Lubbock COVID-19 testing above state, hospitalizations below sta - FOX34 Lubbock

Lubbock COVID-19 testing above state, hospitalizations below state rate

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screen grab of webinar news conference Monday screen grab of webinar news conference Monday
LUBBOCK -

Lubbock is testing for COVID-19, per capita, at about twice the rate of the rest of Texas. And, Lubbock Mayor Dan Pope said Monday, the positive results from those tests remains lower than the rest of the state. Also, the hospitalization rate is lower than across Texas. Pope said we are "fortunate to have robust testing".

The mayor said he feels good about the hospitalization rate. 

Lubbock health director Katherine Wells says precautions, including the mayor's disaster declaration and stay-at-home order, have been effective.

"We want the public to continue to stay at home. This is working," Wells said. "We are seeing our numbers level off."

Wells said the city continues to advise anyone in public to wear a face covering. Through Sunday the city has confirmed 430 COVID-19 cases among the county's residents. Of these 430 people who have been tested and received a positive, there are 291 active cases, 107 recoveries and 32 deaths. A majority of these deaths are associated with Whisperwood nursing home and rehabilitation center.

Out of all tests performed in Lubbock, the trend remains with about 10 percent of those tests returning a positive.

Testing grew about 45 percent in Lubbock last week, with more than 4,700 tests performed over the past several weeks. 

Mayor Pope said there will be another drive-through clinic that opens this week, at the Wal-Mart at 114th Street and Quaker Avenue. This is in addition to the UMC and Covenant Health drive-through clinics. There are many locations tests are performed around the area. Pope said Covenant Health is now testing at its clinics and regional hospitals.

The city will soon provide additional data on cases, including zip code and race. The city provides several other metrics on its COVID-19 dashboard.

Dr. Ronald Cook, D.O., public health authority, urged everyone to continue washing hands frequently, social distancing and wearing face masks.

Dr. Cook couldn't state whether Lubbock has passed its peak, but said there are positive signs. He said models projecting cases and hospitalizations are difficult to use because Lubbock's population density is lower than many major cities. Thus far, he said hospitalizations locally are below those projections.

Lubbock Fire Chief Shaun Fogerson said first responders have adjusted protocol to limit potential exposure to someone who may have COVID-19. First responders are wearing full personal protective equipment, or PPE, on all medical calls. EMS teams ask a checklist on medical calls to gauge if a person may have COVID-19, with one person asking the questions to limit exposure.

Also on fire calls, Fogerson said crews assume everyone they come in contact with has COVID-19, to take proper precautions. 

Fogerson said, more than a month ago, the department has put a strict no-visitor policy at all fire stations. Every member of the department adheres to a checklist to monitor for any potential symptoms. And there are regular, comprehensive steps to clean and disinfect facilities and fire engines and trucks.

When asked why he participated in the rolling procession Saturday that was originally promoted as a mock funeral for small businesses, Mayor Pope said there wasn't much discussion with participants because everyone stayed in their vehicles and practiced social distancing. "I'm a small business person myself. I want to get our small businesses open to customers coming in their doors as soon as possible.

"When they invited me to be part of that event, the parade on Saturday, I said 'yes'. I was glad to be able to join them. 

"We've got to get our retail businesses open. We're going to do that as quickly as possible, while balancing the safety of our citizens. And that's my committment, that's been my commitment all along."

Following Governor Abbott's order to strategically re-open the state, Pope said "we're glad the governor caught up with us. We've been at what we call curbside retail from day one. Our non-essential retail was never closed in that regard. We've encouraged them to do business online, via the phone and delivering it curbside or delivering to a  customer's home."

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