Update on Friday Nov. 13:
Mayor Dan Pope responded to the letter Friday, Nov. 13.
"I have spoken with the president of the Lubbock County Medical Society, Dr. Ashley Sturgeon, regarding the group's letter and concerns. We had a very fruitful and understanding conversation regarding the challenges Lubbock faces in the community and on the medical front lines regarding COVID-19. The City of Lubbock supports our healthcare workers, and champions the tireless, often thankless, job they do every day; and the fully taxing position they've been in for eight months. Dr. Sturgeon and I remain committed to providing for the safety of the citizens during the pandemic, and beyond. We both agree everyone should practice COVID-19 guidelines. We can slow the spread. We can help our dedicated healthcare workers and overtaxed systems. By doing so, these frontline workers will be able to better serve all of the medical needs of our citizens. Slowing the spread is simple, wear a mask, maintain social distancing and avoid gathering in large groups. It is in our hands. Our actions today will show benefits in two weeks. Help our healthcare workers help us."
The Lubbock County Medical Society issued a call for enforcement Thursday in the face of growing COVID-19 infections and deaths.
The physicians are asking Mayor Dan Pope and other city leaders to "mitigate this public health and infrastructural crisis" by enforcing gathering limits, proper mask wearing, and social distancing.
In the Facebook message, doctors emphasize they are taking on the risk of treating and caring for patients who are suffering and dying from COVID-19, and note that Johns Hopkins has found Lubbock to be "ranked among the top eight U.S. counties for average daily COVID-19 deaths." They compared the hospital and death data from El Paso and warn Lubbock could face similar circumstances in the next two weeks.
Noting the number of hospitalized COVID-19 cases, the LCMA warns that space for non-COVID-19 patients is extremely limited and those cases must be sent elsewhere.
"We must also make clear that having tents outside of our hospitals does not solve our COVID problems," it states.
The physicians organization states it's concerned that "the Lubbock community has continued to gather at large events and ignore/subvert the mask ordinance and social distancing protocols." It finds this had led to unnecessary exposures and abnormally high levels of deaths -- "not just among the older or more vulnerable population."
The doctors emphasize the city should enforce its rules. So far, city leaders have emphasized education and working with citizens instead of penalizing, fining, or ticketing them for violations of Gov. Abbott's executive orders or city ordinances.
This post was made Thursday. You can find updated COVID-19 case information at the city's dashboard.