MEMPHIS, Tenn.– The pandemic continues to cause more challenges and those challenges are why Shelby County health leaders are asking for help.

Almost two years into the pandemic, COVID-19 and now the Omicron variant continue to put a strain on Memphis area hospitals with more patients and fewer staff.

The effects of COVID are also impacting first responders and emergency care.

“We are down firefighters and paramedics just like they are doctors and nurses and respiratory therapists, medical assistants at the hospitals. So, amplified times two or three in the environment, but we’re doing the very best you can that when you call and need us, we can be there,” said Chief Operating Officer Doug McGowan.

It’s why an SOS is being sent to the state for help.

“They reached out to the governor and asked for some policy relief things and to get some relief in staffing from the national guard or the department of defense,” McGowan said.

As hospitalizations rise, there’s a new demand for more people to get tested either at testing sites or using those hard to find at home test kits, but some relief could be on the way.

“We’ve been in communication with Tennessee Department of health to get even more rapid test kits in the county. We’re nearing that and will have more of a plan next week,” said Shelby County Health Department Director Dr. Michelle Taylor.

There’s also been some concern about fraudulent or fake coronavirus testing sites popping up across the country and apparently in Shelby County. If you suspect a pop up COVID testing site to be fake, you’re encouraged to call the police.

“We have had a few reports and those are being followed up by the Memphis police department,” Taylor said. “So, if you encounter a location, you have questions about the best thing to do is call the police, but you can also report it to our 222-Mask number as well so we can investigate and see what’s going on.”

The health department is now providing booster shots of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine for children ages 12 to 15. The boosters were previously approved for teens 16 and older and for adults.