SHELBY COUNTY, Tenn. (WMC) - The Shelby County Health Department says phase two of the Shelby County Back-to-Business plan begins Monday. The department made the notification in a mid-morning media release.
The health department says local leaders made the decision by monitoring the growth in new cases, hospital capacity, public health system capacity and testing capacity. The department said last week they expected a decision by Monday, and data studied over the weekend did not deter them from advancing reopening efforts.
“We have made significant progress, which is what allows us to move to phase two today, but we continue to have work ahead of us,” said Alisa Haushalter, Shelby County Health Department director.
Officials said case counts for the virus and metrics like testing capabilities are at sufficient levels to proceed. Community testing sites still have many available appointment slots daily, something leaders indicated was being observed in other areas of the country.
“We can have less people who are symptomatic, so they are not seeking testing. We could have less transmission within the community, so there’s less demand. But overall, the focus is on capacity. We want to make sure for folks who need testing, there can be testing,” said Haushalter.
During phase two, restaurants and retail stores will still operate at 50% capacity, which is unchanged from phase one. Civic buildings, churches and gyms move up to 50% capacity.
Sports facilities, like basketball courts open back up, with limits on how many people may use them.
Purposeful gatherings are permitted to expand from 10 to 50 people provided social distancing is followed.
Nail salons, spas and tattoo parlors are permitted to reopen under the same guidelines as hairstylists and barbers in phase one.
“This is a different way of life, and I think we all have to be patient with each other as we try to learn new skills around social distance, particularly if we are waiting in line, going to the grocery store, how to manage that and stay six feet from others,” said Haushalter.
Phase two also permits attractions and museums to reopen. Officials at Graceland said they will reopen Thursday, May 21 with temperature checks for employees and customers and tours reduced to 25-percent capacity along with other safety protocols.
Haushalter said members of the Shelby County Health Department met with Graceland officials to sign off on their plan.
She indicated contact tracing would be key to identifying any spikes in infections associated with the reopening of attractions or the permitting of groups with up to 50 people in attendance.
For details on the next phase of the back-to-business plan, click here.
On Monday, the health department confirmed 3,761 coronavirus cases and 85 deaths across Shelby County -- an increase of 42 cases and one death since Sunday.
SCHD reports more than 65 percent of residents have recovered from the deadly virus and more than 52,227 have been tested.
The Shelby County Health Department has focused on several zip codes with the highest COVID-19 cases. Below is the most recent map of hot spots across the county.
Although the virus is most dangerous to elderly and individuals with underlying conditions, the groups with the most cases are ages 25 to 34 (17%) and ages 45 to 54 (16%).