City of Lubbock officials take questions from public in town hall

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LUBBOCK, Texas — The City of Lubbock hosting a virtual town hall Wednesday to address questions from the public regarding the coronavirus. Panelists included local politicians, leaders in health care, and business owners.

Members of the public were asked to send in their questions by 10:00 a.m. Wednesday. The representative for the City of Lubbock asked the pre-selected questions instead of the public questions.

“Folks we’re all victims of COVID-19,” Lubbock County Judge Curtis Parrish said.

The first question, what is being done about large events with the increase in hospitalizations.

“Beginning tomorrow, we will not be approving any outdoor events for more than 10 people for the foreseeable future,” Mayor Dan Pope said.

A few questions involving hospitals. UMC and Covenant Chief Medical Officers explaining how they are handling the overflow of patients.

“We do have an option, we have not exercised it yet, of moving non-COVID patients over to the children’s hospital on a rented wing if you will,” Regional Chief Medical Officer for Covenant Health, Dr. Craig Rhyne said.

“Beds are not the issue as much as having qualified staff available,” Mike Ragain, M.D., senior vice president and chief medical officer, UMC, added.

Both men said about 96 percent of their patients at each of their respective hospitals are from our trauma region.

“That resource pool is relatively thin, and a lot of people from that resource pool have gone to El Paso, and as Dr. Mitchell said, that could be our crystal ball,” City of Lubbock Health Authority, Dr. Ron Cook said.

With Gov. Greg Abbott’s recent executive order, businesses are seeing rollbacks in the reopening of businesses. Bars are closed, and all businesses open at 75 percent capacity must now operate at 50 percent, as per GA-32. Owner of River Smith’s and president of the Lubbock Restaurant Assoc. Chris Berry took a question on how the rollbacks may begin to affect them.

“Many of us are already experiencing drastic shortfalls of anywhere from 20 to 50 percent, if not more,” Berry said. “This week, those numbers will just be exacerbated. Those numbers will just get worse.”

Each city leader made their final statements, pleading with the public to take personal responsibility, and help take care of our health care workers, the economy and the rest of our Trauma region. Judge Parrish added we have all been affected by the pandemic, sharing his personal story.

“Today was the first day I got to visit my mother who’s in a nursing home here in Lubbock in seven months,” Parrish said. “Help me take care of this community, and in doing so, we’ll take care of our moms, all of our neighbors, all of our nurses, our doctors. We’ll take care of our restaurant owners, our hotel owners and our other businesses. We’re in this together.”

To watch the full town hall meeting, click here.

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