Health officials: COVID-19 cases increasing after Labor Day holiday, schools reopening

Coronavirus

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Shelby County health officials said the county has seen an increase in new COVID-19 cases since the recent reopening of schools and Labor Day weekend.

On Thursday, the county reported 293 new cases, for a total of 29,797 cases.

“Today was pivotal because we had almost 300 cases,” health department director Alisa Haushalter said. “We’ve come a long way in six months but, as anticipated, we are seeing an increase in cases related to Labor Day weekend.”

Haushalter said any decision on changes to the county’s health directive would wait until after the weekend.

David Sweat, chief of epidemiology for the county, said 135 students at the University of Memphis have tested positive for coronavirus. Sweat said the health department is working with the university to mitigate the spread of the virus.

Shelby County Schools has postponed all its sports activities over COVID concerns. Health officials say those decisions are totally up to the school districts, yet they have maintained their stance that contact sports can mean COVID spread.

“I know in the football huddle they are very close to each other. There is a lot of yelling that goes on. There is a lot of close contact that happens,” Haushalter said. “So, it will be very easy to expel the droplet and to expel the virus just by the nature of the sport itself.”

Health officials say parents should make sure their kids are healthy and make sound decisions about playing sports. And if anyone knows someone in their organization has a positive test, they need to report it so the health department can isolate and began to contact trace.

It seems some cases reported were not initially linked to University of Memphis students, so health officials didn’t connect the dots.

“It’s gonna be critical that we strive to contain increased transmission at this point,” Haushalter said.

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