MEMPHIS, Tenn. — As people look to celebrate a long Labor Day weekend, Tennessee now leads the nation in new coronavirus cases in adults and children, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Dr. Michelle Taylor, the Shelby County Health Department Director, calls this troubling for Memphis and the state.

“It’s very concerning that we have those increasing percentages in the pediatric population, and we’re doing everything possible to get the message out that we can get this under control, but we need everyone’s help,” Taylor said.

As of Thursday, more than 720 people had been hospitalized, more than 518 are in acute care and more than 200 people are in ICU, along with more than 160 people needing to use a ventilator.    

“Our hospitals are still strained. They’re still holding a lot of people in the emergency room that they can’t put up into rooms,” Taylor said. “So, we’re cautiously optimistic.”

“Our health care workers are having to work very hard,” said City of Memphis COO Doug McGowen. “Our hospitals are having to manage bed by bed and patient by patient.”

The numbers are surging as large outdoor events will be taking place this weekend, such as the University of Memphis Tigers taking on Nicholls State at the Liberty Bowl Stadium.

“We depend on everybody in the community to do their part,” Taylor said. “We can put out rules and regulations and do as much as we can, but we also depend on Shelby County residents to use good common sense practices to protect themselves, families, and community members.”

Taylor says the message is the same for this holiday weekend: get vaccinated and wear a mask when possible.

“We are going into a long weekend. We want to be able to enjoy family members and friends,” Taylor said. “So, we want to make sure masked up and if we’re not vaccinated, we need to make sure that we are getting vaccinated in Shelby County.”

Shelby County health leaders also brought in the Mexican consulate based in Little Rock to address the Latinx community about the importance to getting vaccinated.