Shelby Co. health officials optimistic despite large spike in COVID-19 cases

Shelby Co. health officials optimistic despite large spike in COVID-19 cases

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - The Shelby County Health Department has reported yet another large increase in new daily COVID-19 cases with more than 600 new cases.

Despite the spike, health experts say there is some optimism in the recent numbers.

The Shelby County Health Department reported another record in new daily COVID-19 cases Saturday with 664.

Although in their tweet, the health department gave this caveat: “This data reflects test results reported to the Health Dept yesterday, but collected over a number of days” -- indicating a delay in reporting from backlogged labs.

Overall, experts say there are reasons to be optimistic.

“Right now, we’re still on an upward trend, just not as quickly,” said Dr. Jeff Warren, Memphis Shelby County COVID-19 Task Force.

Dr. Jeff Warren, a local physician, Memphis City Councilman and member of the Memphis Shelby County COVID-19 Task Force, says ever since the countywide mask mandate in early July, the COVID-19 positivity rate has started leveling off and moving toward 14 percent this week.

Dr. Warren says the transmission rate has also slowed from 1.2 to 1.07 -- another overall good sign.

“Instead of a rise like this, the rise is now like that, and hopefully we’re going to start to see it go down as far as numbers,” said Warren.

“We are seeing a slight slowdown in the case count as well as in the hospitalizations,” said Dr. Amik Sodhi, UTHSC Critical Care Physician.

UTHSC Critical Care Physician and Chief Medical Officer for the COVID-19 overflow hospital in Memphis, Dr. Amik Sodhi, says she hopes the positive trends continue and the overflow site can remain closed when flu season picks up in the winter and fall.

“We may overwhelm our capacity. And so, that’s a situation we all want to try to avoid,” said Sodhi.

“We definitely don’t need to relax, OK? We need to do a few things, wear your mask correctly, keep it over your nose and your mouth,” said Warren.

Dr. Warren says the task force is looking into possibly shutting some streets down to allow restaurants some extra outdoor seating, since eating outdoors is proven safer than eating indoors.

That is something other cities across the country have already done to keep restaurants alive.

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