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Bell County Judge declares state of emergency, closure on non-essential offices, vaccine centers

Non-essential county offices are now closed and the operations of all three of the county’s COVID-19 vaccination centers are canceled through the end of the week.
Credit: Luz Ortiz
Credit: Luz Ortiz

BELL COUNTY, Texas — Bell County Judge David Blackburn declared a state of emergency in the county Monday. He announced the closure of non-essential county offices and canceled the operations of all three of the county’s COVID-19 vaccination centers through the end of the week. More details here.

“Given the current and forecasted weather conditions, the rotating brownouts that ERCOT has announced, and continuing poor road conditions, I am authorizing the closure of non-essential county offices for Tuesday,” Judge Blackburn said. “We’ll assess conditions tomorrow for what we might need to do for Wednesday.”

Blackburn also canceled this week’s meeting of the Commissioners Court, which was set to convene Tuesday at 9:00 a.m. Items that were on the agenda for Tuesday’s meeting will be tabled until next week.

“Even though we are posted to conduct the meeting either in person or virtually, our internet provider has advised us that internet coverage over the next 24 to 48 hours is not going to be reliable,” Judge Blackburn said. “That being the case, it wouldn’t be prudent to try and conduct the meeting virtually.”

Inclement weather conditions also contributed to the closure of the county’s three vaccination centers.

“Not only were we concerned about the safety of those traveling to or entering those locations,” Blackburn said. “But we are also not at all confident of when we will receive this week’s shipment of Pfizer vaccine doses. In fact, we still haven’t received this week’s shipment and it was due today.” 

There is currently no reliable timeframe for when that shipment might arrive.

“Given the uncertainty of the arrival of our vaccine shipment, we thought it best to close the centers and reschedule appointments,” Judge Blackburn said.

For everyone with scheduled to receive their first doses from either the Sammons Community Center in Temple or the Killeen Community Center, their booking will automatically be shift one week. For example, a person who was scheduled to receive their first dose on Thursday, February 18, at 10:00 a.m. from the Sammons Community Center, will now be scheduled for 10:00 a.m. on Thursday, February 25 at the same time.

County officials have a plan for shifting second dose appointments scheduled at the Bell County Expo, which they hope to announce soon. However, they encourage those with booking not to cancel them, as those appointments are all still guaranteed a dose.

Bell County health officials are closely monitoring weather conditions for the rest of the week, the county said.

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