Community-spread COVID cases still pose high risk

The City of Lubbock hosted a news conference on May 11 to provide an update on cases of COVID-19

LUBBOCK, Texas (KCBD) - Though the number of active cases and new daily cases continues to decrease, those inside the City of Lubbock say the spread of COVID-19 still poses a great risk.

During a Monday news conference the Director of Public Health, Katherine Wells, said it was also still too early to see if opening businesses has also caused more virus spread throughout Lubbock. If there is an increase in cases, the city would start to see case numbers rise throughout this week.

“However, it will be a few weeks before the department has enough data to show if the Lubbock community can keep our numbers down with these changes,” Wells said.

The biggest issue visible to the department is community-spread cases.

Only one of the last seven COVID deaths in Lubbock County were in nursing home residents, Wells said. The latest of the 49 death cases were either infected by an asymptomatic person, a home caretaker or a family member.

The use of face masks in public continues to be emphasized by those in city hall. Though the city has no plans to make face masks mandatory, it still encourages anyone who goes out into any public space to wear one.

“We’re not asking people to eat broccoli," Randy Christian, Lubbock city councilman, said. "We’re asking people to wear a mask where appropriate.”

Dan Pope, the Lubbock mayor, also said most businesses that have re-opened within the last two weeks are following in the safety guidelines recommended by the city’s Lubbock Safe! As of now, more than 600 businesses in the city have signed up for the program.

There are also discussions that will take place on Tuesday during a city council work session on the impact the closures of some businesses have had on sale taxes. In past meetings, it was reported there was a 5 percent drop in sale tax revenue compared to the city’s forecast of a 10 percent drop in revenue.

Lubbock is also seeking more emergency funds from the state through the CARES act, Pope said. More than $11 billion in funds passed through that piece of legislation was given to Texas.

Of that money, the only cities that had that money hard-wired to them were those with a population of more than half a million people. Money that was supposed to go to cities Lubbock-sized is still in the governor’s office waiting for distribution.

“Our letter encouraged the governor to give us our money," Pope said. "That money can be used for grants to businesses, it can be used for testing, for public health, it can be used for many of the items that we are involved in today.”

The city will also update a disaster declaration during it’s Tuesday city council meeting. No big changes are anticipated and most of the updates will be in accordance with guidelines set by Gov. Greg Abbott.

It is anticipated that for Lubbock, COVID is probably not going away anytime soon. Those in city hall encourage residents to continue to socially distance themselves and go out in public in a safe way.

“Part of the strategy of attacking this virus is making certain this remains top of mind for our citizens,” Pope said.

Copyright 2020 KCBD. All rights reserved.