Shelby County delays moving to Phase 3 due to rising number of coronavirus cases
Memphis requiring masks, more reopenings on hold as COVID- 19 numbers grow
firstname.lastname@example.org Shelby County health officials on Monday announced that the county will not be moving to Phase 3 of the back-tobusiness plan this week as they had previously hoped.
Officials made the decision after the county saw its largest single-day increase of COVID-19 case with 256 new cases on Monday.
Last week, the county had announced that they expected to move be able to move to Phase 3 on June 15 barring any unforeseen rise in cases.
“We had all hoped to move in to Phase 3,” said Shelby County Health Department Director Alisa Haushalter.
“Clearly that’s not prudent at this time. If we had moved forward we are likely to have more damage economically and socially.” Speaking at a news conference, Haushalter said they looked at several factors including the upward trend in cases and reproductive rate, increased hospitalizations, and a decrease in the rate of their ability to do contact tracing in deciding to hold off on moving to Phase 3.
“What we have is an upward trend,” Haushalter said. “We know our cases are continuing to incline.”
This is the second time county health officials have extended Phase 2, which was set to end on June 8.
Phase 3 would allow restaurants, grocery and retail stores and gyms to open at 75 percent capacity. Capacity is restricted to 50 percent under Phase 2 guidelines.
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Haushalter said while they expected to see the number of cases go up due to Memorial Day, the new cases can not be traced to one event or linked to clusters of outbreaks at nursing homes.
“Those being admitted to the hospital represent our community more broadly, which is another sign we have broader community transmission that we need to get a handle on,” she said. “These are signs to us that there is a significant transmission within the community and that moving forward would put more people at risk.”
Haushaulter added that the county has significant testing capacity, but its ability to do contact tracing fell below 80 percent.
“That is also concerning to us,” Haushalter said.
As of Tuesday, June 16, there were 7,090 cases across Shelby County and 142 deaths reported. A total of 100,196 people have been tested. Tennessee has reported 31,160 cases of coronavirus.
Haushalter said the county will remain in Phase 2 until the data shows a downward or flat trend in the number of cases over a 14 day period.
Officials continue to urge residents to social distance and to wash their hands and wear masks in public to help stop the spread of the disease.
“We all have our part to play to reduce the impact of COVID-19 on our community,” Haushalter said.