MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Shelby County Commissioners just announced that Tennessee is at an all-time high in COVID cases.
As of Sunday, Shelby County Commissioners said the state was averaging almost 11,000 new cases daily.
Dr. Michelle Taylor, Director of Shelby County Health Department, said hospitals have yet to fully recover from staffing issues since the Delta variant surge.
“Even though Omicron is causing milder symptoms in many of our population, if you think about the sheer number of cases we have, and the fact that a percentage of those are still going to have to be hospitalized, even a small percentage of such a large number will tax our hospitals even more than they are already taxed,” Dr. Taylor said.
According to the latest data available, Shelby County is averaging more than 2,300 new cases per day.
This is about the highest number since the beginning of the pandemic, and nearly 50 percent of all COVID tests across the county are coming back positive.
Infectious disease specialist Dr. Manoj Jain says it is a painful reality.
“It’s a tragedy to see otherwise healthy people with three or four children who are young dying,” he said. It’s just painful. I wish I could take many of you through the ICU and see what I see everyday.”
For almost an hour, Dr. Jain and Dr. Taylor made their case on how the pandemic is still having a devastating impact in the new year.
“People are just not realizing the risk of dying is incredibly high and of being hospitalized is incredibly high if they’re not vaccinated,” Dr. Jain said.
The unvaccinated and the Omicron variant are putting a strain on hospitals and healthcare workers.
“That’s another way to remind people if you’re having mild symptoms and don’t need emergency care, please don’t go to the E.R,” Dr. Taylor said.
To help slow the transmission of COVID-19 in Shelby County, Dr. Taylor tells WREG the health department is asking the governor to return some of its authority that was taken away last year.
“A letter went to the governor last week requesting that he consider an executive order to return some of the powers to the Shelby County Health Department to allow us to institute some mitigation efforts,” Dr. Taylor said.
Taylor told commissioners even though they can not mandate it, they are still encouraging businesses to have employees work from home.
“Either you will voluntarily have an alternate work schedule, or you will be forced into it,” Dr. Taylor said. “So, remember that as you think about the sheer numbers of the people we have ill in our community.”
Dr. Taylor said 50 percent of our population is not fully vaccinated and only one-sixth of Shelby Countians have gotten their booster shots.