Shelby County Health Department officials investigating uptick of 128 positive COVID-19 cases

Shelby County Health Department officials investigating uptick of 128 positive COVID-19 cases

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - Public health officials Wednesday reported a spike in the number of COVID-19 cases from the day prior, as well as a spike in the positivity rate. What could be behind the uptick is under investigation, leaders said.

The increase of 128 new cases of COVID-19 is the largest one-day increase of more than 100 cases in roughly a week and a half.

"We are taking a deeper dive to look at what’s contributed to that slight increase that we saw in that 24-hour period.

Shelby County Health Department Director Alisa Haushalter said transmission could be linked to the Mother’s Day weekend back on May 9 and May 10.

The county positivity rate, or percentage of positive tests, has also been creeping up. Wednesday it was logged at 9.2 percent.

Officials said they want that number to stay below 10 percent but advised positivity rate and case counts alone are not all they consider when examining the impact of the virus.

“There could be a point where that is a significant driver of decision making, but I’ve noted before it’s really a constellation of all the metrics that we look at,” said Haushalter. “And we are looking at not only the transmission rate that’s occurring but can we accommodate that through public health practice, through our healthcare systems.”

“We are in this together, and this is no time to let our guard down,” said Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland.

Leaders said Wednesday statistics locally show social distancing is working, but residents still must take the pandemic seriously through measures like hand washing, covering their cough, and the wearing of masks in public.

“It takes almost a full month to double the cases that we have, and that does mean we are doing well with social distancing,” said Haushalter. " And the policies put in place have had significant positive impact."

The health department was asked how people should handle social gatherings with the Memorial Day weekend approaching, as gatherings in the county of up to 50 people are permitted in phase two of the Back-to-Business plan.

Haushalter said any group activity should be held outside, with mask wearing when you are around people who do not live in your household. She also said shared utensils, like at a potluck, should be avoided. She suggested designating one person to serve all food and making sure that person is wearing gloves.

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