'Wear your damn mask': City leaders urge action to slow COVID-19 - FOX34 Lubbock

'Wear your damn mask': City leaders urge action to slow COVID-19

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Lubbock has re-opened and will stay open, Mayor Dan Pope said at the city's weekly news conference Wednesday, urging everyone to take it seriously. 

"We can safely and sensibly live our lives," highlighting that months into the pandemic less than one percent of the city's population has contracted the virus. 

Click here - for detailed data on the city's COVID-19 dashboard.
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"COVID-19 is not taking the summer off." Pope said "we must coexist" with the virus.

Don't expect a local mask requirement. "We're not gonna mandate something that is unenforceable," Pope said, saying the governor's order makes it impossible for local governments to enforce. He placed the importance on everyone taking personal responsibility. "Wear your damn mask," Mayor Pope said. 

After Lubbock reported a record number of new cases of COVID-19 Tuesday, public health director Katherine Wells said her department expects to report at least 100 cases Wednesday. Earlier in the pandemic the positive rate of tests was below 3.5 percent. Mayor Pope said with about 6,000 tests conducted in the last week, 9.9 percent of tests were positive. It's a mix of good and bad news, he said. 

"The good is the increased testing," Pope said. "The bad is, we want that rate to go down. We believe it will over time."

People in their 20s are driving the increase, many of these cases spread at bars and social settings. 64 percent of all cases reported last two weeks are in age group 20 to 29. But Wells said the spike is not exclusive to this age group. There has been an increase in cases in office environments.

Wells said facial coverings, social distancing and washing hands are just as important at work as while shopping. She asked managers to allow employees to stay home if they feel sick.

Public health authority Dr. Ronald Cook said it is concerning that hospital cases are also increasing. As of Tuesday, 29 people in Lubbock were hospitalized for COVID-19 according to the city. 10 of these patients were in the ICU. This is a lower hospitalization count locally than in April.

Dr. Cook said some people are referencing and encouraging herd immunity. But he said this would require many more people contracting the virus, likely between 70 and 90 percent of a community.

"When enough individuals in a population have been exposed, gotten sick, then recovered and now have immunity," Dr. Cook said.

Dr. Cook referenced a study released the in the last week on how Sweden used a more relaxed approach to restrictions and did not shut down. Dr. Cook said only about six percent of the Swedish population has immunity, far from the full "herd". Dr. Cook said a second wave could still infect much of Sweden.

Dr. Cook said another way to achieve herd immunity is through a vaccine, but one is at least months away. It is also not known if a vaccine would need to be administered once or twice in a lifetime, like for the chicken pox, or if it would be administered annually like a flu shot, which, of course, does not guarantee someone will not catch the flu in that year.

"Don't count on herd immunity," Dr. Cook urged. He said many people will likely do well and recover from the coronavirus. But this person could spread it to a loved one who will not recover well. "In fact, some of them may die."

Dr. Cook said resistance to wearing masks is similar to the resistance decades ago to wearing seat belts in vehicles. "We know that masks and social distancing saves lives."

Mayor Pope said in his most recent visit with leadership of UMC and Covenant Health, they reported the hospitals are in good shape. As has been the case throughout the pandemic, there remain several hundred available hospital beds. The mayor said he wants anyone who needs a medical procedure to get it and not delay because of concerns over the coronavirus. 

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