Memphis, Shelby County to remain in Phase 2 of reopening, health officials say

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Shelby County is likely to stay in Phase 2 of the back-to-business reopening plan for the foreseeable future, while masks will be a way of life for some time, health officials said Tuesday.

That’s because the area still is seeing community transmission of the coronavirus, said health department director Dr. Alisa Haushalter, addressing the community for the first time in several days Tuesday.

“It’s critical that each of us do our part to reduce the transmission of COVID-19 in our community,” Dr. Haushalter said.

A predicted shift into Phase 3 was delayed last week after the county experienced a spike in COVID cases. At least one county commissioner suggested a move back to Phase 1.

“Unfortunately if our numbers continue to rise particularly if they rise exponentially or our system becomes overwhelmed either in healthcare systems or public health care systems we could run the risk of moving back to Phase 1,” Dr. Haushalter said.

In Shelby County the total number of cases reported was 8,210 on Tuesday with 166 deaths. Approximately 5,662 people have recovered from the virus in Shelby County and 2,375 are still battling it.

Of the 166 deaths, Haushalter said 153 were confirmed COVID-related, while the other 13 were probable.

More than 380 new cases were reported between Friday and Saturday, and more than 200 on Monday.

Coronavirus case count update

Haushalter said the health department is now including probable cases of COVID-19 into the total case count, accounting for some of the increase. There was also extensive community testing that took place on the 15th and 16th, plus a backlog in at least one laboratory that contributed to those numbers, she said.

The director reminded the public to keep their faces covered when in public, at the workplace and when visiting vulnerable people.

“Masks make a difference,” she said, also reiterating the importance of hand washing and remaining isolated when under quarantine orders.

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