LUBBOCK, Texas – In a city council meeting Tuesday, Mayor Dan Pope announced he would create an economic recovery task force.
In mid-March, Pope issued an emergency declaration – the first of six – related to COVID-19 or coronavirus. The declarations eventually prohibited some forms of “non-essential” business. Non-essential businesses can still operate by delivery, take-out, drive-through and curbside service.
As of Tuesday evening, the city reported 25 deaths from COVID-19 along with 330 confirmed cases. Of those, 85 were listed as recovered.
Many Lubbock small business owners have been devastated, according to multiple accounts including the city council discussion on Tuesday. Governor Greg Abbott this week began an effort to determine how businesses state-wide could re-open without causing the spread of COVID-19.
“We will have local representation on those statewide efforts,” Pope said.
Statewide talks could start as soon as Wednesday, Pope said.
“I would expect that we would see some re-opening criteria that the governor would suggest,” Pope said during the city council meeting.
The criteria might include metrics — perhaps something like the doubling rate which is the number of days it takes to double the confirmed cases.
“I will be appointing a task force this week,” Pope said — no later than Thursday.
“The economic recovery task force will be a blue-ribbon group of citizens, including a couple members of … this council,” Pope said.
The job of the task force will be to advise the city council on actions needed to restart the economy “while at the same time providing for a safe Lubbock.”
Pope said, “The goals would be to save lives and livelihoods and to chart a path back to normal for our community.”
The task force will be a broad-based collection of people from business, the health sector, education, faith, and non-profits.
“This group would begin meeting immediately,” Pope said.
He would like for the task force to report back to council by the end of the month. Pope wants a responsible and reasonable plan which he describes as a “new normal.”
“We would expect that work to be done as fast as reasonably possible.”
Pope also talked about the task force in a Facebook video Wednesday morning.