City council to consider disaster declaration, limiting gatherin - FOX34 Lubbock

Mayor issues disaster declaration, limits gatherings

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The City of Lubbock will go under a preventative "state of emergency" Tuesday evening after Mayor Dan Pope issued what he calls a "targeted" local disaster declaration to prevent the spread of the 2019 Wuhan novel coronavirus (COVID-19).

The disaster declaration is a governmental step that makes more resources available, which city manager Jarrett Atkinson said is a "measured" approach.

The proposed declaration prohibits any indoor or outdoor gatherings of 200 people or more in the city of Lubbock, starting at 5 p.m. Tuesday, March 17. 

The 200-person restriction does not apply to the Lubbock airport, bus stations or private or public schools. It also does not apply to residential areas or office spaces, hospitals or medical treatment facilities, or jails and detention centers. 

David Cea with the Lubbock Restaurant Association and owner of Caprock Cafe and Orlando's said the local industry is willing to do whatever it takes to keep patrons safe.

"What we cannot do is close our doors, it would devastate our industry," Cea told the council.

Curtis Jordan, who has several local restaurants, said there will be tens of thousands of jobs lost if restrictions on eateries are too severe.

The city council will reconsider the disaster declaration no later than its regularly-scheduled April 14th meeting.

Mayor Pope urged consumers to stop panic-buying and only purchase as many supplies as they need for a week, rather than a couple months at a time. He praised restaurants and grocery stores for adjusting procedure to handle supply and demand.

District 3 councilman and Mayor Pro-Tem Jeff Griffith said this is not a measure taken lightly, emphasizing it is appropriate.

"We do not want to close Lubbock up, this is not what it's about," he said. "It's about being careful."

The council voiced unanimous support for the city's disaster declaration.

There are still no confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Lubbock County.

City leaders confirmed this at its weekly health department conference Monday.

Regarding testing, Dr. Douglas Klepper, a pediatrician at Covenant Health, said every doctor's office in the county can screen patients to see if they meet the criteria for COVID-19. The primary concern will be whether the patient has traveled anywhere recently.

"Where'd you come from first, because that's how it's going to get here. It's going to come by travel," Klepper said. "We're going to ask you some screening questions of what kind of symptoms you have. Do you have fever? Have you had chills?'"

There is no vaccine for COVID-19, so he said social distancing and handwashing are the keys to preventing the spread of the illness.

The City of Lubbock Health Department has extended its hours from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. and increased staffing. Katherine Wells, the city's public health director, said if someone is diagnosed with the coronavirus, her office will conduct a contact investigation.

"If we can identify that individual that's carrying the virus, and test everybody that's around them, or monitor everybody around them, then we'll keep that virus from spreading, and that's important," Wells said.


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