MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - For the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic started, Shelby County has reached a critical level of utilization in local hospitals intensive care units.
“It’s progressively getting worse,” said Dr. Jeff Waren, Shelby County COVID-19 Task Force.
On Saturday, the Shelby County Health Department reported an increase in 317 COVID-19 cases -- the fourth day in a row with a 300 or more case number increase.
And for the first time, the staff utilization for local intensive care units is in the red, at 93 percent, with only 32 ICU beds out of 463 currently available.
“You could go to the ER, you might get there at 8 o’clock in the morning and not get home until 1:30 the next morning. I’ve had that happened to one patient just last week,” said Warren.
Dr. Jeff Warren, a local physician, Memphis City Council member and member of the Shelby County COVID-19 Task Force says the task force expects the situation to get worse locally, with a potential surge in cases still expected from July 4.
“That could be the thing that pushes us over the edge in the next week or two and opens up the surge hospital. But remember, once you fill that thing up, you’re just overwhelmed,” said Warren.
Meanwhile, an event called Mask Up Memphis on East Shelby Drive hosted 20 Black-owned small businesses Saturday, handing out 5,000 masks for businesses to give to their customers. The event also allowed outdoor pop up shopping to help these businesses survive.
“It is great for the community, it gives our small businesses hope,” said Karen Camper, Tennessee State Representative District 87.
Dr. Warren says for the next couple weeks, it’s critical for people in Shelby County to be extremely vigilant wearing a mask, adhering to social distancing, especially when indoors and staying out of large groups.
“We’re looking fine now, we’re two to four weeks from being overwhelmed. What we do today will make a difference in whether we’re overwhelmed in two to four weeks,” said Warren.