Local health officials urge public to wear masks amid rise in coronavirus cases


MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Mid-South medical professionals are pushing for the public to wear masks as cases continue to rise.

Doctors and nurses say they are seeing firsthand the impact of COVID, and that’s why they’re stressing the importance of wearing masks and social distancing especially as we move into the holiday season.

Related: Health officials say state of the pandemic is getting worse in Shelby County

“We were at 57 inpatients at the beginning of October. In less than a month, the number of patients has more than doubled,” said Dr. Cassandra Howard, vice president and chief medical officer of Methodist Le Bonheur.

Since the end of all statewide restrictions, the health department says the positivity rate has seen a 7.2% increase, hospitalizations have gone up to 92%, and the county is seeing an average of 273 cases a day.

“Please follow the protocol of the health directive in your area and if there is no protocol, there is no mandate, create your own. Wear a mask,” said Dr. Keith Norman with Baptist Memorial Hospital.

Health officials say for now, wearing masks, practicing good hygiene and social distancing is the only effective way to slow the spread.

“I can’t emphasize enough it’s not political folks. Please I’m begging you and imploring you, wear your mask,” said St. Francis Hospital chief nursing officer Jennifer Chiusano.

And they say it could be the only way until the numbers go down, which could be several weeks or months down the line.

“The medical community is going to come up with a vaccine at some point,” said City of Memphis chief operation officer Doug McGowen. “But our job is that they need us to keep this pandemic at bay.”

Halloween is this weekend, and health officials encourage everyone to think twice before engaging in any social events, even if it’s in your own household.

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