Local health experts explain higher case numbers, warn about future

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Physicians warned people in Shelby County about the increasing number of COVID-19 cases Monday.

“Whenever you see an increase in numbers like this, it’s worrisome,” the University of Tennessee Health Science Center’s Dr. Scott Strome said.

“There’s no question if this doubles in the next month, everyone will be stressed,” Baptist Hospital infectious disease specialist Dr. Steve Threlkeld said.

They’re reacting to startling numbers of record highs when it comes to new cases and around 12% of people tested coming up positive. Threlkeld said that’s the most concerning number.

“When your rate is 10 or above, you need to do more testing because you’re not finding all the cases,” he said.

Some experts admitted to WREG they were too slow to advocate for mandating masks.

“I was against this initially because I really had hoped folks would do this by themselves,” Strome said.

That’s why Memphis City Councilman Dr. Jeff Warren co-sponsored an ordinance requiring masks last week.

He hoped people would adjust to the new requirement in the next two to three weeks.

“We’re getting the word out to people,” he said.

But the slow uptake made Vic Arenas, who was visiting from Chicago, question his stop in the Bluff City.

“Half the people are wearing masks, half are not. Makes you wonder,” Arenas said.

“As we’ve seen these increases, I’m supportive of moving forward with making that a policy,” Strome said of his change of heart.

He also said the county must do more testing to get a better handle of how prevalent the virus is in the community.

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