Lubbock has seen a slight uptick of COVID-19 diagnoses so far in June. City and health leaders said that was expected as the city reopens and testing continues.
“We don’t expect that our positives will remain down in the zero, one and two range. We think they’ll be a little higher than that," Mayor Dan Pope said at last week's Community Engagement Taskforce meeting.
At the weekly COVID-19 news conference Wednesday, Health Director Katherine Wells shared new case averages that show that.
“Over the past week, the department has reported an average of seven and a half cases a day, which is an increase of five cases a day that we’ve been reporting in prior weeks," Wells said. "We’re still doing well, Lubbock, but we are monitoring these numbers and really looking for any additional hot spots.”
There has been an increase, but new diagnoses in Lubbock are still low - especially compared to April. Wednesday saw the most cases announced in a single day in over a month, when 16 tests returned positive.
State-mandated testing at nursing homes, which is almost complete, has not yielded any additional hot spots, Wells said. City data shows most of the new infections were contracted in the community or through exposure to a known case. Gatherings are a concern, Wells said.
“We’re seeing groups of people gathering and maybe not practicing as much social distancing as we’d like to see," Wells said. "We want people to continue with those social distancing practices. Even though we have businesses open and we’re able to do more, we as a group and community, need to work on making sure that we keep that distance.”
Taking other precautions like wearing a face covering and washing hands frequently are still highly encouraged. Dr. Ron Cook said to keep pop-up outbreaks under control, everyone needs to remain careful.
“One person can spread it pretty quickly, within a few minutes, to others," Cook said. "Even if they don’t have any symptoms."
As new cases are added, recoveries continue to climb. About 67% of confirmed have recovered.
Another data point that’s gone up is testing. Lubbock County has tested nearly 22,000 people since March, close to 7% of residents. That’s compared to just under 4% of people tested statewide, Pope highlighted. Five percent of tests have been positive.
Lubbock had a high death rate in April, as nursing home outbreaks of coronavirus claimed many lives. That has since flattened.
“Fortunately, we have not reported any additional deaths in now over a month," Wells said. "The number of deaths remains at 50 individuals.”
Hospitalization rates, a key measure to gage how the virus is impacting a community, have also lowered locally. Thirteen people were hospitalized on Wednesday.
Statewide, data is not as optimistic. Texas reported a record-breaking number of hospitalizations Monday. Texas Department of Health and Human Services reported 1,935 people were admitted as hospital patients for coronavirus-related treatment.
More than 1.3 million Texans have been tested for COVID-19, with nearly 80,000 cases confirmed. Over three months after the virus was first diagnosed in Texas, about 66% of patients have recovered and 2% have died.