LUBBOCK, Texas — An urgent plea went to Lubbock Mayor Dan Pope, the Lubbock City Council and the people of the community on Thursday.
The plea from the Lubbock County Medical Society was to stop mass gatherings. The plea was also for enforcement of requirements wear a mask and maintain 6-feet of distance between people in public places.
The letter referenced Johns Hopkins data that showed Lubbock as, “ranked among the top eight U.S. counties for average daily COVID-19 deaths.“
EverythingLubbock.com previously reported on the Johns Hopkins data that showed Lubbock County averaged six COVID-19 deaths in the week of November 1 through November 8. Tarrant County, which has a population of over 2 million according to U.S. Census Bureau data, also averaged six coronavirus-related deaths in the same timeframe.
The letter also asked for Lubbock residents to support and protect frontline medical workers.
“We ask the West Texas Community,” the letter said, “to unite and honor our civic duty to one another, to protect those at greatest risk of Covid-19 exposure, and to support the healthcare professionals who will not waiver in their commitment to heal the sick and ease their pain.
On Wednesday evening, the City of Lubbock Health Department reported four additional deaths and 446 new cases for Lubbock and Lubbock County. The city reported as of Wednesday 257 deaths, 23,913 total cases and 19,158 recoveries since the start of the pandemic.
The Texas Department of State Health Services reported 24.55% of hospital patients were COVID-positive for Trauma Service Area – Region B . TSA-B is a 22-county region around Lubbock. The State of Texas set up medical tents outside Covenant and University Medical Center this week to expand local hospital capacity.
The following is a copy of the letter dated November 12.
November 12, 2020
Mayor Dan Pope
PO Box 2000
Lubbock, TX 79457
Dear Mayor Pope, Members of the Lubbock City Council, and the Lubbock Community,
We write this letter as the Lubbock County Medical Society on the frontlines in the fight against Covid-19. We are the West Texas physicians who take on the risk of treating and caring for the patients who are suffering and dying from the coronavirus.
As many of you may know, recent data from a Johns Hopkins study showed that Lubbock was “ranked among the top eight U.S. counties for average daily COVID-19 deaths.” El Paso counted eight deaths per day recently and experts believe that Lubbock, which reports six deaths daily now, will arrive at the numbers of El Paso County within the next two weeks. These numbers are even more devastating when you consider the fact that this ranking is not based on per capita deaths. El Paso County has 720,000+ inhabitants. Lubbock County has 310,000+.
We have seen the numbers of Covid patients steadily increase at University Medical Center and Covenant Health System, forcing the hospitals to convert more intensive care units into COVID units. We have over 23,000 total cases and more than 250 deaths – and those numbers are increasing every day. This week, because of the increasing number of patients who must be hospitalized and the decreasing number of available hospital and ICU beds, we are setting up tents at both UMC and Covenant. What this means for the Lubbock community is that space for non-COVID patients is extremely limited and therefore non-Covid medical issues cannot be treated and must be sent elsewhere. This often means that patients will choose not to come to the hospital and risk serious injury or consequences.
We must also make clear that having tents outside of our hospitals does not solve our COVID problems.
The cases of Covid will continue to increase, the hospitals will become overburdened, more of our medical personnel will become sick or exposed, and more people will suffer from long-term consequences or even die.
As the Lubbock County Medical Society, we are concerned that – even while we work tirelessly to treat our patients in the West Texas area – the Lubbock community has continued to gather at large events and ignore/subvert the mask ordinance and social distancing protocols. This has led to unnecessary exposures, increasing hospitalizations, and abnormally high numbers of deaths, not just among the older or more vulnerable population.
We, the undersigned healthcare professionals of Lubbock County Medical Society plead with the Mayor, the City Council and the Lubbock community to limit further gatherings, activities, and events to decrease Covid exposures and proactively support and protect those of us putting our lives on the front lines daily. The only way to mitigate this public health and infrastructural crisis is to put evidence based, scientifically rigorous protocols and procedures in place and enforce those policies.
We, the Lubbock County Medical Society, ask that the following measures be implemented and, more importantly, enforced:
1) Limitation of gatherings to 10 or less
2) Masks to be worn properly at all times
3) Social distancing
We ask the West Texas Community, to unite and honor our civic duty to one another, to protect those at greatest risk to Covid-19 exposure, and to support the healthcare professionals who will not waiver in their commitment to heal the sick and ease their pain.
M.D. 2020 LCMS President