What you need to know as vaccination efforts continue in Shelby County

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A woman receives a COVID vaccine in Memphis on Dec. 30, 2020.

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — The Memphis/Shelby County COVID-19 Joint Task Force provided an update on the pandemic on Thursday, saying so far more than 24,000 people have been vaccinated, representing 1.89% of the population.

The Shelby County Health Department is still vaccinating those in the 1a1 category, which includes healthcare workers and those over 75 years of age, at the Pipkin Building. That location is one of the permanent sites for vaccination efforts, and the health department said more similiar sites are coming along with mobile sites.

Last week, the health department was told the state will be providing 8,900 doses to the county each week of January. Those shots are being given to that priority group by appointment only and all appointment slots have been filled for January.

More slots have not been made available as the health department does not know when they will receive more vaccine and how much. Health officials will announce when more vaccine and slots become available.

The local health care systems are still vaccinating their staff members.

Local pharmacies are starting to receive the vaccine as well, but those shots will only be made available to nursing homes.

Overall, this vaccination campaign will last many months, Dr. Alisa Haushalter said. They are planning for it to take all of 2021 to get everyone vaccinated who wants to be.

If you have a question about COVID-19 or a complaint, you can contact the Shelby County Health Department at (901) 222-MASK. Once available, appointments can be made by calling (901) 222-SHOT.

Health Directive 16

Health Directive 16 remains in effect until January 22. Health officials said they are continuing to watch the numbers up until that time to determine what course of action to take.

They noted that while the numbers from the post-holiday surge have stabilized, they are still higher than health officials would like. With that in mind, they could extend the order or make minor adjustments to it.

Dr. Bruce Randolph said now is not the time to let your foot off the gas and urged residents to stay the course when it comes to following the guidelines. Wash your hands, wear a mask, social distance and quarantine if you are feeling ill.

Employers are still encouraged to allow employees to work from home if possible.

Latest data:

The Shelby County Health Department reported 76,043 total cases and 548 new cases Thursday morning. Previous numbers for the week were 508, 691, 639 and 479.

There have been 1,093 deaths. The health department says 31 new deaths were reported in the last 24 hours. The deaths account for 1.4% of all cases in Shelby County.

The number of cases considered recovered is 67,946, or 89.4%. There are 7,004 known active cases, which accounts for 9.2%.

Usage of local Acute Care and ICU beds was 92% and 95% respectively as of January 13. There are 535 COVID patients in the hospital as of 5 p.m. Wednesday.

There is also concern regarding hospital staffing especially with hospitals having medical staff in isolation and quarantine.

On January 5, the Shelby County Health Department also released statistics concerning the leading cause of death in the county. In 2019, heart disease came in as number one with more than 2,000 deaths attributed to the condition followed by cancer with 1,600.

As of this time, COVID will claim the number three spot. By comparison, influenza was number 10 in 2019 with 173 deaths. According to those statistics, covid has proven to be five times deadlier than flu in Shelby County.

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