McLennan, Bell Counties discuss COVID-19 response

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CENTRAL TEXAS – Bell County is reporting 324 confirmed COVID-19 cases, with 184 recoveries and three deaths. Neighboring McLennan County is reporting a lower number of 117 cases, with 95 recoveries and four deaths.

As the numbers show, Bell County has nearly triple the number of cases than McLennan County.

Waco Mayor Kyle Deaver credits the lower number to the way which the community has reacted. Bell County on the other hand, says there are a number of factors to why their number is much higher.

“McLennan County is not as population dense as we are, so that’s probably a contributing factor,” said Dr. Amanda Chadwell, with the Bell County Public Health District during a press conference Thursday afternoon.

“I think there just has been a lot of things that have happened that are great things, that our community members have done to help us keep it low, and we are very, very fortunate,” said Waco Mayor Kyle Deaver during a separate press conference Thursday morning.

Although McLennan County is seeing a relatively flat curve of confirmed COVID-19 cases, a big problem still plaguing the community is the delay of test results.

“The thing that concerns me the most is the lag in time that the tests are coming back. And, you know, we are reaching out statewide to try to get that improved. I think we’ve just moved faster than the labs can handle it in testing, but they are going to have to catch up,” said McLennan County Judge Scott Felton.

Bell County received over 1,000 collection testing kits from the state on Wednesday, but they say because they don’t know the turnaround time, they are choosing to go a different route.

“We have re-engaged discussions with local health care provider Baylor Scott and White to see if they can locally source the collection kits and do the testing for us. That looks to be the way that we will be going,” said Bell County Judge David Blackburn.

Right now, Bell County is testing all of its jail staff after one correctional officer tested positive for the virus.

“We’re not testing inmates at this time. Part of the reason for that is that the inmates go through a health screening before they come in to the jail,” added Judge Blackburn.

They have completed 128 tests, and still have 108 to go.

On Thursday, McLennan County Commissioners voted to extend the State of Disaster Declaration until July 7th. You can read the entire order HERE.

To those feeling discouraged with no end in sight, Dr. Jackson Griggs in McLennan County says right now we are in an “anger-resentment” stage. He says it’s important to remember that we didn’t choose to walk that fine line between economic thriving and protecting our health, reminding us all to hang on tight, we will get through this.

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