Coronavirus outbreak at long-term care facility in Memphis highlights importance of vaccine, officials say

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Shelby County health officials say a recent outbreak at a local long-term care facility highlights the importance of getting the Covid-19 vaccine.

According to officials, a local nursing home recently encountered a situation where the U.K. variant was introduced into the population, infecting a staff member and at least 10 residents. No one developed serious symptoms, and health officials create that to the fact they were all vaccinated.

“We did have an interesting discovery over the past week,” said David Sweat, deputy director of the Shelby County Health Department. “We had an outbreak in one of our nursing homes or long-term care facilities.”

In Shelby County, there have been almost 1,700 deaths since the pandemic started. Ninety people have died in the past two months. While going over the data, they also noted that no one who has been fully vaccinated has died from coronavirus in Shelby County.

“It’s evidence that the vaccine is working to protect our most vulnerable population. Those folks had the virus introduced to them into the facility accidentally from the outside world,” Sweat said.

Moving forward, health officials said they will be changing their strategy when it comes to getting people vaccinated, focusing even more on what they call their ground game. They will have the Our Best Shot field team going to door to door in the lowest vaccine uptake neighborhoods and educating residents on the virus and vaccination.

And beginning next week, the city will offer a new service called Rides to Vaccines, available if you call 901-RIDE-901.

“They’ll take to the place that is closest to get a vaccine where you’ll get out of the car, go in, get vaccinated & get back in the car and they’ll take you back home,” McGowen said.

In addition, they will have a team go into local businesses and continue to reach out to people through the phonebank.

Currently, they are also looking into possibly setting up pods at local schools, making it easier to vaccinate minors over the age of 12.

This Saturday at the Pipkin Building, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., will be Tiger Vaccination Day. The first 1,000 people to get their shots will get tickets to see Memphis play Nicholas State on September 4 at the Liberty bowl.

Some of the mass vaccination sites will remain open for the foreseeable future, while others like the Greater Imani and Gill campus site will be shut down. Those decisions are based on how many people are coming to get vaccinated at each site.

The task force will also only be hosting its briefings on Thursday at noon moving forward.

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