Shelby Co. COVID-19 positivity rate remains high, county experiences difficulties reporting new cases

COVID-19 surging in Shelby Co. as holiday weekend nears

SHELBY COUNTY, Tenn. (WMC) - Shelby County will remain in phase two of its Back to Business plan for another week, as COVID-19 cases continue to climb and the positivity rate remains at its highest since the pandemic began.

Positive COVID-19 cases in the state grew by more than 2,000 over the weekend. In Shelby County, we saw our second-highest day to day number -- 365 positive results in one day.

“I sound frustrated because I spent the weekend admitting people into the hospital with COVID-19,” said Baptist Memorial Infectious Disease Doctor Steve Threlkeld. “I put a breathing tube down one today.”

Another weekend where the number of COVID-19 cases went up in Tennessee and Shelby County. Last week’s positivity rate in Shelby County was more than 10%. On Monday morning, the Shelby County Health Department could not provide new numbers because of an unexpected statewide shutdown of the data reporting system.

Coronavirus Q&A with Dr. Steve Threlkeld -- June 29

The shutdown prevented the state health department from reporting two days worth of data, but that data came Monday afternoon. It showed more than 2,100 new cases – bringing the total to more than 42,000.

In Shelby County, state data reports an increase of more than 360 new cases from Sunday to Monday. That brings the county’s total to more than 9,600 cases, though the Shelby County Health Department has not confirmed that number.

“If we get better social distancing that’s really the root of the problem,” said Threlkeld. “Masks are crucial if you can’t social distance but we need to do both.”

Shelby County will remain in phase two of its Back to Business plan as we wait to see the impact of a city-wide mask order requiring facial coverings in all public businesses.

The Shelby County Health Department is currently analyzing data the state released Monday and will release the latest numbers Tuesday morning.

Meantime, the northeast is cracking down on out of state travelers, which includes some Mid-Southerners.

After being the hot spot for COVID-19, New York is finally seeing cases go down. The state once saw 800 deaths a day. On Monday Governor Andrew Cuomo reported a three-day death total of eight.

To keep that downward trend New York, New Jersey and Connecticut are asking people visiting from certain states to quarantine for 14 days upon arrival. Arkansas is on that list.

According to a data analysis by the USA Today Network New York, Mississippi and Tennessee could be added to it.

“It’s hard to be critical of that,” said Threlkeld. “[Positivity rates in the Northeast] coming down. Whether [Northeast states] did a good job at the beginning or not, they’re coming down and they don’t want an influx of cases.”

Monday Tennessee Governor Bill Lee extended the emergency order until the end of August.

Threlkeld said large groups celebrating the Fourth of July can help spread the virus. It will be several weeks after the holiday until health officials know just how bad the spread may be.

He said if you’re planning anything over the weekend, make sure it’s outside.

“There’s no better ventilation than outside,” said Threlkeld. “So, the more we can do outside at a distance from each other the safer we are.”

Copyright 2020 WMC. All rights reserved.