Health department asking some to self-quarantine after holiday travel to COVID ‘hotspots’

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. — If you have traveled to any place considered a COVID-19 hotspot this holiday weekend, the Shelby County health director is asking that you self-quarantine.

Health officials called this holiday weekend in Shelby County a success but admit we won’t really know for sure for at least another week.

“People generally show symptoms on day five, but oftentimes they don’t seek testing until day seven or eight. That’s why we look at the eighth or 10th day. We can also see an increase from day 14-18,” Health Department Director Alisa Haushalter said.

Many people traveled this weekend, and Haushalter said if you visited a hotspot, you should self-quarantine. Health officials have not said what is considered a “hotspot.”

Haushalter said a hotspot is a geographic region where community transmission is known to be widespread. Several hotspots have been identified over the course of the pandemic — Wuhan, of course, northern Italy, and Washington State, New York City, and Louisiana here in the U.S.

The CDC has a domestic travel page with maps that show COVID activity in each state:

 https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/travelers/travel-in-the-us.html.

That page also has some good general information about how to protect yourself while traveling by various means, train, air, etc., Haushalter said.

Haushalter said they know COVID-19 is spreading in households and they expect that to also happen in the workplace as more offices open back up.

“We have been averaging about 100 cases a day over the weekend. That’s a little higher than we had previously,” she said.

Cases continue to increase at senior care facilities as they ramp up testing. You can see the list of outbreaks is growing.

“I want to be very clear they are not under control. This is an exceptionally vulnerable population,” Haushalter said.

These next few weeks, Haushalter and her team will monitor the data to determine if more businesses can reopen next month, and also how best to prepare for the possibility another wave of the virus comes back this fall.

“Particularly as we go into flu season, it’ll be a little more difficult to tease out who has flu and who has COVID, and in some cases, who have both,” she said.

The health department said they’ve already started preparing for the fall, like increasing staff and testing efforts.

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