Mayor Dan Pope Reacts to COVID-19 Outbreak in Lubbock: ‘We’re Not Going Back to Shutting Down, But We’ve Got to Move Forward Safely’
One day after the largest spike in new COVID-19 cases, representatives of the City of Lubbock, including Mayor Dan Pope, addressed the latest outbreak in an online news conference.
Before Mayor Pope spoke, Dr. Ron Cook addressed the media to discuss the latest outbreak
Dr. Cook explained that with COVID-19's higher spread rate when compared to the flu, the chances of residents spreading it to their co-workers could lead to more businesses having to close for cleaning. He asked citizens to continue practicing social distancing and wearing face coverings when out in public.
"Our greatest risk right now is just complacency and apathy about this disease," Dr. Cook said, adding later: "We must take care of other people; it's not always about us."
Dr. Cook also urged Lubbock businesses to screen employees and ensure they weren't making sick employees stay at work.
"Make sure that people are comfortable telling you that they don't feel well and that they need to go home. Don't make them stay and infect other people," Dr. Cook said.
Mayor Dan Pope focused on positive signs despite the spike on Tuesday.
"One of the things that made us feel confident about reopening was our ability to reduce the spread of COVID-19," Pope said, before highlighting that for weeks, Lubbock's daily new case count remained under 10.
Pope said hospitalizations for COVID-19 in Lubbock remain low.
Pope called the actions and activities of some Lubbock citizens as "unacceptable," referring to younger residents flocking to bars without face coverings or remaining 6 feet from other people.
"You need to avoid large groups. Hang out with the same people you've been hanging out with. Use good judgment," Pope said. "We're thankful TABC, with the governor's support, mentioned yesterday that they will be aggressively working with our bars. If they're not following that order, there's not a first slap on the wrist. The first infraction is a 30-day suspension of their license. We need that."
Pope mentioned how two-thirds of Lubbock bars have voluntarily closed down for cleaning and how the "vast majority" of local businesses have taken the coronavirus pandemic "very seriously."
"We have a couple that have not been very good actors, we've taken...action to close them while they test employees and while they clean their establishments," Mayor Pope said. "Those places, as they reopen, will be watched very carefully."
Highlights sporting events, Pope explained why Lubbock needs to learn and be better with their response to the coronavirus pandemic.
"How can we expect to play football this fall if we can't have 1,000 people at a softball tournament," Pope rhetorically asked, referencing an upcoming event in Lubbock.
"We're not going back to shutting down, but we've got to move forward safely," Pope said.
"Let's protect both lives and livelihoods," Mayor Pope said, though later remained noncommittal on pushing for mandatory face mask usage. Instead, he said there were discussions to enhance messaging and better reach those who are either unwilling, or unaware, of how wearing face masks in public can help reduce the spread of the Coronavirus.
When asked about occupancy levels for businesses being reduced instead of increasing due to the rise in cases, Pope said he would honor what Governor Abbott sets and doesn't expect to see a reduction in business levels. Rather, the onus is being placed on citizens to follow guidelines for social distancing and face mask usage, Pope explained.
You can view the full City of Lubbock press conference below.