Health officials urge social distancing as people celebrate Memorial Day

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SHELBY COUNTY, Tenn. — Shelby County health officials want to remind people to continue practicing social distancing while they celebrate the holiday.

Memorial Day usually marks the unofficial start of summer, and people tend to head outside to celebrate. WREG went up to Shelby Forest State Park, where plenty of people were spending the holiday.

“All this kinda quarantine will make you go stir crazy,” Ethan Tate said. “So just to be able to actually be outside and among people but being able to keep a social distancing aspect.”

One family WREG spoke with said they headed out early so they could enjoy the outdoors before it got too crowded.

“We got here early so it wouldn’t be a large crowd, and that’s why we are leaving now,” Thelma Tate said. “…It’s getting more crowded, and I don’t want to compromise our social distancing.”

Dr. Steve Threlkeld with Baptist Hospital said there is an advantage to being out in the state parks. It is a wide open area with plenty of sunshine, which can help fight the virus.

However, people must stay six feet apart, use good hand hygiene and clean commonly shared items.

“You probably don’t want to have everybody file by and use the same spoon for baked beans because if one of you have COVID-19, you might very well pass it along to those items and then somebody else uses them and scratches their nose. You have just kinda contaminated yourself in that situation,” Dr. Threlkeld said.

Dr. Threlkeld said cases could go up as people head out, but not necessarily.

“If we carefully go back to increasing activities and increasing gatherings, and if we still maintain some of those social distancing items, it may actually be longer before we see those numbers go up,” Dr. Threlkeld said.

Some have asked if the heat will help fight the virus, but Dr. Threlkeld said he is not too sure.

“I think we can’t count on that happening. I hope it does,” Dr. Threlkeld said. “It very well may kinda help our efforts to squelch the virus. But, we need to do those other things we know work. Maybe it won’t have an effect. We need to keep doing those things we know will have an effect.”

Dr. Threlkeld said even though COVID-19 cases may go up from one day to the next, Memphis and Shelby County are trending downward overall.

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