Lubbock officials hosted a virtual news conference on Wednesday answering several COVID-19 related questions as well as providing an update regarding the number of cases in the county.
Katherine Wells, director of the Lubbock Health Department, said there were eight new reported cases of COVID-19 in Lubbock. This increased Lubbock’s case total to 108.
Along with eight new cases of COVID-19 being reported in Lubbock, Wells also said one person died from the virus, increasing the city’s total number of deaths caused by the outbreak to three. The person who died was a man over the age of 60, a resident of Whisperwood Nursing & Rehabilitation Center.
With this being the second resident of Whisperwood to die due to COVID-19, Wells said the city will continue its thorough investigation with Texas Health and Human Services. Aside from the investigation, the city is working with Whisperwood in assisting residents who are infected with the virus.
“We are continuing to test residents to identify additional infections,” Wells said. “This testing will also allow us to see individuals who have cured the infection and can move out of isolation.”
With cases of COVID-19 spreading to residents of Whisperwood, Wells said the city is now conducting tests at other nursing facilities in Lubbock. All of the tests done so far have come back negative for the virus.
Along with Whisperwood, Wells said the city is also investigating a local daycare center as there was a possible case of COVID-19 connected with it. With questions rising about the daycare, Wells said it was important to let the community know it was under investigation as the city sent out a news release before contacting the parents.
“We are still awaiting test results,” Wells said. “When we know those test results, we will first work with the daycare about our recommendations and then we will announce that to the community.”
Regarding numbers to date, Wells said a cumulative number of 1,553 individuals have been tested in Lubbock with 124 people testing positive for COVID-19. As a reminder, Wells added that the hospitals and clinics are testing more than just the individuals in Lubbock. The local hospitals currently have 19 patients who have tested positive for COVID-19 while 26 individuals are under investigation.
“As far as our case counts, it’s difficult to compare between different cities right now,” Wells said. “We have a great resource here with the UMC drive-thru clinic. They have tested significantly more individuals in our community, and I don’t believe other cities our size have that testing capability right now and that’s really allowed us to identify individuals who are more of those asymptomatic carriers.”
The city has also removed public exposure information from its reports because of the emergency declarations put in place by both Texas Governor Greg Abbott and Lubbock Mayor Dan Pope. As the general public has followed social distancing measures, Wells said the number of public exposures has decreased. If the department determines any exposure would be a risk to the general public at large, the information will be provided.
Along with the update Wells provided on the cases in Lubbock, Dr. Ronald Cook, a local health authority, provided his update regarding COVID-19.
“I think we’re making some progress,” Cook said. “Although we didn’t test a lot of people over the last few days, this is good news. I think we’re making some progress.
Cook also addressed questions regarding what kind of masks individuals should wear when going out in public, referring to it as “the great mask debate.”
Opening the discussion, Cook said the public should not purchase and use surgical masks as the doctors need them to take care of those who are sick. A surgical mask is intended for health professionals as they wear them during surgery to protect them from bacteria in liquid droplets and aerosols.
Instead, he recommended the public wear a facial covering. Facial coverings need to be made of tightly-woven cotton material such as a tea towel. The facial coverings are meant for people who have the sniffles and are used to help prevent the spread of sickness.
Along with wearing a facial covering in public if one feels ill, Cook and the rest of the Lubbock officials continued to preach the importance of practicing social distancing and good hygiene practices. Mayor Pope said with the stay-at-home order in place, if residents do not need to leave their homes, they should stay at home.