MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Memphis is extending its Safer At Home order through April 21, Mayor Jim Strickland said Monday, as he pleaded with residents to stay home as much as possible.
The order, which encourages people to stay at home unless they have essential business and health needs, was supposed to expire on April 7.
The surge of COVID-19 is expected to hit the area in two to four weeks. What citizens do today will determine the size of that surge, Strickland said.
The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation released information Monday stating that cases will peak in Tennessee in mid-April, with 25 deaths a day projected. Strickland said the local group is also looking at projections from Vanderbilt University and other sources.
To date, 8,915 people in Shelby County have been tested, with 789 positive cases and 13 deaths, the health department reported.
Strickland said the coronavirus is three times more infectious and 10 times more deadly than the flu.
“On a personal level my prayers are with the individuals suffering with this virus in the hospital right now …,” Strickland said.
One business so far, a car wash on Southern Avenue, has been closed and cited for not complying with health orders, the mayor said.
Strickland said the state will likely announce a second new care facility in Memphis on Monday, in addition to the one previously announced on Jackson Avenue.
The city has worked hard to expand testing at the Tiger Lane site, and the task force is working on more sites, he said.
Dr. Bruce Randolph said the health department found 16 churches holding services on Sunday. Most were cooperative and in compliance with health orders, he said.
Churches are considered “essential” but required to host no more than 10 people at six feet apart.
“We’re treating churches just as we’re treating all other essential businesses,” Randolph said.
Strickland said the COVID-19 task force is coordinating with government and nonprofit agencies to house the homeless during the shelter order.
The task force now has two hotels with 60 rooms to house women and families for the next 30 days, Strickland said. The task force is working on a site to house men.
The COVID-19 task force is jointly chaired by Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland and Shelby County Mayor Lee Harris, with more than 100 members, Strickland said.