LUBBOCK, TX — Lubbock Mayor Dan Pope commended the Hub City for its resilience and flexibility in the pandemic during the 39th annual State of the City address, hosted by the Lubbock Apartment Association, Tuesday.
The event went virtual to prevent virus spread, and also new this time, viewers heard from Pope as well as from leaders across the community to give an update on the highs and lows of 2020.
“Today, I am more excited about the future of Lubbock than ever before,” Mayor Pope said.
Regarding the economy, Pope said Lubbock’s unemployment is now 5.2 percent and going down after spiking to nearly 11 percent at the peak of the pandemic. This time last year, unemployment was at 2.9 percent.
“From the hardships of 2020 rose the very best of Lubbock: perseverance, creativity, collaboration, grit, kindness and ingenuity,” Pope said.
The City of Lubbock CFO, Blu Kostelich, said that while the city’s economy is doing well now, the year wasn’t without steep financial loss.
“We did very well within our economy. Now, we understand that wasn’t across the board. We have to acknowledge not only the businesses that were lost through the year but also the lives that were lost,” Kostelich said.
Nonprofits said they were greatly impacted by the pandemic in 2020 as well. During the address, the South Plains Food Bank said it saw a 70 percent increase, and volunteers are feeding more people than ever. Glenn Cochran, the president of the Lubbock area United Way, said that the demand for their services was “through the roof.”
“In many ways, this might have been the best campaign we ever had because the community came together to really support the nonprofits,” Cochran said.
The medical community thanked its first responders and healthcare workers for their year-long sacrifice and commitment to taking care of patients in Lubbock as well as patients transferred to Lubbock from across Texas and other states, including Oklahoma and Colorado.
“I’m amazed at the resilience of our healthcare workers,” Walt Cathey, Chief Executive of Covenant Health, said.
Lubbock hospital systems, Covenant Health and UMC, emphasized how much hospitals and hospital staff have had to adapt to combat COVID-19.
“[First] a drive-up trailer, to a medical tent, to a vaccine clinic,” Mark Funderburk, President and CEO of UMC Health System.
But no matter what the virus has thrown or will throw the Hub City’s way, Pope concluded by saying West Texans are always there for each other.
“Our very best days are in front of us,” Pope said.