Public health officials urge caution ahead of Memorial Day weekend amid COVID-19 pandemic

Public health officials urge caution ahead of Memorial Day weekend amid COVID-19 pandemic

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - This Memorial Day weekend will be unlike any other in history, and public health officials in Shelby County said Thursday celebrations should not be business as usual.

“You have spring fever, and you want to be out and enjoy friends,” said Dr. Bruce Randolph, the county’s health officer. “Do so, but do so in a healthy and safe manner.”

Phase two of the county’s Back-to-Business plan permits gatherings of up to 50 people.

“What we do this weekend will have an affect on what we do later,” said Randolph. “Let’s have a good memorial weekend without having to add to folk that we end up memorializing.”

Dr. Bruce Randolph said any events should be held outdoors, where air flow is much greater. Guests should be observing the six-foot social distancing rule and wearing facial coverings when around those who don’t live in their household.

Officials have also said there should be no shared utensils at cookouts or potlucks, with one person designated to serve.

“Wearing a facial covering is designed to keep your spit to yourself, and the reality is, it’s really a matter of respect,” said Randolph.

Health precautions for Memorial Day gatherings

As for pools, the county’s health directive number four said they’re advised to operate at 25 percent of their capacity. Randolph said their main issue with pools is the socializing near the water.

“Our concerns as it relates to pools is the gathering that occurs outside the pool,” he said.

Baptist Infectious disease expert Dr. Steve Threlkeld said there is a way to enjoy the holiday weekend safely.

“I think it is certainly possible we will see an increase in cases anytime you get people together in circumstances,” he said. “But can we stay six feet away and not hug everybody and get in everybody’s face completely, if we are able to do that, it’s a less chance of getting the virus.”

As summer approaches, more passengers are expected to take to the skies. Memphis International Airport reported Thursday that more people are flying, with passenger numbers locally ticking up from lows in April.

The TSA put out new procedure changes for the summer nationwide to minimize contact between TSA screeners and passengers.

Officials said travelers in high-risk categories should still avoid travel by air, but if you must fly, stay alert.

“Wear your facial covering. Be mindful of places you touch, making sure to wash your hands,” said Randolph.

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