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Central Texas COVID: Active cases rise, vaccination rates don’t, masks remain optional

Published: Jul. 21, 2021 at 6:49 PM CDT
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(KWTX) – KWTX was interviewing McLennan County Health Authority Dr. Farley Verner Wednesday when news broke that Gov. Greg Abbott will not impose a mask mandate as the Delta variant of COVID-19 fuels an increase in cases of the virus in Central Texas where not quite 36% of residents 12 and older are fully vaccinated.

“Vaccines are effective and masks are effective and the use of both is still strongly encouraged,” Verner said.

In McLennan County, though, almost 60% of eligible residents are not fully vaccinated.

“Our vaccination rate is low. We are 10% behind the state and 20% behind the country, I’m concerned about continued increase in cases over the next month, two months,” Verner said Wednesday morning.

Those who are fully vaccinated don’t necessarily need to wear masks, he said.

But those who aren’t fully vaccinated do.

“Unfortunately, we need to promote the use of masks to the people who are least likely to wear a mask,” Dr. Verner said.

“We are seeing an increase in cases again,” he said.

“Certainly not a surge like previously but that increase in cases that has happened recently can be blamed on the Delta variant,” Verner said.

Abbott told KPRC in Houston it would be “inappropriate to require people who already have immunity to wear a mask.”

“There are so many people who have immunities to COVID, whether it be through the vaccination, whether it be through their own exposure and their recovery from it, which would be acquired immunity,” he said.

More than 2.9 million of the state’s more than 29 million residents have contracted and recovered from the virus since the start of the pandemic and more than 14.4 million eligible residents are fully vaccinated.

Statewide Wednesday, almost 60% of residents 12 and older have received one dose of vaccine and almost 36% were fully vaccinated, according to Department of State Health Services data.

In the 16 Central Texas counties KWTX is monitoring, just more than 41% of residents 12 and older have received one dose and almost 36% are fully vaccinated.

In Bell County, more than 38% of residents 12 and older have received one dose and 33% are fully vaccinated.

In McLennan County, more than 47% of residents 12 and older have received one dose and almost 41% are fully vaccinated.

The percentage of residents 12 and older who were fully vaccinated Wednesday stood at more than 38% in Bosque County; almost 31% in Coryell County; more than 35% in Falls County; more than 31% in Freestone County; almost 41% in Hamilton County; more than 34% in Hill County; more than 35% in Lampasas County; almost 33% in Leon County; more than 31% in Limestone County; almost 38% in Milam County; more than 35% in Mills County; more than 39% in Navarro County; more than 37% in Robertson County, and 29% in San Saba County.

The rising number of active cases of the virus has prompted area health officials to reemphasize vaccination.

COVID-19 vaccinations will be available from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. every Thursday for the next four weeks starting this Thursday at the 7th Street Pedestrian Plaza in downtown Waco as part of the Civic on the 7th performing arts series.

Advance registration is not required.

In Lampasas County, with more than 60 active case of the virus, AdventHealth Rural Health Clinic is offering free vaccines to residents 18 and older.

Call (512) 556-3621 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday to make an appointment.

An ID and proof of insurance are required and those seeking second doses should also bring vaccination cards.

The weekly vaccination clinic will continue as long as vaccine is available.

NEW CASES, ADDITIONAL DEATHS

The number of active COVID-19 cases in Central Texas increased to 1,610 Wednesday and the Department of State Health Services reported another 3,600 active cases, raising the statewide total to more than 44,000.

Since the start of the pandemic, 2,584,324 cases of the virus have been confirmed in Texas and almost 81,400 have been confirmed in Central Texas.

More than 3,560 patients diagnosed with the virus were hospitalized statewide Wednesday, about 250 more than on Tuesday.

In Trauma Service Area L, which includes Bell, Coryell, Hamilton, Lampasas, Milam, and Mills County, 86 patients diagnosed with the virus were hospitalized Wednesday, filling about 8% of available beds and representing about 9.5% of all patients hospitalized.

