Lubbock officials address latest COVID-19 data

An update on COVID-19 was given by City of Lubbock officials during a virtual news conference Wednesday.

Katherine Wells, director of the Lubbock Health Department, said there are 9,936 cases and is expecting for the total case count to reach 10,000 by Wednesday evening. The death total is now at 113.

The health department is planning on moving to a new data system by either Wednesday evening or Thursday, Wells said. The change will not alter the data being presented on the dashboard. 

“The big reason for the change is the health department normally processes between 200 and 300 disease reports a week,” Wells said. “Now with COVID, our department staff is processing over 2,000 records a week, and our prior data system could not handle this volume.”

There should not be a big change to the total case count, but there potentially could be some changes to the ethnicity categories or to the number of daily cases documented, Wells said.

The new data system will allow information to be entered into the system faster and allow contact tracing to be done more efficiently, Wells said.

During the conference, there also was a breakdown of local COVID-19 data.

Lubbock City Councilman Steve Massengale said there is a downward trend for the rolling average positivity rate. He said the hospital system is able to handle anyone needing to be admitted for COVID-19 or any other medial issues.

The majority of the current cases are coming from the 18- to 24-year-old age range, Massengale said.

“I think we just have to continue to reinforce the message and help them understand that there are consequences on these parties if they don’t handle it safely and responsibly,” Massengale said.

Dr. Ronald Cook, local health authority, said the city is beginning to see flu cases in the community and urged both adults and children to get a flu vaccine.

“If you have your flu shot, more than likely it’ll be easier for us to decide whether or not you have COVID or flu,” Cook said.

COVID-19 fevers are typically higher than the fever for flu, Cook said. An adult fever is a temperature of 100.4 F and an infant fever is a temperature of 99.5 F.

In addition to the physical symptoms, the mental health effects for people during the pandemic were discussed.

“Behavior changes have occurred, and mental health issues have risen to the top,” Cook said.

There has been an increase in anxiety disorders, depression disorders, suicidal thoughts and substance abuse, Cook said.

Therefore, it is important to reach out to friends and family to check in on each other’s mental health and not be afraid to ask questions, Cook said.

“It’s much better to ask somebody than for them to go ahead and act on those [thoughts], and we lose that loved one,” Cook said.

The StarCare COVID-19 Mental Health line, which is answered 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., can be reached at 806-740-1450.

Prevention efforts at gatherings was addressed during the conference.

Massengale provided updates on the city guidelines and responses for social events.

“Tailgating activity around the game went very well,” Massengale said regarding the Tech football game against Houston Baptist Saturday at Jones At&T Stadium. “Those that were out did it very responsibly.”

Future tailgates and other events still need to be registered on, Massengale said.

“We have not denied any requests, but we have worked with them to improve their plan,” Massengale said.

The city continues to check on restaurants and bars to ensure guidelines are being followed, Massengale said. There still is a problem with large house parties and gatherings taking place at rental facilities not following COVID-19 guidelines.

“Any incident that we have that’s involving Texas Tech students is submitted to the university for review and potential action,” Massengale said.

Masks still are required when people are gathered outdoors if they are within six feet of each other, Massengale said.