Lubbock officials give update prior to reopening businesses

Testing efforts, health precautions and the Lubbock Safe Program all were topics addressed during a virtual news conference with city officials Thursday.

With businesses reopening Friday, one may wonder about the current state of cases within Lubbock County.

Katherine Wells, director of the Lubbock Health Department, said a total of 507 COVID-19 cases have been reported in Lubbock County as of Wednesday. The number of new daily cases remain steady.

With no related deaths reported Wednesday, Wells said the county has a seen a total of 43 related fatalities, a majority which come from local nursing homes.

Over the last week, Wells said two health department initiatives were put into place: the new testing site located at the Patterson Library at 1836 Parkway Drive and an infection control strike team.

“With the help of medical students at Texas Tech the health department is reaching out to all of our assisted-living centers and nursing homes to conduct infection control assessments,” she said. “The assessments are done to identify gaps that may allow COVID-19 to enter a facility.”

The strike team will work with the assessed facility to address any gaps, Wells said. The team has conducted five assessments, and more assessments are scheduled next week.

Regardless of plans in place for more testing and preventive measures, Dr. Ronald Cook, local health authority, said as businesses reopen in Lubbock, no one should let their guard down. People need to continue to practice social distancing, wear face coverings and stay home if they are ill.

For those dealing with mental strain, Cook said one can call 211 or StarCare Lubbock at 806-740-1414 for mental health services.

Regardless, Lubbock Mayor Dan Pope said he is excited to be able to send people back to work Friday. Although, people’s health and safety still is the top priority.

“In fact, if you read [Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s Executive Order GA-18], it’s very clear about that,” he said regarding the need to stay home as much as possible. “If you read [President Donald Trump’s] order, it says the same. [The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s] guidelines remain very clear about staying at home and our social distancing and avoiding groups of more than 10. We need to continue to do that.”

As businesses reopen, owners may register under the Lubbock Economic Recovery Taskforce’s Lubbock Safe Program, which can be found on the City of Lubbock’s COVID-19 online dashboard.

Regarding the program, Pope said there has been a good response. People now can register and will later receive s ticker to put on the front door of their businesses indicating their business is following the Lubbock Safe Program guidelines.

“It’s a way for our citizens to know that you as an organization have taken extra precaution to provide for safety of your employees and of customers, parishioners, clients, whomever it may be that will be visiting you,” Pope said.