Lubbock sees record spike in COVID-19 cases, demand for testing as Omicron variant spreads

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Lubbock this week has reported its highest numbers of new COVID-19 cases in a single day in recent months, and healthcare experts say the number is anticipated to go up as Lubbockites flock to testing centers while the highly contagious Omicron variant makes its way through the community.

The city reported 813 new COVID-19 cases in Lubbock on Monday - the most in a day since the beginning of the pandemic - followed by 492 more cases on Tuesday, according to data provided by the health department. Along with new cases, hospitalizations are on the rise around the region, with the area's COVID-19 hospitalization rate increasing from 11.43 to 14.13 percent in the last week. As of Tuesday, there were 187 COVID-19 patients in hospital beds in Trauma Service Area B, which includes Lubbock and the South Plains.

The city of Lubbock Health Department's drive-through COVID-19 testing site is open from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday through Friday at 2721 50th Street (at back of the building).
The city of Lubbock Health Department's drive-through COVID-19 testing site is open from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday through Friday at 2721 50th Street (at back of the building).

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There were 240 open staffed hospital beds of 1,323 available in the region, according to data provided by the state health department.

In Lubbock County alone, 146 people were hospitalized with 40 in the ICU and one additional death reported, according to the city COVID-19 dashboard. Of those patients hospitalized, 24 were vaccinated.

Health Department Director Katherine Wells said the city has seen an increase in the number of people seeking testing at the health department's free COVID-19 testing clinic. Many of those individuals are reporting to be symptomatic or exposed to someone who has COVID-19.

The city of Lubbock Health Department's drive-through COVID-19 testing site is open from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday through Friday at 2721 50th Street (at back of the building).
The city of Lubbock Health Department's drive-through COVID-19 testing site is open from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday through Friday at 2721 50th Street (at back of the building).

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“We've had a 40% positivity rate, meaning that 40% of those that come through the testing site are actually testing positive for COVID,” Wells said on Tuesday.

Much of the exposure is to be expected after the holiday season.

"We had people in the community come together for the holidays, which is a risk factor for COVID-19, and we have this much more infectious Omicron variant here in the community, which drives the number of cases up," Wells added.

With schools reopening this week, Wells said there's a high risk for further transmission.

“I'd like to see higher vaccination rates among our young people,” Wells said. “We're currently at 25% of those 5 to 19 years that have started their vaccination; vaccines will help mitigate the disease spread and the possibility of hospitalization.”

Wells
Wells

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For all populations in Lubbock County, 51.41 percent of people are unvaccinated.

The City of Lubbock Health Department will continue hosting its free COVID-19 drive-through testing site from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday through Friday at 2721 50th Street. They are able to test up to 600 people per day, Wells said, and the test results are typically available within 24 hours.

Those needing routine immunizations, as well as the COVID-19 vaccine, can call the Public Health Department at 806-775-2933 for assistance.

For additional information related to the Public Health Department's COVID-19 vaccine availability, visit mylubbock.us/covid19vaccine.

This article originally appeared on Lubbock Avalanche-Journal: Lubbock sees spike in COVID cases, testing as Omicron variant spreads

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