As the number of COVID-19 cases in Lubbock continue to increase, members of the City of Lubbock discussed ways to stay safe from the virus during a virtual news conference Tuesday evening.
At the time of the news conference, 191 COVID-19 cases and six related deaths have been reported in Lubbock County.
Katherine Wells, director of the Lubbock Health Department, said there are over 100 cases associated with nursing homes.
"This is our community's most vulnerable population, and any cases associated with these homes is considered an outbreak," she said. "These investigations take time, but it's critical that we identify the spread of disease and work with facilities to isolate individuals."
Investigations have also shown more community spread, which is a term used when there is no known exposure to COVID-19, Wells said.
With three Lubbock Stripes Convenience Stores being confirmed as COVID-19 exposure points Tuesday, Lubbock Mayor Dan Pope said the city will take a stronger look at the COVID-19 guidance for convenient stores.
Regardless, Pope said one should consider less than 15 percent of the positive cases in Lubbock County end up in the hospital. A majority of those cases stay home to rest.
The number of recovered individuals also has increased to 42 people, Wells said. There are two methods to determine whether one has recovered from COVID-19: the test-based method and watching for symptoms.
"The first method is a test-based method," she said. "This means that the individual has two negative COVID-19 tests at least 24 hours apart."
This first method is preferred for people in hospitals and long-term care facilities, Wells said.
"The second method is when we're watching for symptoms," she said. "In order to be considered recovered, you have to have at least seven days since symptoms started plus at least three days without symptoms."
Even though people can be considered recovered in at least seven days, Wells said some COVID-19 patients are taking more days to recover.
"If somebody is recovered, and they're returning to a healthcare job, they must wear a mask," she said, "and there are also restrictions on what individuals they can work with."
Regarding how soon one recovers, Dr. Ronald Cook, local health authority, said it varies among each individual.
"That's why we recommend, in most cases, a 14-day isolation, even after they're discharged from the hospital," Cook said. "In most cases, we know that some people continue to share virus after they're discharged, but we don't know if those viral particles are infectious."
Regardless of the number of cases in Lubbock County, Cook said people need to continue practicing social distancing and not get bogged down by alarm fatigue.
Alarm fatigue may occur when one hears medical advice related to COVID-19 multiple times and tends to block out the advice as a result, Cook said. Advice, such as staying home when one is sick and practicing social distancing, should not be ignored despite how many times people hear it.
"I don't want you to get alarm fatigue from listening to me saying those things," he said.
In addition to previously mentioned COVID-19 prevention efforts, other steps to stay healthy were also discussed during the conference.
"The new [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] guidelines now actually recommend that everybody who leaves the house should have on a facial covering," Cook said.
This guideline is mainly to prevent asymptomatic carriers of COVID-19 from spreading the virus to other people, Cook said. This should slow community spread.
People less than 2-years-old and those with neuromuscular disorder should not wear masks, as they may not be able to remove the mask, Cook said.
Overall, Cook said people need to continue practicing social distancing and self-isolation even during the Easter holiday. Not following these steps could result in an increase in positive COVID-19 cases.
To celebrate Easter, Pope said people need to find ways to celebrate differently.
"We need to do things differently," Pope said. "We've got to sacrifice for the short-term. That means Easter."