Disease specialist’s advice to Mid-Southerners: Don’t let your guard down; virus positivity rate increases in Shelby Co.

Memorial Day weekend impact on COVID-19 cases

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - As Mid-Southerners come together for Memorial Day weekend, health experts urge them not to let their guard down.

The experts say they understand it's tempting to want to hang out in a big crowd, but they say we're not out of the woods yet.

In fact, since Friday more than 300 new cases have been reported in Shelby County.

Cases continue to rise in Tennessee, Arkansas and Mississippi as well.

"How we stand now really depends on kind of our behaviors now," said Dr. Steve Threlkeld, an infectious disease specialist at Baptist Memorial Hospital. "The virus is still out there waiting for us."

Experts watching for delayed uptick cases from Memorial Day

Threlkeld says until now, the things we've been doing have been working, like social distancing.

"We still have a fairly low amount of virus in our community, that's a good thing, of course. The only challenging thing there is that there are still a lot of people in our community who can still get infected and transmit the virus after we relax things," said Threlkeld.

He says as more of the Mid-South reopens, we'll need to watch for a "delayed uptick" in cases after Memorial Day.

"As we open things up, it may be that at first we won't see a large uptick in cases. But then as we move further relax and as there's more travel, bringing the virus into our city in higher concentration and higher numbers, we can see a delayed uptick in numbers," said Threlkeld. "So we have to stay vigilant in the coming few weeks, even as we relax some of the things that we've been doing to prevent the virus."

The Shelby County Health Department says 4,404 cases have been confirmed in Shelby County; 93 people have died and 2,974 have recovered.

New COVID-19 map shows several neighborhoods in Shelby County are no longer hotspots

There was an uptick in the testing positivity rate last week in Shelby County, which doubled from a low of 2.9% in early May to more than 6% on Thursday.

But that’s still below the 10% rate that officials say would cause them concern.

Statewide, the Tennessee Health Department says 20,607 Tennesseans have gotten COVID-19 and 338 have died as of May 25. More than 13,000 have recovered.

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