SCHD says COVID-19 transmission growing in suburbs, TN Dept of Ed sets up school case dashboard

SCHD says COVID-19 transmission growing in suburbs, TN Dept of Ed sets up school case dashboard

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - Shelby County public health officials said Thursday new cases of COVID-19 are down to roughly 100 a day from highs of 400 a day earlier this summer. But leaders said they’re now seeing higher test positivity rates in the suburbs.

“We do see at this time inside the I-240 loop there is a reduced level of virus transmission,” said David Sweat, Deputy Director of the Shelby County Health Department. “Where we are seeing higher rates of positivity is all the communities on the outside of the I-240 loop, moving eastward and outward through the county.”

Public health officials stopped short of directly connecting increased virus transmission in the county’s suburbs to school re-openings, instead offering a general explanation for the spread.

“The virus moves, and it moves as people are interacting in different ways that give the virus an opportunity to be acquired,” Sweat said.

Suburban districts in the county have been back in the classroom for nearly a month.

Collierville Schools called off in-person classes for two weeks over a COVID-19 cluster at Collierville High School. The high school’s first two cases were among members of the football team.

Wednesday the Tennessee Department of Education rolled out a public dashboard to track COVID-19 cases within the state’s public school districts.

It shows Collierville this week with 26 student cases and six cases among staff. Germantown and Arlington show less than five student cases. Bartlett and Millington show less than five cases each for students and staff.

Lakeland shows no cases among students or staff.

The health department said they do not plan to public a school district-specific dashboard locally.

“We are telling the mayors of the municipalities the number of cases that are diagnosed among school-aged children in their jurisdiction,” said Sweat. “The important thing is the number of the children in a community that are testing positive.”

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