New coronavirus directive from health department takes effect Monday

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. — The Shelby County Health Department issued a new health directive that takes effect Monday.

The directive sets new rules for restaurants, courts, nursing homes and schools. For instance, restaurants may only serve alcohol with food, and they must close at 10 p.m.

Read the new health directive here

Restaurants are also prohibited from playing music that is so loud it would require customers to raise their voices to be heard.

The new health directive sets up trip wires that determine when Shelby County gets to open more businesses and at what point the county will be have to hit the rewind button and shut down again.

The directive mandates the county must get down to an average of 180 new cases per day and get its positivity rate to 10% in order to reopen bars.

Infectious disease expert Dr. Stephen Threlkeld said its good to see local officials setting guidelines, but they need more guidance from the CDC.

“It’s helpful to have federal or larger guideline that tell you what sort of things should make you change what you’re doing,” Dr. Threlkeld said.

Shelby County must average 75 cases per day for two consecutive weeks and get the positivity rate to less than 5% before the county allows businesses to increase capacity and crowd size and start up special events again

“It’s just going to depend on things we can control,” Dr. Threlkeld said. “If we individually add up to a community that controls it, but we can’t control what each other’s activity are, so we could do it next week if we practice those things that we know work.”

We might find ourselves going back to restricting full-service restaurants to curbside only, no sporting activities and living under a curfew again if positive COVID cases jump to 450 cases a day.  The threshold for going back to our stay at home order and forcing schools to shut down again is 750 cases a day.

“I would say it’s not terribly easy to move from here with those trip wires particularly backward, and I think that some of the folks from the health department did comment taken into account into these guidelines were the public realities here,” Dr. Threlkeld said.

Dr. Threlkeld said there’s nothing in the directive that says if cases spike once school starts, the districts can’t make the decision to close school buildings. In fact, that’s something he advises.

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