MEMPHIS, Tenn. — With Thanksgiving now just two weeks away, COVID-19 cases are not slowing down in Shelby County.
There are 3,162 active cases of COVID-19 in Shelby County, and more than 7,000 people are under quarantine orders, health department director Alisa Haushalter said Thursday. There have been 41,125 cases since the pandemic began and 247 new cases since Wednesday.
Shelby County has experienced 604 deaths from COVID-19, an increase of 10 in 24 hours.
Those numbers have Mid-South health experts very alarmed, especially as more people will be gathering in a few weeks for the Thanksgiving holiday.
“As we go into the holiday season, I do think it’s important to think about the fact that these are individuals who were here the early part of the year that won’t be here for the holiday season and the impact that has on families who’ve lost loved ones to the COVID-19 pandemic,” Haushalter said.
The concern is gatherings could easily spark new outbreaks. The health department recommends you celebrate with only those in your own household.
“We know the tradition we tend to gather at grandma’s house and then go visits aunts and others to see what’s on the table for that day, we encourage you not to do so,” said Shelby County Health officer Bruce Randolph.
Haushalter said she is particularly concerned about the spread of the virus among younger people, saying 9.8% of patients who test positive are under age 18, 44% are under age 34, and 61% are under age 44.
It’s believed one in five patients are asymptomatic and four out of five have symptoms.
The area is feeling some strain in terms of hospital capacity, she said, but there is plenty of capacity for more testing.
“Many people are working while they are ill,” Haushalter said. “We ask you don’t go to work, don’t report to work if you have symptoms. Get tested.”
The health department is asking anyone who feels sick, even if the symptoms are minor, to stay home from work, get tested and if positive, stay home away from others.
As for businesses, the health department says it will crack down on those violating the current health directive.
“We will investigate and subsequently close for a minimum of two weeks, if you’re in violation,” Randolph said.
The health department director also says parents need to be aware that younger people are at risk for COVID-19 because of contact sports.