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249 new COVID-19 cases reported in McLennan County; Lake Air Montessori sends students home

249 new COVID-19 cases reported in McLennan County; Lake Air Montessori sends students home

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Lake Air Montessori Covid-19 (copy)

A Lake Air Montessori official prepares remote learning materials for distribution in this April file photo. For a second time, the school has sent its on-campus students home because of COVID-19 cases.

The November wave of the COVID-19 outbreak hit a new peak Tuesday with 249 new cases reported in McLennan County, while quarantine measures shuttered another Waco Independent School District campus.

Lake Air Montessori Magnet School shifted to online-only instruction until after Nov. 30 following news that two more people on campus tested positive for the coronavirus.

“Once again, we have more than 20 employees and nearly 100 in-person students who are in quarantine following close contact with someone who tested positive or have tested positive themselves,” Principal Stephanie Tankersley wrote in an email to parents.

The school has an enrollment of 747, including 490 in-person students. Waco ISD now has more than 3,400 students who have been sent home to learn as the result of the virus and quarantine, in addition to thousands already choosing remote instruction. Other recently closed campuses include Waco High School; Tennyson, G.W. Carver and Cesar Chavez middle schools; and J.H. Hines Elementary School.

Meanwhile, Waco-McLennan County Public Health District spokesperson Kelly Craine said Tuesday’s new-case number is alarming, marking the second-highest daily positive case tally since the pandemic started in March. The case count of 249 follows counts of 88 Monday and 129 Sunday, and the seven-day rolling average for daily cases was 154 on Monday, according to the district’s COVID-19 dashboard at covidwaco.com.

“We haven’t really seen this kind of jump,” Craine said. “We’re seeing exponential growth for the third week. We’ve been talking about and now it’s coming to pass: More people have it, and more people are exposing other people. There’s no way to explain it away.”

The dashboard indicates the November wave of COVID-19 infections has surpassed the summer wave. At its height of that wave on July 2, the seven-day average of cases was 107.

Meanwhile, local hospitals were treating 69 COVID-19 patients as of Tuesday, down slightly from 72 on Monday but up from the low 50s at the beginning of the month. The health district estimated 1,207 cases remain active, more than double the number at the beginning of the month.

Local health officials, County Judge Scott Felton and new Mayor Dillon Meek will address the rising numbers during an online press conference at 1:30 p.m. Wednesday. The event can be viewed on the city cable channel or at www.wccc.tv.

Craine said social distancing, masks and clean hands are as important as ever as the pandemic intensifies.

“The conversations are ongoing, but our guidance remains the same,” Craine said. “You need to wear a mask when you’re around people. The science is clear. It not only protects everyone around you but you as well.”


 

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Managing editor

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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