Coronavirus Update

Lubbock officials addressed the public after the city confirmed two cases of COVID-19 Tuesday evening.

Katherine Wells, director of the Lubbock Public Health Department, said one case is a resident of Lubbock County and one is a resident of Hockley County.

"These are both travel-related cases, so this is not community transmission," she said, "and these are unrelated cases. They just both happen to be tested within the last day or so."

The two individuals reported symptoms to the health department, and the department was able to facilitate testing for them, Wells said. The department is currently investigating how the individuals might have contracted the virus.

Dr. Ronald Cook, local health authority, said the individuals were never hospitalized. Both individuals met the criteria to be tested and monitored, and were asked to stay at home to self-monitor.

"These are travel-related, it's not community acquired," he said. "That's great for us, right."

The health department staff is working to identify individuals who were in contact with the two people who contracted the virus, Wells said. The staff will begin monitoring those contacts as well.

"If we see any of those signs or symptoms, we will quickly get those individuals tested to see if they are also positive," she said regarding those in contact with the sick individuals. "We want to take this time to remind everyone to follow the proper hygiene recommendations that we have been talking about for the last few weeks."

Lubbock City Manager Jarrett Atkinson said the city's protocol that was put in place to manage confirmed cases was used when information about the cases was made known.

"We reported, today, on our 4 o'clock update posted just before 5 that there were zero cases, and that was correct at that time," he said. "At approximately 5:25 today is when the lab was able to confirm the two additional."

To prevent the virus from spreading, Cook said one should practice social distancing and stay home, even if he or she thinks they just have the common cold or another mild illness.

Even though about 80 percent of COVID-19 cases are mild, Cook said the virus can have a worse outcome for those over 65 years of age, people with comorbid conditions and pregnant women.

"The system we have now, in place, is from [the Center for Disease Control and Prevention]," he said. "The biggest problem is we just don't have enough test kits nationwide, not only just in Texas and West Texas that is a problem."

Individuals who are evaluated as the most positive for COVID-19, such as people who present flu-like symptoms, high fever at around 103 degrees Fahrenheit, muscle aches and sore throats, will be tested.

"Currently, if you are tested at our laboratory that we have locally that's doing the test, that's what we call a presumptive positive test," he said. "We treat it as a positive, but then it is also sent to Atlanta to confirm that positive test."

Cook said testing will not matter when it comes to treatment.

"If you are ill and you've been around a known contact, and we don't have a test kit—worse case scenario, we don't have a test kit—we're still going to treat you the same way," he said.

If one does not have worrisome signs, such as confusion, lethargy, unresponsiveness, chest pain, shortness of breath, turning blue or purple around the lips and fingers, rapid heartbeat and breathing, Cook said he or she just needs to stay home.

At this point, Cook said one should stay home and take products, such as Motrin and Tylenol, that makes one feel better.

"That's the only treatment we have at this time," he said.

Drugs used to treat the flu are not working on COVID-19, Cook said. The experimental drug that is being created on a national level to treat the virus will not be ready this year.

Regardless of COVID-19 cases being present in Lubbock, Cook said the city's healthcare system is ready for these cases.

"I know [University Medical Center] has been prepared, I know that Covenant is ready, and I know that the Heart Hospital has been in meetings on how to handle this," he said, "and we're all in preparation on how this might occur or spread if it does spread."

For those who show any symptoms of COVID-19, Wells said to call the health department at 806-775-2933.

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