In Trauma Service Area M, which includes Bosque, Falls, Hill, Limestone and McLennan counties 35 patients with COVID-19 were hospitalized, filling more than 5% of available beds and representing about 6% of all hospitalizations.

The statewide death toll rose by 33 Wednesday to 51,709.

In Central Texas, the virus’ toll may be as high as 1,757, but according to state data Wednesday, the count stood at 1,740 including 457 Bell County residents, 13 fewer that the local count of 470; 37 Bosque County residents; 89 Coryell County residents; 33 Falls County residents; 50 Freestone County residents; 29 Hamilton County residents; 111 Hill County residents; 33 Lampasas County residents; 43 Leon County residents; 81 Limestone County residents; 489 McLennan County residents, 22 more than the local count of 467; 51 Milam County residents; 21 Mills County residents; 146 Navarro County residents, four fewer than the local count of 150; 47 Robertson County residents, and 23 San Saba County residents.

The statewide molecular test positivity rate rose from 11.08% Tuesday to 11.93% Wednesday.

Experts say a positivity rate of 5% or less indicates the virus is controlled.

VACCINE INFORMATION AND RESOURCES

COVID-19 INFORMATION, LINKS AND RESOURCES

BELL COUNTY

The Bell County Health District reported 76 additional cases of the virus Wednesday, raising the county’s total to 23,584.

Of the total, 22,566 residents have recovered and 470 have died, local data showed.

Health district data showed 548 active cases Wednesday, 36 more than on Tuesday.

DSHS data, which includes Fort Hood personnel who live on post, showed 961 active cases Wednesday, an increase of 43.

State data showed 23,506 confirmed cases and 2,479 probable cases Wednesday.

At least 24,567 residents diagnosed with the virus have recovered, state data showed, and 457have died, an increase of three.

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

VACCINE INFORMATION AND RESOURCES

BELL COUNTY COVID-19 DEATHS

TEXAS PUBLIC SCHOOL COVID-19 DATA

MCLENNAN COUNTY

The Waco-McLennan County Health District discontinued daily case reporting and is instead reporting COVID-19 cases on a weekly basis.

The health district’s latest update showed 28,132 total cases, at least 158 of which were active.

AT least 27,507 residents diagnosed with the virus have recovered.

Local data showed 467 deaths.

DSHS data Wednesday showed 489 residents diagnosed with the virus have died.

COVID-19 testing provided by the Waco-McLennan County Health District and the Waco-McLennan County Office of Emergency Management has ended. Providers throughout the county including clinics and pharmacies still offer COVID-19 testing. The DSHS test location finder is a resource.

Baylor University’s online dashboard showed four active cases involving students, two involving staff members and one involving a contractor Wednesday and a total of 4,022 cases since Aug. 1, 2020. Baylor is requiring weekly COVID-19 testing of students, faculty, and staff through the summer. The university will not require students, faculty, and staff to be vaccinated against the virus this fall but is strongly encouraging everyone to get vaccinated. As of Tuesday, almost 40% of students and almost 61% of employees had been vaccinated. The university plans to operate at 100% capacity indoors and outdoors and to return to in-person instruction without social distancing this fall. Face masks are no longer required on campus, but the school recommends those who aren’t vaccinated wear face coverings indoors.

The McLennan Community College dashboard showed no active cases Wednesday and a cumulative total of 369 cases, 286 involving students.

The Central Texas Food Bank will distribute food from 10 a.m. to noon on Thursday at Waco ISD Stadium at 1401 South New Road. This will be the last COVID-19 response mass distribution event in the city.

VACCINE INFORMATION AND RESOURCES

MCLENNAN COUNTY COVID-19 DEATHS

TEXAS PUBLIC SCHOOL COVID-19 DATA

CORYELL COUNTY

Coryell County had 7,162 total confirmed cases Wednesday, an increase of 18, and 307 total probable cases.

The number of active cases in the county increased by 21 to 91 Wednesday.

At least 7,289 residents diagnosed with the virus have recovered and 89 have died.

