New model shows Shelby County coronavirus case surge in November

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SHELBY COUNTY, Tenn. — A new predictive model shows a surge of hundreds of COVID-19 cases in Shelby County in November.

That surge could include anywhere from 450 to 600 new patients, but doctors believe there is a way to make sure that doesn’t happen.

The state of Tennessee reported more than 4,100 cases of COVID-19 in Shelby County on Friday, which is up 93 cases from Thursday.

If one model is correct, that number could continue to significantly rise.

The Shelby County Health Department said data from a new calculator from the University of Pennsylvania shows based on where we are currently, our surge is most likely going to hit in mid-late November with a hospitalizations between 450 and 600 COVID-19 patients.

Something to keep in mind when hearing these numbers is that models often change, as the numbers change. 

Dr. Manoj Jain, an infectious disease specialist who has been at the forefront of analyzing COVID-19 in the Mid-South, said a few months ago, models showed a peak in May too.

“Yes, these models change, and the reason these models change is because we are making an impact,” Dr. Jain said.

Dr. Jain said Shelby County is prepared if that late surge does come.

“Yes, we have an alternative care facility, there’s room in the hospital, so we are, but you know that’s 450-500 people who are really sick,” he said. “We need to avoid that.”

If we want COVID-19 to end, we need to make a greater effort of reducing the transmission number, Dr. Jain said.

“The transmission number is at about one,” he said. “So that means one person is spreading the infection to one person.”

Memphis City Council member Dr. Jeff Warren, who is also on the COVID-19 task force, said although we’re starting to reopen the city, we must still be vigilant to keep the curve flat.

“You still do social distancing, you still cover your face, you still wash your hands frequently,” Dr. Warren said. “Any time you touch your mask, you wash your hands. So about 10-20 times washing your hands daily.”

Both doctors said how we act this weekend, Memorial Day, can set the tone for down the road. So it’s important to practice social distancing, good hand washing skills and wear a mask.

The Shelby County Health Department gave WREG the following statement about a potential surge:

“The Data Subcommittee for the Joint Task Force updates our projections of the future surge dates and levels every week. Right now the best model we have is the CHIME calculator from the University of Pennsylvania, and based on where we are today the model shows our surge is most likely going to hit in mid-late November with a hospitalized census 450-600 COVID-19 patients. Of course, all of this is subject to change based on actual data, but we re-run this information through the model every week in the data subcommittee.”

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