WACO, Texas – We are wrapping up a record-breaking week in Central Texas when it comes to COVID cases.

The Waco-McLennan County public Health District reported 501 new cases last Wednesday. Public Information Officer Kelly Craine says the district saw the cases increasing in August – then those numbers skyrocketed all at once.

“Yesterday, we had 197 people in the hospitals, our local hospitals. Which is another record that we haven’t seen before,” Craine said.

The Health District says the numbers are concerning, and the community needs to know the effects of not being vaccinated can lead to sickness, hospitalizations – or even death.

Craine says the number of vaccinated people has increased by five percent to 45.6 percent – but this number is still low.

“We have 71 percent of our senior population vaccinated, which is wonderful,” Craine said. “We just gotta get the rest of our county into that category to get them into those seventies. That’s going to make a huge difference.”

With several schools across Central Texas closing due to outbreaks, and even death from COVID – Craine says vaccinations and masks are essential.

“If you are an adult working in the schools, you need to protect yourself, and the best way is through vaccination,” Craine said. “That is the number one thing.”

Interim Bell County Public Health Director Nikki Morrow says 38 percent of people eligible to be vaccinated are fully vaccinated. She says the numbers of positive cases in the community is higher after the weekends when people have gathered in large settings.

Morrow said in a statement:

“The Delta variant is the most prevalent variant right now and spreads twice as fast as previous variants and with a much higher viral load in the body. Getting vaccinated has proven to decrease a person’s chances of severe illness, hospitalization and can prevent death. The majority of hospitalizations of those most severely impacted by Covid-19 are among the unvaccinated. As public health we encourage everyone eligible to get vaccinated to help mitigate further spread. For those unvaccinated or not eligible to be vaccinated, to wear a mask when in an indoor public space or crowded area in which you are unsure of your and others risks and to wash hands and practice personal hygiene measures frequently.”

“Getting that COVID vaccine is going to go a long way to protecting you,” Craine said. “To getting your family and your life back to normal.”