Lubbock on the Cusp of Business Capacity Reductions, Closures as COVID-19 Cases Spike
During a press conference Tuesday afternoon (October 20th), City of Lubbock councilperson Steve Massengale and others addressed Lubbock's current surge of COVID-19 cases, which has helped place the trauma service area it's part of over the 15 percent hospitalization rate red line as laid out by Governor Greg Abbott in his executive orders.
The trauma region Lubbock is part of, Trauma Service Area B, as of Tuesday, October 20th, had more than 16.64 percent hospitalization rate for COVID-19. It includes 22 other counties.
If there's five more days straight of a 15 percent+ COVID-19 hospitalization rate, many Lubbock businesses, and those in the other 22 counties in the trauma service area, would be impacted per Gov. Abbott's executive order.
"The businesses that are at 75 percent capacity -- restaurants, amusement parks, libraries, retail -- are reduced to 50 percent capacity," said Massengale. Bars that have been reopened at 50 percent capacity, Massengale added, would be closed completely. Hospitals would also stop elective procedures.
To revert back to the business capacity numbers Lubbock is currently operating under, Massengale explained that the area would need to have seven consecutive days of having under 15 percent of COVID-19 hospital patients
Chris Berry, a member of the Lubbock Economic Recovery Task Force and local business owner, also spoke during the conference and stressed the need for citizens to follow CDC guidance in order to reduce the spread of the novel coronavirus.
"Restaurants in particular struggled from the get-go with dining room closures and heavy restrictions. Restaurants every day are very familiar with sanitization, proper protocol, so this just takes it to the next level. However, if we all don't do our part, this potential step-back...would be drastic to all restaurants," he said.
"Most of us are barely keeping out heads above water," Berry added, adding that if people do their part with social distancing and wearing masks, the city could avoid another reduction in business capacities.
Councilman Massengale reiterated that despite COVID-19 fatigue, Lubbockites must be vigilant. He took a shot at those flouting the rules or believing in shadowy conspiracy theories.
"We all have personal responsibility in this pandemic. For someone to go out and think that it doesn't apply to them, or that maybe they don't believe, or maybe what they've learned, they've learned their opinion of the pandemic on social media...This is serious," Massengale said, adding: "We've got to stay the course on this. It is a personal responsibility to take care of yourself and take care of those around you," he said.
Massengale said the city wouldn't take further actions regarding COVID-19 restrictions, such as canceling sporting events or limiting business hours -- something that's being done in El Paso to mitigate that city's current surge in COVID-19 cases.
Besides "strongly encouraging" restaurant and bar owners to ensure both staff and patrons are following CDC guidelines, Berry said it all comes down to personal decisions on wearing masks -- despite Governor Abbott's statewide mask mandate, which went into effect on July 3rd, 2020.
"Just like wearing a mask is a personal decision, enforcing the protocol is the personal decision, and whether they're compliant is a personal decision of that restauranteur," Berry said.
From October 1st to October 20th, the City of Lubbock has confirmed 3,904 new cases of COVID-19.
You can watch the full City of Lubbock press conference below: