Is Shelby County ready to move to next phase of reopening? Depends who you ask

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Another phase in Shelby County’s reopening process may be on the horizon next week and while some are ready to roll, others aren’t so sure the region is ready.

At Rizzo’s on South Main Street in Memphis, it’s been somewhat back to business since May 4, but with restrictions like limited seating spelled out in Phase 1 of the Back to Business Plan.

Chef Michael Patrick says entering Phase 2 too soon worries him and should be placed on the backburner.

“I personally don’t know if we’re ready to get into Phase 2,” Patrick said. “Getting groups together and the possibility of someone dining with us who might get the coronavirus and mentioning the words Rizzo, it would really hurt the name of the business.”

But on the other side of the county, Arlington Mayor Mike Wissman said his town is ready.

“I know I’ve been vocal about, ‘Give us a date for Phase 1 and Phase 2,” Wissman said. “We’re seeing the decline and the numbers from the health department. We’re just waiting for the directive to allow us to get to Phase 2.”

Dr. Jon McCullers is pediatrician in chief at Le Bonheur and a member of the back to business reopening task force.

He said the county is still seeing a downward trend in the number of cases, as well as the test positivity rate. Those are good signs, he said.

But is the task force close to recommending Phase 2 as early as Monday?

“If the trends all look great and our capacity is good, then we may talk with the mayors about moving into Phase 2. That would be the earliest day we talk about doing it,” McCullers said.

Still, there is one troubling area.

“The hospitalizations are the ones we are worried about a little bit. They have been going up in the last week. We do need the follow that through the week,” McCullers said.

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