Coronavirus begins to put a strain on Shelby County hospital system

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Shelby County health officials say the spread of coronavirus is beginning to put a strain on the county’s resources.

Shelby County Health Department Director Alisa Haushalter says there are several areas where they’re seeing a strain on resources.

“We really are straining the public health system, we are beginning to strain the hospital system, we know our testing system is strained as well and our numbers are going up,” Haushalter said.

Haushalter’s message comes after we asked her about high numbers of hospitalizations over this past Fourth of July weekend. Yesterday, she told Shelby County commissioners she’s received reports of emergency rooms being backed up. 

In Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland’s May 23 COVID-19 update, he said on there were 53 patients in ICUs across Shelby County. By the Fourth of July, that number had risen to 106. Health experts say hospitals already tend to be busier during the summer and on a holiday weekend

“I don’t want to be an alarmist but these are all red flags,” Haushalter said.

Haushalter says sustaining the current growth rate of COVID-19 is not limited to hospital capacity, testing capacity and public health capacity. 

“It’s actually the staffing to be able to provide support for all of the things that we need to do,” Haushalter said.

She’s asking everyone to do what they can.

“It really won’t be long until we’re in flu season so we want to do all that we can to get COVID under control before we enter flu season in the fall,” Haushalter said.

The director said they issued the mandate to wear a mask in public to once again flatten the curve for an acceptable new normal.

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