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Four more COVID-19 cases in McLennan County raise vigilance
MclenNAn cOuNTY

Four more COVID-19 cases in McLennan County raise vigilance

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Texas National Guard workers collect samples at a drive-thru COVID-19 testing event held May 8 at Waco Fire Station No. 5, assisting the Texas Division of Emergency Management. Results from the tests have not been reported nearly two weeks later.

Local health authorities cautioned against complacency Thursday after reporting another four COVID-19 cases in McLennan County, the same number as Wednesday.

The eight cases reported over two days represent an uptick after a lull in cases over the past few weeks. Before Wednesday, only 10 new cases had been reported this month, and the last day with more than three cases was April 7.

“We wouldn’t call it a pattern yet, but this is why we do daily case monitoring counts,” Waco-McLennan County Public Health District spokeswoman Kelly Craine said. “For the public, the takeaway is that the virus is still here and circulating.”

She said none of the eight cases reported Wednesday and Thursday are thought to be related to each other, and all are considered to be “community spread” rather than originating outside the county. Each of the cases will be investigated through contact tracing methods.

No cases have been reported in McLennan County senior care facilities or jails, Craine said.

As of Thursday, the county had 106 cases, with 12 active, 90 patients recovered and none remaining hospitalized.

Within the county, 5,919 tests had been completed. However, Craine said the health district is still waiting to hear about 268 tests that were administered in free drive-thru test clinics the Texas Division of Emergency Management and Texas National Guard held May 8 in Bellmead and Waco, and on May 15 in West.

She said the health district has learned that the tests are being processed at a lab at the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston. A spokesman from the Texas Division of Emergency Management did not return calls from the Tribune-Herald this week.

Meanwhile, health authorities in neighboring Bell County reported 11 new cases Thursday, the second-highest daily case number after Wednesday’s count of 15.

Statewide, 945 new cases were reported Thursday, bringing the cumulative total to 52,268 since the beginning of March. Twenty-one deaths were reported Thursday, bringing the state total to 1,440.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s orders in recent weeks have gradually reopened Texas facilities that were closed or severely restricted in late March. Bars, bowling alleys and aquariums may reopen with limited capacity starting Friday, and restaurants may start operating at 50% capacity, up from the standard of 25% allowed as of May 1.

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J.B. Smith is the the Tribune-Herald managing editor. A native of Sulphur Springs, he attended Southwestern University and joined the Tribune-Herald in 1997. He and his wife, Bethany, live in Waco and have two children.

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