City update: Walgreens to offer Lubbock drive-thru testing, hosp - FOX34 Lubbock

City update: Walgreens to offer Lubbock drive-thru testing, hospitals able to handle demand

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"We must do our part" to slow the spread of COVID-19, public health authority Dr. Ronald Cook said Thursday. He pointed to the same message of social distancing, hand washing and wearing masks in public.

Dr. Cook said it will take two to three weeks for hospitalizations to fall. Wednesday's daily COVID-19 report showed 98 people hospitalized for COVID-19, the most since the pandemic started. 43 of these are ICU patients.


image from City of Lubbock

Dr. Cook made it clear the available hospital beds reported each day, which is the orange line above with more than 350 beds Wednesday, is not just for COVID-19 patients. Because Lubbock serves a wide region for medical care, Dr. Cook said spots must be saved for traumas, burns, heart attacks, strokes and other serious medical incidents. "We can't afford to let those fill up with COVID patients." Dr. Cook said hospitals in the Permian Basin are near capacity, so some patients are being sent to Lubbock for treatment.

Lubbock Mayor Dan Pope said local hospital leaders are confident they will be able to handle the increase in COVID patients while continuing regular hospital operations. The mayor also said, while he can't speculate on hypothetical outcomes, he does not support a return to lockdown. Pope has stressed for months the importance of making common-sense decisions, including wearing a mask in public, to slow the spread of the virus so the economy can continue to recover and businesses don't have to close.

Case counts

Questioned about even some doctors who have said there are various models to include the number of people who have the coronavirus, Public Health Director Katherine Wells said Lubbock is not using this approach. Wells said every case reported is a lab-confirmed positive COVID-19 test. Wells said her department does not include presumptive positives or antibody tests.

Mayor Dan Pope said the daily rolling average for positive tests is now nearly 15 percent. Pope said city leaders wanted to keep it below six percent and it was around 3.5 percent over a month ago. The cumulative positive rate for the city is around 6.9 percent, Pope said. Governor Abbott has marked 10 percent as a red flag benchmark; as of Monday, the statewide rate of positive tests since mid-June climbed to around 13.5 percent.

Dr. Cook said he has seen a lot of social media posts regarding COVID-19 cures including yogurt, vitamins, inhaled steroids or other solutions. "There is no cure, no drug" that doctors can administer to stop the virus, Cook said. "Absolutely none". 

Dr. Cook said physicians use evidence-based decisions. He said the one drug widely used now, Remdesivir, does not cure, nor does it decrease mortality. He said it shortens recovery time. Very sick patients may be sick for months.

Asymptomatic Cases

Wells said there aren't many asymptomatic people among confirmed cases in Lubbock. What is more common is people who do not initially have symptoms and get tested because of an exposure. They then develop symptoms in a few days. Wells said there is research suggesting people are most infectious before the onset of symptoms. 

Public gatherings

Councilman and Lubbock Economic Recovery Task Force co-chairman Steve Massengale said 922 businesses have signed up for Lubbock Safe!.

Massengale said anyone or any organization wanting to host an outdoor gathering of 10 to 49 people will be able to access a PDF to request approval. The form should be up by Friday at . Massengale said they hope to approve all these requests. Under Governor Abbott's latest executive order, any outdoor gatherings of 10 or more are banned unless approved by a mayor or county judge. Lubbock County Judge Curtis Parrish earlier approved such gatherings in unincorporated areas of Lubbock County. 

New testing site

Walgreens will begin a drive-thru testing facility, at no cost to the public, at the location at Sixth Street and Avenue Q. The testing is expected to be operational Friday.

No tickets issued

Mayor Pope said the city has not written any tickets or written warnings to people not following the governor's mask order. The city and Lubbock Chamber of Commerce distributed 120,000 masks to local businesses, at no cost to the business. The mayor said every day roughly five to 10 calls are received on the police non-emergency line reporting either restaurants not following guidelines or violations near pools. "I think our people have been very responsive".

"We take this very seriously," Pope said. There have been some reports of managers or employers wanting employees to return to work when they are showing symptoms. The mayor said city leaders want to talk to these businesses owners, to address the seriousness of it. He said there have been limited situations with infected citizens going back to work, as well as people reporting businesses that did not have any violations or sick people.

If anyone believes there is a violation or a business not following protocol, they should call the city's health department. 




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