Shelby County health officials ‘alarmed’ by spike in COVID-19 cases


Phase 3 may be delayed; health department may have to mandate masks

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Memphis and Shelby County reported 190 new cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday, the largest increase since April 24, health officials said.

The new cases bring the county’s total to 5,314 cases, county health officer Dr. Bruce Randolph said. There were also four new deaths reported, bringing the county’s total to 113.

“Our numbers are increasing and we are alarmed about that,” Randolph said.

The increase may delay the county from moving into Phase 3 of reopening which includes things like increasing capacity at gyms, businesses and restaurants from 50 percent to 75 percent.

Randolph said he did not think the county would be able to move into Phase 3 at the moment.

“We are really concerned and will be monitoring the next couple of weeks to see if the spike continues,” Randolph said.

In the meantime, he encouraged everyone to wear facial coverings, practice social distancing and keep washing their hands.

Randolph said if the increase in cases continues, the health department will have no choice but to mandate wearing masks outside of people’s homes.

“We are not there yet,” he said.

The spike comes a little more than a week after Memorial Day. Randolph said he was not aware of any specific event on that holiday that might have led to an increase, but said more people were out and gathering over the weekend, which might have an impact on numbers.

The number of people tested in Shelby County is 78,104, Randolph said. The positivity rate for those tests is 6.8%, while the fatality rate from COVID-19 in the county is 2.1%

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