Coronavirus cases increase in Shelby County as some businesses reopen

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SHELBY COUNTY, Tenn. — As Shelby County businesses enter phase one of reopening, the number of cases in the county continues to increase.

Early last week, Shelby County announced new cases numbering in the 30s and 40s. It looked like the county could flatten the curve when officials announced the back-to-business framework.

But now, that number more than doubled with more than 100 new cases in Monday’s report.

“If you exclude the targeted testing in the nursing homes, then we’re still stable and level,” Dr. Jon MCCullers with the University of Tennessee Health Science Center said.

McCullers is also one of the lead physicians on the county’s COVID-19 task force. Officials said he’s the one who reassured them Shelby County could move forward with phase one of its back-to-business plan, which allows retailers and restaurants to open at limited capacity Monday.

“In terms of community spread, we’re confident that’s at a stable amount,” McCullers said. “A lot of those increased case numbers come these directed testing at places like nursing homes and jails.”

The Shelby County Health Department is monitoring clusters of cases at 13 different assisted living facilities, and some have as many as 20 cases.

WREG also learned the state was testing hundreds of people in county jails last week. Those tests happen on Fridays and Saturdays, which inflates some of the weekend statistics.

McCullers feels comfortable with some businesses reopening Monday, though experts have warned they’ll pay close attention to the data and may reverse course if necessary.

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