Positive COVID tests are climbing in the Memphis area, and doctors hope mandatory masks will help


MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Shelby County has surpassed 12,000 COVID-19 cases, and doctors say they are concerned about the rising positive rate for tests.

The county reported an additional 405 COVID-19 cases Sunday, and 190 Monday. While the overall positive rate for tests has been 8.2%, that rate went up to 16% between Sunday and Monday.

That’s troubling to infectious disease expert Dr. Manoj Jain.

“There’s clearly a sense of concern when we begin to see the positivity rate go above 10 percent,” Jain said.

What’s so significant about the positivity rate? The positivity rate tells you there is a lot of infection among the population that’s being tested. It also gives medical experts and local leaders a better gauge on exactly how the virus is impacting the community.

“There are many factors that can lead to an increase in a number of cases, but whenever you begin to see an increase in positivity rate, that means clearly there is a greater spread of the virus in the community,” Jain said.

COVID Daily Case Update

He’s hopeful a newly announced mask mandate in Shelby County will help lower transmission — but that won’t happen if people don’t comply.

Alonzo McCoy said he won’t leave home without one. He says he does it out of consideration for others.

“I’m concerned for the whole Memphis community. We are all family out here, so I want everyone to be safe,” he said.

It’s an attitude doctors hope everyone will adopt.

“When we’re in a pandemic we need to be showing respect to one, and this is a way of showing respect to others and protecting yourself as well,” Jain said.

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