100 days of high COVID-19 hospitalizations in Lubbock area
The trauma service region that includes Lubbock has seen a high rate of COVID-19 hospitalizations for 100 days as of Wednesday. City and health leaders are optimistic about current downward trends and treatments that have helped lower the hospitalization rate.
Since Oct. 19, more than 15% of hospitalized patients in Lubbock’s 22-county trauma service region have tested positive for COVID-19. It was one of the first areas to fall under state-set guidelines that called for “reopening rollbacks” in regions with high hospitalizations.
The latest data from Texas Health and Human Services shows 17 of the 22 trauma service regions in the state are above that 15% threshold. That includes Amarillo’s region, which hit the mark the same week Lubbock did. The Laredo area has consistently seen the most COVID-19 patients in the state - 44% of patients have the virus.
Lubbock’s region has hovered just over that 15% line the past few days. In order to lift capacity restrictions, regional COVID-19 patients need to account for less than 15% of all patients for a week, according to an order from Gov. Greg Abbott. Lubbock Mayor Dan Pope said at a news conference Wednesday that based on current projections, he hopes to be at that point by the end of February.
Lubbock facilities saw a peak number of patients in November. That’s since declined, but the two major hospital systems still regularly surpass capacity.
City of Lubbock data from Tuesday shows 13 people were waiting for a hospital bed. Over 180 people were hospitalized with COVID-19 hospitalizations, with 52 of those patients requiring intensive care. The capacity problem is further affected by a seasonal increase in hospitalizations, according Pope.
Through a partnership between local and state authorities, a surge hospital is now open at the former Grace Medical Center at 50th Street and University Avenue. The facility adds 20 hospital beds to Lubbock and can be expanded if needed.
Lubbock’s Health Authority Dr. Ron Cook said antibody therapies like regeneron and bamlanivimab that have been available in the city since November have helped keep COVID-positive people out of hospitals. These treatments are for people who have tested positive for the virus and are at a high-risk of requiring hospitalization. Administering them soon after diagnosis can reduce symptoms.
Cook said healthcare workers have learned a lot about treating the coronavirus in the months they’ve battled it, even just since Lubbock hit that high-hospitalization mark in October.
Over 46,000 Lubbockites have tested positive for the coronavirus and 659 people have died from its complications since March 2020.
Have a news tip? Email Sarah Self-Walbrick at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her reporting on Twitter @SarahFromTTUPM.
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