MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - The Shelby County Health Department has released a new COVID-19 health directive that takes effect on Monday.
The 20-page health directive lays out rules that businesses, schools, nursing homes and individuals must follow to slow the spread of COVID-19 in Shelby County.
For the first time, it includes what would have to happen for businesses, like bars, to reopen and for large gatherings to resume. It also shows what could lead to more restrictions, like the closure of schools.
The "tripwires" concept was one of the recommendations from federal health officials who visited the county around July 4 because of increasing infection rates.
Health department director Alisa Haushalter says the "tripwires" serve as a guide for leaders making important decisions.
"We have to determine how do we continue to move forward and balance the number of cases we have with opening businesses and keeping businesses open and getting children back to school," said Haushatler.
The "tripwires" chart outlines the actions government leaders could take if the county sees certain improvements with COVID-19, and what could happen if the county experiences setbacks.
For instance, limited service restaurants, like bars that are currently closed, could reopen if several numbers improved at the same time, including the county seeing fewer than 180 new cases a day over a one week period, and the positivity rate falling below 10 percent.
If numbers continued to improve, officials could allow larger crowds to gather.
On the other hand, if numbers worsened, county leaders could reimpose restrictions, like curfews.
The worst-case scenario could result in the return of "Safer at Home" and the closure of schools.
For that to happen, several things would have to go wrong, including the county experiencing over 750 new daily cases over a week and a positivity rate over 25 percent.
Haushalter says the "tripwires" are about bringing balance.
“We know we are in marathon mode, so we want to do the best that we can to balance the economic impact of COVID-19, the social impact, and the health impact on our community,” said Haushalter.