Lubbock hospital capacity 111820

From City of Lubbock dashboard, data as of Nov. 17, 2020

Lubbock Public Health Authority Dr. Ron Cook said "we are in trouble" citing local hospitals at capacity and an average of more than 400 new cases confirmed a day over recent weeks.

Public health director Katherine Wells said a city of Lubbock's size cannot continue to have a case load like this. 

Lubbock Mayor Dan Pope said the city will soon close its large facilities the city's own sports facilities. It will also move all meetings to virtual. The city manager will provide further details later this week, these changes will be in place through at least the rest of the year.

The city will meet virtually with "big box" store leadership to recommend implementing stricter capacity limits and taking other steps to limit spread of the coronavirus. Pope lauded Costco's strict requirements that everyone must a mask to enter the store.

The City of Lubbock COVID-19 dashboard shows, as of Tuesday, there are -12 hospital beds available. This is calculated with 13 beds staffed and open, but 25 people waiting for a bed. While there are some other beds available, these are specialized, such as for infants, psychiatric patients or other needs.

Put simply, if you have an emergency, there may not be the staffing and capacity available to treat you right now.

Dr. Cook said roughly 50 percent of total patients in Lubbock hospitals now are positive for COVID-19.

"We've got to stop the spread of the virus," Dr. Cook said, urging everyone to follow CDC guidelines for celebrating Thanksgiving. This includes limiting gatherings to 10 people, wearing a mask in public and social distancing.

"Our front line staff have worked hard" from the beginning of the pandemic, Dr. Cook said. But they have been especially stressed as cases have "skyrocketed".

Since Sept. 1, Lubbock hospitals have had seven times the number of COVID patients that it did before that time through the pandemic.

Mayor Pope showed data that it is no longer just young adults driving the spread of cases. Dr. Cook said the virus "is everywhere in our community", not just isolated to one group or demographic.

Pope said front line workers in Lubbock will likely receive one of the new COVID-19 vaccines before the end of the year. But it will likely be well into the new year before it is widely available to everyone. 

Mayor Pope said there will not be a lockdown or restrictions similar to what was seen in the spring. He said a lot was learned about how the lockdown hurt mainly small businesses and individuals, threatening their ability to survive. And, he said, there is not a safety net from the federal government like was in place then.

Dr. Cook agreed, saying reducing gathering sizes will help reduce the number of cases. He said a lockdown isn't needed now, although he wouldn't rule it out if things get even worse. 

The Medical Examiner's Office and other morgues have been able to make adjustments to handle the increase in deaths at this point, Dr. Cook said. But, he warned, Lubbock is "close" to what El Paso has dealt with, needing to call in mobile trucks to deal with so many deaths.