After the City of Lubbock confirmed the third case of COVID-19 on Wednesday, city officials provided more information on the case in a conference on Thursday.
“We need individuals to stay in their homes, if they're sick, or if they're under monitoring by the health department,” Katherine Wells, director of the Lubbock Health Department, said. “We've also had the report yesterday evening, about five minutes prior to the press conference starting an additional case, case number three. Our investigation today shows that that individual travels outside of the country.”
Wells said the city is concerned about exposure starting on March 12, the date of symptom onset, with additional research into whether there is additional concern for potential community spread.
Wells also took the time to explain the three levels of risk terms used when categorizing those at risk for contracting COVID-19.
HIGH - For individuals living with, or intimate partners of, or providing care of individuals with COVID-19 without using recommended precautions. Individuals fitting this description should have active, daily contact with the health department, and be restricted to home. Immediately isolate and contact the health department if symptoms arise.
MEDIUM - For individuals living with, or intimate partners of, or providing care of individuals with COVID-19 while consistently using recommended precautions. Individuals fitting this description should self-monitor for signs and symptoms, and practice social distancing. It is recommended that these individuals isolate themselves at home as much as possible. Immediately contact the health department if symptoms arise.
LOW - For individuals that share a common indoor environment with a confirmed COVID-19 case for a prolonged period of time with little to no close contact. Self-observe for potential symptoms and practice social distancing. Immediately isolate and contact the health department if symptoms arise.
“First of all, and foremost, your city is looking out for you,” Local Health Authority Dr. Douglas Klepper said. “There is no question, of the resources this city and board has gone above and beyond anything that I've ever experienced in my three-year career, your city is looking out for you. So you need to be hopeful and trust these people, these people are getting the information to you as rapidly and as quickly as possible.”
“I want to comment on a couple of things,” Mayor Dan Pope said, “and I want to start with Governor (Greg) Abbott's order from today. Many of you may have seen it, and it's important that you realize that it becomes the law of the state, because it goes into effect tomorrow night at midnight.”
The first thing Pope mentioned from the Abbott conference is that gatherings will be limited to no more than 10 people, which supersedes the previous 50 person limit set by the Lubbock City Council. All of these policies will go into effect at midnight on Friday, March 20.
Secondly, all restaurants, gyms, bars, food courts and massage parlors will no longer remain open for use. However, locations that feature drive-thru, pick-up and delivery options will still be able to utilize those.
The third takeaway that Pope mentioned is that no person shall visit nursing or retirement homes, unless it is absolutely necessary in order to provide critical assistance.
The fourth and final takeaway is that all schools will remain closed for the two week period, Pope said, which will be April 3. At that time, Governor Abbott will have the option of extending or relaxing these policies.
“We want to make sure that we underscore this, this does not mean sheltering in place,” Pope said. “You can get out and go to the grocery store, you can go to the gas station, you could go to the park like Dr. Klepper talked about. You could go check on your neighbor. Domestic travel has not been limited in any manner.”
If an individual is experiencing symptoms or has questions, Pope said they should call their primary care physician or the Lubbock Health Department at 775-2933. The city has devoted extra resources to the call lines at the health department, in order to provide as many citizens as possible with information and help.
“But if you don't have a primary care physician or if you think you've been exposed, and you have a question and it'll help you sleep better, don’t go on social media and do some kind of silly posting. Call the health department, let's help you answer your question right,” Pope said. “We don't need panic, we need facts.”