On Monday, City of Lubbock officials provided an update on the status of prevention and precautions regarding the COVID-19 pandemic.
Mayor Dan Pope said that limiting gatherings to 200 people is a step the city will be taking to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and increase social distancing.
“Tonight this evening at five o'clock we will have a special emergency city council meeting and at that time, I will declare a public health disaster,” Pope said.
Pope also said he suggests people refer to the CDC guidelines released last night, which suggest gatherings be limited to no more than 50 people.
“Remember, we still do not have a confirmed case in our community,” Pope said. “And as we stand today, our schools — our public schools, Lubbock ISD, Lubbock Cooper and Frenship — still plan on having school next week.”
With no confirmed cases yet in the Lubbock area, Pope stressed the importance of continuing prevention and social distancing, to limit the virus’ potential spread.
“First of all, we think we think this is a measured response. We think it's proactive and preemptive,” Pope said. “In some ways, we're approaching this a lot like we would approach a major winter storm. You prepare in advance. You don't want to get caught off guard.”
When shopping for groceries and supplies, Pope said he wants citizen’s to purchase a week’s worth of food and necessities when visiting the stores, so that shelves can remain stocked for others to purchase.
Dr. Douglas Klepper provided scientific expertise for the meeting, with usual Local Health Authority Dr. Ronald Cook unavailable for the conference. Klepper recapped the questions and concerns that doctors will look for in a patient before testing them for COVID-19.
“It's going to come by travel, we're going to ask you some screening questions,” Klepper said, “like — ‘What kind of symptoms do you have?’, ‘Do you have fever?’, ‘Have you had chills?’, ‘What kind of symptoms?’, if you’ve had a persistent cough — those kinds of things.”
When trying to protect oneself from the virus, Klepper said one should disinfect certain areas.
“We now know that it can actually last up to two to three days on hard surfaces,” Klepper said. “So if you've been around somebody coughing or sneezing, wipe it down, get a disinfectant. There's nothing cheaper out there right now (than) isopropyl alcohol. You can take a little bit of that and clean it off, that's cheap and easy.”
Despite people’s concerns about testing, Klepper said one should consider that testing will not impact one’s medical treatment.
“But one thing to remember with the testing,” Klepper said, “is the testing isn't going to change the medical treatment you're going to receive. This is a virus. So doctors are going to treat you the same way.”
City Manager Jarrett Atkinson said the City of Lubbock has seen a decrease in travel, which will help to limit the spread of COVID-19. One example he mentioned is that Lubbock Preston Smith International airport traffic on Spring Break Sunday was down 55 percent compared to last year’s number of travelers.
Regardless, Pope said the city is taking measures to prevent the spread of the virus.
“I've heard the arguments, and I know that I'll be accused of overreacting,” Pope said, “and if that's the case, then I'll be guilty as charged. But I think when I read the City of Lubbock charter, and I know that the spirit of the men and women I’ve served with on the Lubbock City Council, we take very seriously that our charge, that job one, is the safety of our citizens. In that regard, I don't think it's worth the risk of not acting.”