City of Lubbock officials give COVID-19 update

As the number of COVID-19 cases in Lubbock continues to slow down, City of Lubbock officials hosted a virtual press conference on Tuesday to discuss new information about health and safety guidelines and local schools reopening.

As of the press conference, 5255 cases of COVID-19 have been reported in Lubbock county. 3186 are recovered cases while 1994 are active cases, with the death toll at 75 people. 

Katherine Wells, director of the Lubbock Health Department, said the case numbers are still high but are steadily decreasing. Requests for testing have also gone down as well. 

"As I have said before, controlling the spread of COVID requires the entire community. We need to be smart when we're out, follow the local SAFE guidelines, practice social distancing and don't forget to wear that face covering," Wells said.

COVID-19 cases are expected to rise when schools open, Wells said. However, the health department is working with schools for contact tracing and possible micro-closures.

Micro-closures will happen when the health department learns of a student contracting COVID-19 and will quarantine that student's classroom. This will allow the rest of the school to still function normally, Wells said.

Dr. Ronald Cook, local health authority, highlighted the need for students to return to schools this coming fall. 

"We believe that the benefits to returning to school outweighs risk for returning to school for infection, and we also believe that it is an individual choice," Cook said.

Schools will no longer have large assemblies, will have several entrances and more hand washing stations for students to use, Cook said when talking about schools' plans to reopen.

Most children will weather the infection, if they do become infected, very well, Cook said. However, he advises parents to speak to their primary care physicians.

"We can do this. I have great faith in this community and I know that you guys can do this," he said.

Lubbock Mayor Dan Pope thanked the community for following health and safety guidelines and passed his sympathies to families and individuals who have been impacted by COVID-19. The local school districts have set aside effective plans for reopening schools, Pope said.

"My big takeaway is this: the common sense of West Texas people has allowed us to reopen and re-engage our lives much more than the bigger cities in Texas and, in many cases, the states around us," he said.