BELL COUNTY, TX — Bell County Judge David Blackburn has declared a state of emergency in the county due to weather conditions.
All non-essential county offices have been closed. The operations of all three of the county's COVID-19 vaccination centers have also been canceled through the end of the week.
“Given the current and forecasted weather conditions, the rotating brown outs 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.”
This week's meeting of the Commissioners Court, which was set for Tuesday, February 16 at 9 a.m., has also been canceled. Tuesday's agenda items have been 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.”
In a press release, the county judge addressed the closure of the vaccination centers.
“Not only were we concerned about the safety of those traveling to or entering those locations,” Judge 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.”
Officials say there is currently no "reliable" timeframe for when the vaccines may 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.
Everyone who was scheduled to receive their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine at either the Sammons Community Center in Temple or the Killeen Community Center will have their appointments automatically shifted by one week.
County officials will announce the plan for shifting second dose appointments that were scheduled for the Bell County Expo Center soon. Those with appointments are encouraged to not cancel them, as those appointments are still guaranteed a dose.
County health officials are monitoring weather conditions. More closures may be necessary due to the weather.