LUBBOCK, Texas (KCBD) - City officials and hospital administrators expressed serious concerns about hospital capacity and social gatherings at Lubbock’s Virtual Town Hall on Wednesday night.
The city scaled back business occupancy on Monday after our trauma service area hit over 15% hospitalization for seven days straight. Bars were closed and businesses were reduced to 50% capacity, down from 75%.
Wednesday was day 10 with over 15% of hospital patients being treated for COVID-19. Our hospitalization rate was 19.97% on Wednesday afternoon.
Mayor Dan Pope said the city will not be approving outdoor gatherings of more than 10 people and citizens can expect to see stepped up enforcement efforts from public health and law enforcement.
Pope said COVID is spreading at social events like birthday parties and family gatherings and we can fight the spread with “common sense.”
Dr. Tedd Mitchell blamed “COVID fatigue” for the recent surge of cases. Dr. Mitchell, Judge Parrish, and Mayor Pope all encouraged citizens to stay vigilant, keep wearing masks, and to maintain social distancing.
Hospital administrators are worried about maintaining levels of care if these numbers continue to rise, citing fatigue and infection rates among hospital staff, particularly as we head into the winter months.
Covenant administrators are considering using a wing of the Children’s Hospital for non-COVID patients to free up more beds in the their main facility.
UMC says their biggest problem is not beds, but staffing, as more health care workers are out due to the virus. UMC is cutting back on elective cases with OR volume down 35%.
Dr. Ron Cook says Lubbock has already requested extra help, but that statewide resource is “getting thin” as nurses are needed in El Paso.
Covenant has received 18 nurses from the state, UMC is still waiting to receive the help they requested. Dr. Mike Ragain said the hospitals have sufficient Personal Protective Equipment.
Judge Parrish said hospital capacity is not simply based on number of beds, but by the number of nurses available to staff those beds. Parrish said the real problem with hospital capacity is a shortage of nurses in our 22-county Trauma Service Region.
“If we want to raise hospital capacity, let’s make sure our doctors and nurses are safe,” Parrish said.
Dr. Mike Ragain said many people needing treatment are being sent outside the county and outside the state because the hospital is full. Ragain said 97% of their patients come from our 22-county region, not from outside our area.
Steve Massengale confirmed gyms have also been rolled back to 50% capacity.
Dr. Ron Cook confirmed that businesses are required to inform other employees if someone tests positive for COVID-19.
Katherine Wells said there has been a shortage of testing machines but they are prioritizing testing at schools and nursing homes.
Eddie McBride with the Lubbock Chamber of Commerce said business revenue is down 20% or more across the area, and some have seen additional shortfalls of 20% or more now that capacity has been pulled back. Lubbock saw a 30% drop in consumer spending from March through June.
All the panelists encouraged citizens to wear masks, remember social distancing, scale back social gatherings and do what they can to reduce the spread in our area.