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COVID-19 Is Hitting Lubbock Hospitals And Staff Hard

Gabriel C. Pérez/KUT
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From Texas Standard:

Lubbock saw the same summer spike in COVID-19 cases as much of Texas. And, like much of the state, those cases decreased for a while after. But they jumped back up again in recent weeks, says Covenant Health Regional Chief Medical Officer Dr. Craig Rhyne.

“Our positivity rate went up," Rhyne told Texas Standard. "The total number of cases, active cases that we have identified, has gone up. And unfortunately, our hospitalizations, both for medical surgical hospitalizations and for ICU hospitalizations, has gone up to match."

Lubbock is home to Texas Tech University, and the student population makes up a significant portion of the city’s total population. Rhyne said the demographics of cases point to spread in this college-aged group, and among teenagers.

“Our peak is in that teenage group and then in the 20-year-old age group,” he said.

Rhyne said another big concern is how hard COVID-19 is hitting hospital staff.

"We have both physicians and nurses that have acquired this, usually in the community," Rhyne said. "But, you know, when they have it, they have it and they can't come to work. So we keep getting asked questions about, 'How many beds do you have? How many ventilators do you have?' I'm not nearly as worried about the number of beds and ventilators as I am the number of doctors and nurses that we have available to take care of the patients that are in those beds."

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott is looking at the percentage of COVID-19 hospitalizations compared to overall hospital capacity to make decisions about rolling back reopenings. The growing percentage of hospitalizations in Lubbock could trigger rollbacks there. Rhyne said Covenant Health is also considering its own rollbacks on things such as elective procedures.

“Because we have a lot of cases, we have some strain on our system. We have a lot of caregivers out. So we're going to have to make some tough decisions,” he said.

Copyright 2020 KUT 90.5

Laura first joined the KUT team in April 2012. She now works for the statewide program Texas Standard as a reporter and producer. Laura came to KUT from the world of television news. She has worn many different hats as an anchor, reporter and producer at TV stations in Austin, Amarillo and Toledo, OH. Laura is a proud graduate of the University of Missouri-Columbia, a triathlete and enjoys travel, film and a good beer. She enjoys spending time with her husband and pets.
Rhonda is the newest member of the KUT News team, joining in late 2013 as producer for KUT's new daily news program, The Texas Standard. Rhonda will forever be known as the answer to the trivia question, “Who was the first full-time hire for The Texas Standard?” She’s an Iowa native who got her start in public radio at WFSU in Tallahassee, while getting her Master's Degree in Library Science at Florida State University. Prior to joining KUT and The Texas Standard, Rhonda was a producer for Wisconsin Public Radio.