Shelby County health officials: COVID data suggests challenging fall ahead

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. — The Memphis/Shelby County COVID-19 Joint Task Force provided an update on the status of the virus in the metro area.

On Tuesday, the Shelby County Health Department reported 36,793 cases with 566 deaths. That’s an increase of 301 cases in approximately 24 hours.

Over the past week, the area has averaged a little over 300 cases each day with at least two days reporting up to 400. The reproductive rate is sitting at 1.24 percent and our goal is 1 percent.

Approximately 70 percent of those with COVID-19 in Shelby County have symptoms.

As for the flu, Shelby County doesn’t have a lot of cases so far, but it is here.

The increasing numbers suggest Shelby County will have a very challenging fall with upwards of 70,000 cases being reported by the end of November, Dr. Alisa Haushalter said during a news conference Tuesday. She reinforced hand washing, social distancing, wearing masks, limiting the number of people at gatherings both in and outside of the home, and limiting travel.

“We’ve had over 36,000 cases. If we double that in a very short period of time, we will be at over 70,000 cases, and we estimate those numbers can be there at at the end of November,” Haushalter said.

Additionally, reproductive, test positivity and duplication rates are increasing and transmission rates have now gone up in surrounding counties. The only exception is Tate County, Mississippi.

At the same time, health officials said people living anywhere in the Mid-South should assume they live in an area with a high risk of COVID transmission.

Health officials said they recommend strategies such as face masking, social distancing and testing. Additionally, they said they have no plans to tighten health directives at this time, but are discussing it should the data support it.

But, health officials are asking people to have limited or small interactions during the holiday season, starting with Halloween.

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