The Texas Department of Criminal Justice Wednesday was reporting one case involving an inmate and three cases involving employees at the Christina Melton Crain Unit where one inmate was isolated; two cases involving employees at the Hilltop Unit; one case involving an inmate and five cases involving employees at the Alfred D. Hughes Unit, where two inmates were isolated; one active case involving an employee at the Mountain View Unit; one case involving an employee at the Dr. Lane Murray Unit, one case involving in inmate and three involving employees at the Linda Woodman State Jail one inmate was restricted and one was isolated.

TEXAS PUBLIC SCHOOL COVID-19 DATA

FALLS COUNTY

Falls County had 1,895 total confirmed and 202 total probable cases of the virus Wednesday.

State data showed no active cases in the county.

At least 2,068 residents diagnosed with the virus have recovered and 33 have died.

The Texas Department of Criminal Justice Wednesday was reporting no active cases at either the William Hobby Unit or the Marlin Transfer Unit.

TEXAS PUBLIC SCHOOL COVID-19 DATA

LIMESTONE COUNTY

Limestone County had 2,210 total confirmed and 679 total probable cases of the virus Wednesday.

The number of active cases in the county rose by eight to 58.

At least 2,750 residents diagnosed the virus have recovered and an 81st has died.

TEXAS PUBLIC SCHOOL COVID-19 DATA

NAVARRO COUNTY

Navarro County had 3,519 total confirmed and 2,493 total probable cases Wednesday.

At least 5,802 residents diagnosed with the virus have recovered.

Local data showed 150 deaths.

The state reported 146.

At least 64 cases were active Wednesday.

TEXAS PUBLIC SCHOOL COVID-19 DATA

OTHER COUNTIES

Bosque County had 1,405 total confirmed and 317 probable cases of the virus Wednesday. Of the total, 1,661 residents have recovered and 37 have died, according to state data. Twenty-four cases were active Wednesday.

Freestone County had 1,126 total confirmed and 874 total probable cases Wednesday. At least 1,930 residents have recovered and 50 have died according to state data. At least 20 cases were active Wednesday. The Texas Department of Criminal Justice Wednesday was reporting one case involving an employee at the William Boyd Unit in Teague.

Hamilton County had 764 total confirmed and 62 probable cases of the virus Wednesday. At least 774 residents have recovered and 29 have died, according to state data. Twenty-three cases were active Wednesday.

Hill County Wednesday had 3,857 total confirmed cases and 750 probable cases. At least 4,456 residents diagnosed with the virus have recovered, and 111 residents have died, according to state data. At least 40 cases were active Wednesday.

Lampasas County had 1,928 total confirmed and 360 probable cases Wednesday. At least 2,192 residents diagnosed with the virus have recovered, and 33 residents have died, according to state data. At least 63 cases were active Wednesday.

Leon County had 1,300 total confirmed and 376 total probable cases Wednesday. At least 1,611 residents diagnosed with the virus have recovered, and 43 have died, according to state data. At least 22 cases were active Wednesday.

Milam County had 1,527 total confirmed and 1,105 total probable cases Wednesday. At least 2,602 residents have recovered and 51 have died. Thirty cases were active Wednesday.

Mills County had 598 confirmed and 64 probable cases of the virus Wednesday. At least 639 patients have recovered and 21 have died, according to state data. Two cases were active Wednesday.

Robertson County had 1,856 total confirmed cases Wednesday and 440 total probable cases. At least 2,199 residents diagnosed with the virus have recovered, and 47 have died, according to state data. At least 50 cases were active Wednesday.

San Saba County had 524 total confirmed cases Wednesday and 261 total probable cases. At least 758 residents have recovered and 23 have died, according to state data, which showed four active cases Wednesday. The Texas Department of Criminal Justice Wednesday was reporting two cases involving employees at the San Saba Transfer Facility.

VACCINE INFORMATION AND RESOURCES

TEXAS PUBLIC SCHOOL COVID-19 DATA

COVID-19 INFORMATION, LINKS AND RESOURCES

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