Shelby County gets ‘D’ grade for social distancing

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. — New numbers suggest Shelby County residents aren’t doing enough to stay apart.

The county currently has a “D” grade when it comes to social distancing. The grading is done by a company called Unacast, which compiles data by tracking cell phone locations.

According to the numbers, Shelby County residents are traveling 25-40% less since the outbreak and going to nonessential places 60-65% less.

In the Nashville area in Davidson County, residents are traveling 40-55% less and visiting nonessential places more than 70% less. Davidson County currently has a “C” grade.

“What the means for Davidson County is that two weeks from now, they will be experiencing less number of patients who are sick, who are critically sick and in the ICU compared to [Shelby County],” infectious disease expert Dr. Manoj Jain said.

Dr. Jain is a member of Shelby County’s COVID-19 Task Force. He expects a surge in cases in two weeks if social distancing doesn’t improve.

“It looks like people are saying, ‘Hey, we did it for a couple of weeks, things are better,’” he said. “People see that it’s working, and now they’re letting down their guard.”

A lot of people in Shelby County are doing their best to keep their distance from others, and a lot of essential businesses are doing their parts, too. That includes Cordelia’s Market on Mud Island, where only 10 people are allowed inside at a time.

The numbers from Unacast were better last week when Shelby County’s grade stood at a “C.”

“Now, it comes to individual responsibility,” Dr. Jain said. “We can definitely do a lot better.”

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