Expert says COVID-19 numbers reflect positive trend in Shelby County

Expert says COVID-19 numbers reflect positive trend in Shelby County

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - For the second day in a row, the Shelby County Health Department has reported more than 300 new COVID-19 cases after the weekly average dipped below 300 cases per day for the first time in several weeks.

Over the past month, COVID-19 cases reported on the weekends were about 40 cases higher than the average number of cases reported during the week.

“Certainly there’s some catch-up on weekends, which shouldn’t necessarily reflect the percentage as much as it would reflect the total number of new cases,” said Dr. Steve Threlkeld, Infectious Disease Specialist at Baptist Memorial Hospital.

Infectious Disease Specialist Dr. Steve Threlkeld says weekly numbers currently show a slight decrease in cases, and the positivity rate is more important to watch than daily case numbers.

But COVID-19 testing is also at a six-week low, which is not a good thing according to Dr. Threlkeld.

On July 21, the Shelby County COVID-19 Task Force changed testing priority to prioritize those with symptoms, after testing capacity was stretched and results were delayed.

“So it’s the lesser of two evils to try to have fewer people tested but to get the tests back faster,” said Threlkeld.

Friday, the Shelby County Health Department released a new health directive with tripwire parameters for tightening or loosening restrictions in the future.

To tighten restrictions such as an imposed curfew, the county would have to reach, among other numbers, 450 cases per day for an entire week and a weekly positively rate of 18 percent or higher.

Those are levels we have not yet seen thus far in Shelby County.

“I think looking at those guidelines, they largely keep us where we are. I mean, if you look forward, there are ways to have less restrictions but there’s not much political will to go backwards and I think those tripwires make it very difficult to get to those points,” said Threlkeld.

Dr. Threlkeld says one of the more reliable objective numbers related to COVID-19 is hospitalizations.

The utilization rate for ICU beds has been hovering around 90 percent but can lag a couple weeks behind case numbers.

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