By Cassidy Pate, News Editor
Early Friday morning, the first presumptive positive case of COVID-19, or coronavirus, was identified in Belton, a press release from the Bell County Public Health District (BCPHD) said. The BCPHD is employing self-isolation protocol and contact tracing for the individual, a 29-year-old male in Belton who recently traveled to Barcelona and Paris from March 4 through March 10.
The case is undergoing confirmatory testing with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and is to be treated as positive, a statement from Bell County Judge County Emergency Management Director David Blackburn said.
In a media conference conducted by Blackburn Thursday afternoon, he revealed Bell County’s COVID-19 Action Plan.
Stage one refers to no confirmed cases and includes the following measures:
- Stay home if you are sick
- Avoid contact with persons who are sick
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unclean hands
- Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue and throw the tissue away
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces with a disinfectant
- Don’t travel to areas with active community spread of COVID-19
- Wash your hands with soap and water regularly and use hand sanitizers with at least 60 percent of alcohol content when soap and water are not available
“Maybe one of the most important things on the list is wash your hands with soap and water regularly,” Blackburn said. “Publication after publication and advice after advice has been that that is the single most effective way to mitigate the spread of this virus.”
Bell County is now in stage two which maintains all of the stage one measures and adds social distancing, or maintaining six feet of distance from other persons, and avoiding physical contact with other persons in social and workplace settings.
Stage three relates to community spread of COVID-19, upholds the measures put into place by stage one and stage two and involves the issuance of restrictions and/or prohibitions of mass gatherings and/or the movement of people by Bell County and/or BCPHD.
“Bell County and the Bell County Public Health District continue to monitor the situation; we are in daily contact with federal and state officials for situational awareness, as well as the directives and guidelines,” Blackburn said.
With that, Blackburn advised Bell County residents to remain calm and proactive during this time.
To ensure the county is informed in a timely manner, Dr. Amanda Robinson-Chadwell, BCPHD Director, said the public will be notified via social media, the BCPHD website, and a mass media email will be sent out should COVID-19 cases be confirmed.