MEMPHIS, Tenn. –Some good news going into the weekend: The number of COVID patients hospitalized in Shelby County has finally started to drop.
The University of Tennessee Health Science Center just released its weekly report on hospitalizations in Shelby County. The number fell every day this week.
There are about 650 COVID patients that are currently being treated at hospitals in Shelby county. That’s still very high, but an improvement over a week ago when more than 700 patents were being treated.
Dr. Sandy Arnold, division chief of Pediatric Infectious Diseases at Le Bonheur and a professor at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center, says hospital admissions do appear to be going down at Le Bonheur. Le Bonheur had reached a peak of pediatric cases in the range of about 33 cases per day a couple of weeks ago to just eight on Friday.
“We have actually seen a decline in the number of COVID-19 cases of children hospitalized, which is really good news and, more importantly, we might be seeing a downtrend in adults’ hospitals,” Arnold said. “I still think things are extremely tight.”
“We in Shelby county have one of the most aggressive approaches from across the state. We have instituted a universal mask mandate in our K-12 schools, daycare and Pre-Ks and we also have a universal mask mandate in our indoor public spaces,” Shelby County Health Director Dr. Michelle Taylor said at a press conference Thursday. “Right now, we’re not putting any other measures in place. It doesn’t matter if it’s a large event or restaurant we’re not putting any other measure in place right now but nothing is off the table.”
A UTHSC graph shows Shelby County hospitalized COVID patients from the past 14 days. The red line shows the peaks and valleys of admissions with recent a recent decline, but there’s still cause for concern.
“Our hospitals are very full. What we cannot afford is more people seeking treatment for the COVID condition,” said City of Memphis COO Doug McGowen.
There is also a new milestone to report in the fight against the pandemic. Half of the Shelby county population is now vaccinated. It’s an improvement, but still below the health department’s goal of 70%.
Mississippi’s average COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations have also decreased over the last week. But doctors say the state still has a long way to go with, so few people vaccinated.
“It’s overwhelmed our health system and caused an unnecessary number of deaths,” said Mississippi Health Officer Dr. Thomas Dobbs. “Fortunately, we are starting to see an inflection point with somewhat of a decline in hospitalizations and daily cases.”
Arkansas hospitalizations have dropped to the lowest point since August, with 27 new ICU beds coming online in September.
“So, we’re trying to get ahead of the curve if there is a curve, if it goes up,” said Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson. “Hopefully, it’ll go down. But we want to bring on new beds in September to meet any additional need that will be out there.”
Back in Memphis, Arnold says these are steps to help us all avoid being hospitalized for COVID.
“We need to keep doing what we’re doing, which is strongly encouraging or perhaps depending on your role requiring people to get vaccinated, wearing masks and avoiding mass public gatherings,” Arnold said. “We know that if people relax any of their precautions now, things would go right back up again.”
Arnold says if you’re in a large gathering this weekend such as a concert or football game where people are singing or cheering loudly, keep your mask on to avoid turning the event into a super spreader.