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MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Health experts say there’s evidence the numbers could be leveling off a bit, but they say it’s still too early to claim victory.

“Number one, hospitalizations are very high. Please do not add to the problem, Doug McGowen, City of Memphis Chief Operating Officer said.

There are some positive signs when it comes to COVID, the Omicron variant and hospitalizations in Shelby County. The number of patients appears to have plateaued at 760, but that number is still alarming for city and county leaders.

“That is a huge number of people. It’s the highest number of people we’ve ever had hospitalized for the longest period of time,” McGowen said.

Those hospitalizations are straining Memphis healthcare systems.

“Our hospitals are still feeling a significant amount of pressure both on the acute care wards and on the ICU wards and it’s manifesting itself into the emergency departments,” McGowen said.

“We are blessed with a great health system, but we want to do everything possible to alleviate some of the pressure on the them so they can continue to provide that quality care,” Dr. Michelle Taylor, Shelby County Health Department Director said.

Officials are asking people not to go the hospital to be tested for COVID.

They also say some relief is on the way after the county commission this week approved the purchase of thousands of at-home rapid testing kits to be distributed countywide.

“Very soon you should be able to have delivered to your home tests that you can take, and the Shelby County health department and Shelby county government are offering some of those tests,” McGowen said.

People are still being encouraged to get tested, vaccinated and to mask up. This comes one day after the Germantown Municipal School District decided to do away with its mask mandate.

Dr. Michelle Taylor didn’t directly address the Germantown decision but did talk about mask requirement for schools covered by the Americans with Disabilities Act.

“I believe i commented by saying what the rules are, which is right now we are under a federal injunction in S.C. that says schools covered by ADA are required to have masks,” Dr. Taylor said.

COVID task force members also say be on the lookout for people posing as government officials coming to homes passing out free masks. They say these people are not affiliated with the city or county.