monday reported the deaths of a 94-year-old man; a 62-year-old man; an 84-year-old woman; a 97-year-old man; an 86-year-old man; a 76-year-old man; a 92-year-old woman; a 91-year-old man; a 92-year-old woman; an 82-year-old woman; a 90-year-old man, and a 75-year-old man, raising the virus’ toll in the county to 197.

The health district also reported an increase of 381 cases over the long holiday weekend, increasing the county’s total to 14,410.

On Thanksgiving Day 146 new cases were confirmed, 88 from surge testing; on Friday, 42 additional cases were confirmed, none from surge testing; on Saturday 89 new cases were confirmed 44, from surge testing, and on Sunday 48 new cases were confirmed, none from surge testing.

On Monday the health district confirmed another 56 cases, none from surge testing.

Cases confirmed Monday include one resident who ranges in age from 1 to 10; 12 who range in age from 18 to 25; three who range in age from 26 to 29; nine residents in their 30s; seven residents in their 40s; seven residents in their 50s; three in their 60s; four in their 70s, and 10 who are 80 or older.

Of the county’s 14,410 total confirmed cases, 793 were active Monday, 13,420 patients have recovered and a record 101 patients were hospitalized, a record 22 of them on ventilators.

Sixty six of the 101 are McLennan County residents.

Hospitalizations in the state Trauma Service Area that includes McLennan County have risen above 15% of total hospitalizations, which triggers capacity reductions per orders Gov. Greg Abbott issued on Sept. 17 and Oct. 7.

McLennan County Judge Scott Felton issued order that says, “For the past 7 days, the number of COVID-19 hospitalized patients in Trauma Service Area M as a percentage of total hospital capacity exceeds 15 percent, making it an area of high hospitalizations As a result, all restaurants, retail stores, office buildings, manufacturing facilities, gyms, exercise facilities and classes, museums and libraries in McLennan County are required to return to maximum 50 percent occupancy levels. The opt-in certification allowing bars to operate also must be decertified due to the hospitalization rate.”

Waco’s new mayor, Dillon Meek, said Monday the city “will continue to do what we have so far regarding the governor’s order.”

“If there is a complaint regarding the order then we will respond to that and work with the business owner before any citation is issued.”

Most of the bars in Waco filed for food and beverage certificates in order to continue to do business and aren’t affected by the suspension of opt-in certification, Chris Cox, the co-owner of the Backyard Bar and Grill said Monday.

“We spent a bunch of money getting our places turned from a bar into a restaurant,” he said.

Cox says other bar and restaurant owners need to abide by the new restrictions and take the virus seriously.

“This (the virus) isn’t going away unless everybody does it right,” he said.

“The people who aren’t doing it right they are just setting us back,” he said.

The Central Texas Food Bank will distribute food from 10 a.m. to noon Thursday at Waco ISD Stadium at 1401 South New Road.

Free COVID-19 test sites are in operation in the Waco area after the federal government provided 40,000 test kits to McLennan County as part of the effort to stem the spread of the virus. Additional details are available online.

The health district has contracted with Aardvark Mobile Health to provide mobile COVID-19 tests, using a small truck that can accommodate two testing lines with the capacity to administer as many as 500 tests daily. Additional details are available online.

For those experiencing disabling feelings of loss, change and sadness, short-term counseling is available through the Texans Recovering Together Crisis Counseling Program. A counselor can be requested using an online form or by calling 1-866-576-1101.

Baylor University’s online dashboard showed 78 active cases Monday, 66 involving students, seven involving staff and three involving faculty. Over the past seven days, 18 cases have been confirmed for a clinical positivity rate of 1.9%. Since Aug. 1,556 cases have been confirmed. Fall semester on-campus instruction has mostly ended. Remote instruction is scheduled on Monday and Tuesday. Spring classes begin on Jan. 19.

The McLennan Community College dashboard showed seven active cases Monday, four involving students. Over the past three weeks, 204 cases have been confirmed, 173 involving students and 31 staff.

