Trump Country Docs Issue Cry for Help
from Locals with New Covid Crackdown
November 12, 2020
Lubbock has become a killing field for the coronavirus with hospitals moving patients into tents or turning them away amid doctors' pleas for help from local officials if Governor Greg Abbott won't come to their aid first with the imposition of a mask mandate and other restrictions that have real teeth.
With the virus surging at dangerous levels throughout West Texas where violations of the current statewide mask are massive, the Lubbock County Medical Society sounded the alarm on Thursday in a letter to Mayor Dan Pope and the city council on the need for more stringent emergency regulations than the largely unenforceable rules that Abbott has in place.
But the local physicians organization also sought to appeal to a rapidly-vanishing sense of community and cooperation that had been a mainstay of the culture in rural America before acting tough and independent became a higher priority during the pandemic.
"We ask the West Texas Community, to unite and honor our civic duty to one another, to protect those at greatest risk to Covid-19 exposure, and to support the healthcare professionals who will not waiver in their commitment to heal the sick and ease their pain," Lubbock doctor Ashley Sturgeon said as the LCMS president.
Sturgeon warned that the local health care system would be at risk of a full-scale meltdown without a more concerted team effort in the COVID-19 contagion in Lubbock and other West Texas metros that have been the hottest spots in the state as the second wave intensifies,
"The cases of Covid will continue to increase, the hospitals will become overburdened, more of our medical personnel will become sick or exposed, and more people will suffer from long-term consequences or even die," Sturgeon said in the SOS communique.
Sturgeon didn't mention the explosive political crisis that has the nation on edge in the pitch for tighter limitations on public gatherings and the potential for transmission without a more religious adherence to masks in public places.
The doctors group leader appeared to send a subliminal message to locals who've been buying into President Donald Trump's dismissive attitude about the virus spread and death toll as a candidate for re-election to the job that he lost at the polls last week.
"The only way to mitigate this public health and infrastructural crisis is to put evidence based, scientifically rigorous protocols and procedures in place and enforce those policies," Sturgeon contended.
Trump carried Lubbock County with 65 percent of the vote in the 2020 general election after scoring almost 1 point higher in the battle with Hillary Clinton four years ago. The outgoing president fared several percentage points better in the other major West Texas cities than he had in 2016.
The medical professionals might not be betting on an Abbott rescue ride in Lubbock or other red West Texas Republican strongholds as long as Trump is stringing out the election by refusing to concede amid a flurry of lawsuits that revolve on allegations of voter fraud that's appeared to be imaginery up to now.
But the governor helped set the stage for the second wave in Texas when he ditched the testing positivity rate as the official gauge for lockdowns and reopenings in his role as the state's sole coronavirus commander. The switch to covid hospitalizations - an antiquated metric in the eyes of the experts - cleared the way for the reopening of bars in West Texas counties that the GOP controls by making it easier to qualify.
West Texas has been a major epicenter of the second wave that's brutalizing Trump country where elected leaders and substantial numbers of residents who've failed to put up a fight against the virus with the president's constant encouragement.
November 12, 2020
Mayor Dan Pope
PO Box 2000
Lubbock, TX 79457
Dear Mayor Pope, Members of the Lubbock City Council, and the Lubbock Community,
We write this letter as the Lubbock County Medical Society on the frontlines in the fight against Covid-19. We are the West Texas physicians who take on the risk of treating and caring for the patients who are suffering and dying from the coronavirus.
As many of you may know, recent data from a Johns Hopkins study showed that Lubbock was “ranked among the top eight U.S. counties for average daily COVID-19 deaths.” El Paso counted eight deaths per day recently and experts believe that Lubbock, which reports six deaths daily now, will arrive at the numbers of El Paso County within the next two weeks. These numbers are even more devastating when you consider the fact that this ranking is not based on per capita deaths. El Paso County has 720,000+ inhabitants. Lubbock County has 310,000+.
We have seen the numbers of Covid patients steadily increase at University Medical Center and Covenant Health System, forcing the hospitals to convert more intensive care units into COVID units. We have over 23,000 total cases and more than 250 deaths – and those numbers are increasing every day. This week, because of the increasing number of patients who must be hospitalized and the decreasing number of available hospital and ICU beds, we are setting up tents at both UMC and Covenant. What this means for the Lubbock community is that space for non-COVID patients is extremely limited and therefore non-Covid medical issues cannot be treated and must be sent elsewhere. This often means that patients will choose not to come to the hospital and risk serious injury or consequences.
We must also make clear that having tents outside of our hospitals does not solve our COVID problems.
The cases of Covid will continue to increase, the hospitals will become overburdened, more of our medical personnel will become sick or exposed, and more people will suffer from long-term consequences or even die.
As the Lubbock County Medical Society, we are concerned that – even while we work tirelessly to treat our patients in the West Texas area – the Lubbock community has continued to gather at large events and ignore/subvert the mask ordinance and social distancing protocols. This has led to unnecessary exposures, increasing hospitalizations, and abnormally high numbers of deaths, not just among the older or more vulnerable population.
We, the undersigned healthcare professionals of Lubbock County Medical Society plead with the Mayor, the City Council and the Lubbock community to limit further gatherings, activities, and events to decrease Covid exposures and proactively support and protect those of us putting our lives on the front lines daily. The only way to mitigate this public health and infrastructural crisis is to put evidence based, scientifically rigorous protocols and procedures in place and enforce those policies.
We, the Lubbock County Medical Society, ask that the following measures be implemented and, more importantly, enforced:
1) Limitation of gatherings to 10 or less
2) Masks to be worn properly at all times
3) Social distancing
We ask the West Texas Community, to unite and honor our civic duty to one another, to protect those at greatest risk to Covid-19 exposure, and to support the healthcare professionals who will not waiver in their commitment to heal the sick and ease their pain.
M.D. 2020 LCMS President