Lubbock Public Health Director Katherine Wells said "we can't continue to have weeks like this", citing a record number of COVID-19 cases confirmed Tuesday in Lubbock and several days with a greater number per day than Lubbock has seen in six weeks. Wells said because the majority of the new cases are among people under age 30, they are expected to fully recover. But, she said, the concern is with cases increasing, the novel coronavirus could be spread to more vulnerable populations.
Wells said data last few weeks show the importance of face coverings. She said the newer research continues to show it is one of the most effective ways to slow the spread of the virus.
Public health authority Dr. Ronald Cook said many of the younger people who recently contracted the virus are "not that symptomatic". This presents a problem because these people then go to jobs, spread it among their colleagues, which then forces the business to shut down for deep cleaning.
Dr. Cook urged social distancing and asked everyone to wear a mask in public. "It's not about you, it's about your loved ones," Dr. Cook said.
Lubbock Mayor Dan Pope said local hospitals are getting "busier", meaning there are more elective procedures being performed. "If you need to go to the hospital, go to the hospital," Pope said. He stressed, despite the increase in COVID-19 cases, the hospitals remain well below capacity.
Tuesday there were 14 patients hospitalized for COVID-19 in Lubbock; seven in ICU, seven in floor rooms.
Despite an increase in testing over the past several weeks, the percentage of tests that return a positive has steadily dropped. The percentage has increased last few days, but remains below five percent. Mayor Pope said the state's goal is to be below six percent.
"The barn is not completely on fire. We do have concerns," Mayor Pope said, saying he is not waving off anyone worried about the recent trend in an increase of case.
Pope said the vast majority of local businesses, including restaurants and bars, that have been proactive and taken needed precautions. He said several of these voluntarily closed down in recent days, out of an abundance of caution. The mayor said there were a few "bad actors" that have ignored safety protocols, forcing the city to temporarily close them.
Mayor Pope said it was a good move by the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission to notify bars that serve alcohol they could face a 30-day suspension of their liquor license if they do not enforce state guidelines.
Pope said he heard from a local restaurant operator whose clientele would not adhere to social distancing and safety protocols. Because of this, the restaurant has shut its dining room and has reverted to only curbside and delivery.