Health officials hope to prevent 4th of July COVID-19 case spike


MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Memphis and Shelby County health officials are working to prevent another spike in COVID-19 cases as the Fourth of July weekend approaches.

The Shelby County Health Department is warning people as they may plan to head out for the holiday.

“It’s the gathering, which leads to the close contact, which leads to the infection, so that’s why we are emphasizing separation,” Shelby County Health Officer Dr. Bruce Randolph said.

The percentage of positive test results has risen from 4.5% in mid-May to 10.3% after entering Phase 2 of the “Back to Business” plan.

Health officials said they are concerned by the number of asymptomatic people walking around, who feel fine but are testing positive and spreading the virus to others.

Community transmission is a big issue as people gather at bars, clubs and with family. It is why health officials continue to remind people that separation is important.

Officials said they are unsure how school will look when it opens in the fall, which is still on the table.

“The governor has said that we have to have 180 days of school instruction,” Shelby County Mayor Lee Harris said. “And we know we have to have six and a half hours of instruction for each one of those days. Those are the requirements, and there has been no relief of adjustments of those requirements to-date.”

When asked about returning to Phase 1 of the “Back to Business” plan, Mayor Harris said they are hoping to look at other ways of fighting the virus.

“We believe there are additional measures we can take short of returning to Phase 1, and we are hopeful everyone out there does their part, so we don’t have to go backwards,” Harris said.

Mayor Harris said focusing on areas where there is social activity, like bars, and providing additional protection in nursing homes and prisons will help avoid a potential return to Phase 1.

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