The Waco ISD dashboard Monday showed 106 cumulative cases involving students, 117 involving staff and eight involving personnel designated as “other.” The district Monday reported one active case at Dean Highland Elementary;

The Midway ISD’s online dashboard Monday showed two active cases involving students and two involving staff at Castleman Creek Elementary; two involving students and seven involving staff at Hewitt Elementary; one involving a student and one involving a staff member at South Bosque Elementary; one involving a staff member at Speegleville Elementary; one involving a student at Spring Valley Elementary; two involving students and three involving staff at Woodway Elementary; one involving a student and one a staff member at River Valley Intermediate; nine involving students and two involving staff at Midway Middle School; 22 involving students and nine involving staff at Midway High School, and one involving an employee at a non-campus facility.

The Lorena ISD dashboard Monday showed one case involving a student and one involving an employee at Lorena Primary; one involving a student and one involving an employee at Lorena Middle; three involving students and one involving an employee at Lorena High, and one involving a staff member at an on-campus facility.

The Mart ISD’s online dashboard Monday showed one active case at Mart High School.

The McGregor ISD’s online dashboard Monday showed two active cases at McGregor Primary; three active cases at McGregor Elementary; two active cases at Isbill Junior High, and four active cases at McGregor High School.

MCLENNAN COUNTY COVID-19 DEATHS

TEXAS PUBLIC SCHOOL COVID-19 DATA

CORYELL COUNTY

Coryell County Monday reported two additional deaths, increasing the virus’ toll to 15, according to local data, and 1,309 total cases, an increase of 172 since the county’s last report on Nov. 20.

Of the total, 390 cases were active Monday and 904 patients have recovered.

State data, which include Texas Department of Criminal Justice inmates, showed 2,527 confirmed cases, 2,120 recoveries and 16 deaths.

Among the county’s most recent active cases are one involving a Copperas Cove girl who’s younger than 10; one involving a female Copperas Cove resident ranging in age from 10 to 19; two involving Copperas Cove men in their 20s; one involving a Copperas Cove woman in her 20s; two involving Copperas Cove women in their 30s; one involving a Copperas Cove man in his 30s; one involving a Copperas Cove woman in her 40s; one involving a Copperas Cove man in his 40s; one involving a Copperas Cove woman in her 50s; one involving a Copperas Cove man in his 50s; one involving a Copperas Cove woman in her 60s, and one involving a Copperas Cove man in his 70s.

The Gatesville ISD’s online dashboard Monday showed 27 active cases at Gatesville High School, 22 involving students; 12 cases at the junior high, nine involving students; nine cases at the elementary school, seven involving students; 12 cases at the primary school, four involving students, and three case involving administration staff.

The Copperas Cove ISD’s online dashboard Monday showed seven cases involving students and three involving staff at Copperas Cove High School; one involving an employee at Crossroads High School; one involving a student and two involving employees at Copperas Cove Junior High; two involving students and two involving employees at S.C., Lee Junior High; one involving an employee at Clements Parsons Elementary; one involving a student at Fairview Jewell Elementary; one involving an employee at House Creek Elementary; one involving a student at Martin Walker Elementary; six involving employees at Mae Stevens Early Learning Academy, and one involving an employee at the District Service and Training Center.

The Texas Department of Criminal Justice Monday showed 72 cases involving inmates and 30 cases involving employees at the Christina Melton Crain Unit in Gatesville where 452 inmates were on medical restriction and 74 were isolated; three cases involving employees at the Hilltop Unit in Gatesville where 40 inmates were restricted; three cases involving inmates and 12 involving employees at the Alfred D. Hughes Unit in Gatesville where 92 inmates were medically restricted and four were medically isolated; five cases involving employees at the Mountain View Unit in Gatesville; one case involving an inmate and three involving employees at the Dr. Lane Murray Unit in Gatesville where 100 inmates were restricted and five were isolated, and three cases involving inmates and four involving employees at the Linda Woodman State Jail in Gatesville where 22 inmates were restricted and three were isolated.

The Cove House Free Clinic at 806 West Avenue D, Suite H, is offering free COVID-19 testing from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tuesdays. Appointments are required and may be made by calling (254) 289-9865.

