Health department reports 3 new variants but no virus surge since lifting of mask mandate

Local News

LUBBOCK, Texas — It’s now been a month since Gov. Greg Abbott lifted the state’s mask mandate, and the City of Lubbock Health Department reported that the Hub City only saw a small increase in new cases since then.

However, during the city’s weekly COVID-19 update on Wednesday, Health Authority Dr. Ron Cook said Lubbock has now seen cases of two coronavirus variants — the California and the South Africa variants. Across the South Plains, there are also reports of the highly infectious UK variant.

“Those are variants of concern as listed by the CDC. Those do seem to be more infectious and cause more severe disease, so how do we prevent that from happening? We prevent that from happening by you going and getting your vaccine,” Dr. Cook said during the virtual press conference.

Health experts agreed it was just a matter of time before these mutations crept into West Texas from the larger cities, and we were ready. Despite this, Dr. Cook and Public Health Director Katherine Wells emphasized that Lubbock has made great progress in the fight against the coronavirus, reporting low hospital rates and new cases averaging less than 20 a day.

“Overall, we’re in a much better place than what we were just a few weeks ago,” Cook said.

Both Cook and Wells said Lubbock’s vaccine rollout has been “fantastic” and gaining steam, making them feel hopeful.

Tuesday, the health department celebrated 100,000 shots administered at the Lubbock Memorial Civic Center. In total, 150,000 vaccines have been given out across Lubbock County. Still, more and more vaccines are being pumped into local hospitals, pharmacies and healthcare providers.

“Hopefully, in the next coming weeks, we will see the vaccine open up to children as young as twelve,” Wells said.

In the event those vaccinated ultimately need a booster of the vaccine later this year, the Hub City will have more than enough.

“In another four months, it’s [still] going to be very readily available … As patients need it, we’ll be able to give it to them,” Cook said.

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