Trauma Service Area B below 15 percent threshold for the first time since October

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LUBBOCK, Texas — On Wednesday, Director of Public Health for the City of Lubbock, Katherine Wells, confirmed to EverythingLubbock.com Trauma Service Area B, which includes Lubbock and 22 other counties, is below the 15 percent threshold of coronavirus patients in the hospital. This rate was set by the Governor’s office in relation to Executive Orders 31 and 32.

Chief Medical Officer Dr. Craig Rhyne said he is relieved to see the rate below 15 percent.

“We’ve been waiting for this a long time,” Dr. Rhyne said.

According to data from the Texas Department of State Health Services, we first reported we were above the threshold on October 18 at 15.83 percent. As of data reported from January 26, the number now sits at 14.57 percent. The hospitalization rate was above the threshold for 99 days.

“It’s been an incredible strain on the entire healthcare system here on the South Plains to be dealing with that many patients with this severity of illness for that length of time,” Rhyne said.

Dr. Rhyne and Aaron Davis, Chief Experience Officer with University Medical Center, said they are seeing a decline in COVID-19 related hospitalizations firsthand.

“Since our peak week of COVID census which was on November 29, with 186 patients, we have seen gradual decrease since that time,” Davis said.

The trauma service area would have to maintain below the 15 percent threshold for seven consecutive days, then businesses like restaurants can reopen at 75 percent capacity, elective surgeries can resume, and bars can reopen.

“We have to have those kinds of things such as elective surgeries to provide care for the patients that count on us,” Dr. Rhyne said.

Mayor Dan Pope took questions regarding the 15 percent threshold during a press conference Wednesday.

“I would be surprised if it’s seven–if we’ll go seven straight days, but I do like the trend and I would think by the end of February, we likely find ourselves in that position,” Pope said.

Both Davis and Rhyne said members of the community should continue to take precautions and take personal responsibility.

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