BELL COUNTY, Texas – UPDATE: There is now a third confirmed case of COVID-19 in Temple, according to the Bell County Public Health District.
This brings the Bell County total to six confirmed cases – three in Temple, one in Killeen, one in Belton, and one in another part of the county.
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Judge David Blackburn has announced a state of disaster for all of Bell County.
The Public Health District has announced there are now five cases of COVID-19 in Bell County. The declaration of a local state of disaster moves Bell County into Phase 3 of the COVID-19 plan which will “limit movement within the county.”
Belton mayor Marion Grayson is pleading with residents to take the virus seriously.
“I will be honest; in the beginning, I didn’t think this was as bad as it is, I was wondering why we were making such a big deal out of it,” Grayson said. “But I’m telling you now: let’s pay attention. The main thing we need to be working on is the distancing and staying away from each other so we limit the number of people that can get exposed.”
Events of 50 or more people have been prohibited within the county. Like Waco, it will close non-delivery restaurants, bars, gyms, and health centers for at least the next week.
This can be detrimental to local small businesses.
“Do trade with your small businesses. It is very important at this time that we don’t lose our small businesses. They are going to suffer very much from this, especially the restaurants,” Grayson said. “They need your business so call in those orders, pick up curbside, do what you can to keep those people employed.”
After the Killeen Independent School District was adamant about starting school again next Monday (March 23), they have decided to keep their doors closed until at least March 28.
Killeen ISD will also be implementing an alternative learning program, likely online, starting “early next week”. Killeen ISD superintendent Dr. John Craft is confident they will be able to finish the school year however possible.
“We’re working hard. We’re here, we want to support our students and our families, this is just a challenging time,” Craft said. “Please, remain calm, know that we are here to support, and together we’ll get through this. I firmly believe that we are going to get through COVID-19.”
Temple ISD announces they will stick to the same dates as Killeen, and will start their online program March 24. Temple City Mayor Tim Davis announces that water to city residents will not be cut off due to late payments.
The county says they will re-assess the state of emergency next week.
Source: Bell County Public Health District