LUBBOCK, Texas — For the first time in four years, Governor Greg Abbott visited Lubbock on Wednesday.
Abbott was briefed by local officials on the area’s COVID-19 response, including contract tracing and Lubbock ISD’s plan to safely reopen schools.
He started the press conference by saying he was impressed with the area’s response to COVID-19.
“I wanna thank everybody in this entire region for their collaboration. The region of Lubbock is far more successful in dealing with COVID-19 because of that level of collaboration,” said Abbott.
But he stressed it’s important to remain violent, warning that COVID-19 fatigue could become a new threat.
“If people do not continue to in a very disciplined way, maintain the highest level of standards, which you will see is an acceleration, the expansion of COVID-19,” said Abbott.
After a spike in cases were reported after Memorial Day, Abbott stressed staying vigilant, especially as schools reopen and more holidays are around the corner.
“As we returned to school as we are on the precipice of flu season, as we’re coming upon labor day, it’s so important for people to not let their guard down,” said Abbott.
Abbott said that the tools currently in place to contain COVID-19 are “the right ones” and that until new methods become available, wearing masks and social distancing is the best Lubbockites can do.
But for Jaime Engler, who’s father is in a nursing home, she says the regulations discouraging visitation are causing her father harm.
“I miss my daddy, I miss being able to talk to him,” Engler said. “He doesn’t deserve to be treated like a prisoner, he deserves to have a family.”
But Abbott says plans to increase testing in nursing homes are in the works.
“We will have same day turnaround test results in all nursing homes across the state of Texas. That should be again this week more fully next week,” said Abbott.
Abbott said bars, including some in Lubbock, are responsible for the prolific spread of Coronavirus.
“We do need to see the positivity rate go back below 10 percent,” said Abbott. “And then we need to see that bar establishments have a strategy that can be enforced with discipline.”
“When you go to bars, you don’t go in there and go to an isolated location far separated from others, instead people come together. When you’re drinking, you’re not wearing a mask, you’re taking your mask off.” said Abbott.
Felenia Burge, owner of Crawdaddy’s Sports Bar and Grill, said the Governor not allowing bars to has affected livelihood.
“We need to get back to work. I mean, we are losing everything that we have worked for,” Burge said. “I mean, my livelihood is at stake. Everything I own is for sale, including my house. I just want to be back open.”
Abbott said that until there is a better medical treatment to fight COVID-19, it is important for Texans to keep their guard up and limit social gatherings.
“One of the settings in which COVID-19 spread the most rapidly right now is these gatherings,” said Abbott. “People must remain vigilant even when just gathering with family members.”
Abbott also said he’s glad the Big 12 Conference is allowing the football season to happen. Abbott said he spoke to Texas Tech Athletic Director Kirby Hocutt this week, who told him the Red Raider football players were “wanting and willing” to get back on the field this year.