Health officials: Rural counties contributing to Shelby County’s COVID hospitalizations

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. — The Shelby County Health Department says the countywide mask mandate is working, but that rural counties without the mandate are adding to Shelby County’s COVID-19 caseload.

During an update at Monday’s Shelby County Commission meeting, Dr. Alisa Haushalter said that many of the new coronavirus cases in Shelby County hospitals originated outside of the county.

“One hospital on one day last week, so the end of last week, about 41 percent of their Covid admissions were outside Shelby County, and another hospital around 23 percent,” Haushalter told WREG.

According to state health department data, Shelby County is averaging 4,800 positive Covid tests for every 100,000 residents.

Many nearby Tennessee counties have higher rates. Fayette County is at 5,000 cases for every 100,000 people and Hardeman County at 8,500. Tipton County has a rate of 4,300 cases for every 100,000 people, which is slightly lower than Shelby County’s.

“People who live in rural counties come back and forth to Shelby County to work. They also come here for hospitalization so it’s gonna impact our community through transmission,” said Haushalter.

Haushalter says mask usage went from around 50 percent to more than 90 percent in Shelby County after a mask mandate was introduced this summer.

She told commissioners that there was only three percent chance of transmitting coronavirus while wearing a mask versus 17 percent without one.

If current trends continue, Haushalter is predicting another surge of the virus.

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