TEXAS PUBLIC SCHOOL COVID-19 DATA

FALLS COUNTY

Falls County reported 814 total cases Monday, an increase of 22 over the holiday weekend.

Of the total, 699 patients have recovered.

Fifteen have now died, according to state data.

The Texas Department of Criminal Justice Monday reported one case involving an inmate and 32 cases involving employees at the William Hobby Unit in Marlin where 79 inmates were medically restricted and one was isolated, and 41 cases involving inmates and eight involving employees at the Marlin Transfer Unit where 366 inmates were medically restricted and 41 were medically isolated.

LIMESTONE COUNTY

Limestone County reported 788 total cases Monday, an increase of nine since last Wednesday.

Of the total, 685 patients have recovered.

The virus has claimed 18 lives in the county, according to state data.

The first resident to die was a Mexia woman in her late 50s to early 60s with underlying health conditions who died on March 31 at Parkview Regional Hospital in Mexia after she was diagnosed with COVID-19.

TEXAS PUBLIC SCHOOL COVID-19 DATA

NAVARRO COUNTY

Navarro County was still reporting 1,821 confirmed cases Monday.

The county also reported 805 probable cases of the virus for a total of 2,626.

Of that number, 337 cases were active, 11 patients were hospitalized and 2,244 have recovered.

The virus has claimed 45 lives in the county, according to local data.

State data showed 38 deaths.

TEXAS PUBLIC SCHOOL COVID-19 DATA

OTHER COUNTIES

According to the latest figures Monday Bosque County was reporting 531 cases and 460 recoveries. State data based on death certificates and county of residence showed 15 deaths.

Freestone County reported a total of 515 cases Monday. Of the total 472 patients have recovered. A 13th resident has died, according to state data. The Texas Department of Criminal Justice Monday reported four cases involving employees at the William Boyd Unit in Teague.

Hamilton County reported 296 cases Monday, an increase of 13 over the long weekend. Of the total 236 patients have recovered. State data showed seven deaths in the county.

Hill County reported a total of 1,229 cases Monday, an increase of 47 since last Wednesday, and 955 recoveries. Eighteen residents have died, according to state data. The Hill College dashboard Monday showed three active cases involving staff at its Hillsboro campus. The Hillsboro ISD Monday reported three student cases at the elementary school; three student cases at the intermediate school; six student cases and one employee case at the junior high, and 14 student and two staff cases at the high school.

Lampasas County reported 395 cases Monday, an increase of 12, and 325 recoveries. An 11th resident has died. On-campus instruction at Lampasas High School has been suspended until Dec. 7. Remote learning started on Nov. 27 after 22 active cases involving students and staff were confirmed on campus.

Leon County reported 448 cases Monday, an increase of 11, and 398 recoveries. State data showed 15 deaths.

Milam County reported 643 confirmed cases Monday. Of the total, 21 cases were active, two patients were hospitalized and 613 have recovered. Nine residents have died.

Mills County reported 145 cases Monday and 102 recoveries. State data showed four deaths. The county’s first death from the virus was reported on Oct. 21.

Robertson County was reporting 535 confirmed cases Monday. Of the total, 62 cases were active and 467 patients have recovered. Six residents have died, according to local data. State data showed seven deaths. The Bremond ISD is switching to remote instruction for the remainder of the week after more than 120 students and staff were out sick Monday. And the suspension of on-campus instruction could last longer than that. “I fully expect our numbers to continue to rise so there is a good chance that we will be remote until after the Christmas break, but we will not make that call until Friday,” the post said. “We want you to be prepared. We do not have enough subs to cover classes or enough bus drivers to run routes. This is NOT what we want to do but feel like it is best for the health of our staff and students,” the post said.

San Saba County reported 311 cases Monday and 244 recoveries. Eight residents have now died, state data showed. The Texas Department of Criminal Justice reported three cases involving inmates and four involving employees at the San Saba Transfer Unit where 22 inmates were medically restricted and three were isolated.

TEXAS PUBLIC SCHOOL COVID-19 DATA

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