City leaders cite encouraging trends, urge continued COVID-19 pr - FOX34 Lubbock

City leaders cite encouraging trends, urge continued COVID-19 protocols

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image from news conference July 21, 2020 image from news conference July 21, 2020

There are some encouraging recent trends in COVID-19 data. To keep this moving in the right direction, Lubbock health officials and city leadership urged everyone to continue social distancing, hand washing and mask wearing while in public. Lubbock Mayor Dan Pope said case numbers are not quite where he wants them to be, but they are improving.

Click here - to watch a replay of the news conference on the FOX34 Facebook page.

"This is a marathon" public health authority Dr. Ronald Cook said, adding the virus may well last into 2021.

Dr. Cook responded to criticism of changing guidelines. He cited Dr. Anthony Fauci initially saying not to wear a mask, followed by Fauci and other members of the White House Coronavirus Task force and other local, state and federal health officials later recommending everyone to wear a mask while in public. Dr. Cook said credible data changes medical professionals' minds.

The initial goal was to make sure medical staffs had enough masks. Dr. Cook said as researchers and health professionals learned more about the new virus, they determined wearing a mask is vital to stop the spread of COVID-19. And, he said, the masks only work when worn correctly -- over the nose and mouth. He said masks are not effective if not worn over the nose or only over the chin. He also advised masks with valves are not effective at slowing the spread, though they will likely protect the wearer. These masks allow all air to exit the mask and filter air breathed in.

Dr. Cook said there is good news regarding drugs to treat symptoms and, more significantly, development of vaccines. Lab work is now being completed on potential vaccines, moving soon to clinical trials to see if they are effective at producing antibodies to fight off infection. Dr. Cook said, historically, vaccines take 10 to 15 years to develop. He said this is a global effort to develop a vaccine so quickly.

New data is showing vaping can be just as dangerous as smoking cigarettes for developing serious complications if someone contracts COVID-19, Dr. Cook said. But, he said, the good news is someone can contact their primary care physician for help quitting vaping or smoking. Also, Dr. Cook said new data suggests perhaps asthma is not quite as concerning of a pre-existing condition as earlier thought for someone to contract COVID-19. Further complicating this, he said, is not being able to determine if breathing problems are because of COVID-19 or a flare-up of asthma. 

Additionally, Dr. Cook said data from South Korea shows children and young adults age 10 to 19 can spread the virus either 48 hours before showing symptoms or without ever showing symptoms. However, he said "kids need to be in school". Dr. Cook said the goal is to keep school districts open. He said every student and every parent needs to do their part to prevent the spread of COVID-19 as schools reopen. He added school districts are working hard to create safe learning environments.

Mayor Pope said Lubbock is ahead of communities in other states around the region in its steps to safely reopen. He said the Parade of Homes, Downtown Lubbock Farmers Market and restaurants are all examples of entities taking steps to safely operate.

The mayor showed the running 14-day average of positive tests has dropped below 10 percent. It had climbed to around 15 percent a few weeks ago. City leaders earlier said the goal is to keep it below six percent. The mayor also said the updated City of Lubbock COVID-19 dashboard provides even more data, which may take some exploring. The city will soon publish videos explaining how to get to all the data.

With many Texas Tech students expected to return to Lubbock in the coming weeks, Mayor Pope said the city has ongoing dialogue with Tech administrators to keep the campus community and city safe. He said Tech has its own tasks forces focused on safety.


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