Suburbs raising pandemic awareness to stave off COVID-19 spread

Suburbs raising pandemic awareness to stave off COVID-19 spread

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - The Shelby County Health Department said this week transmission of COVID-19 is decreasing inside the I-240 loop and increasing outside of it.

Germantown officials said their numbers are still relatively low per capita compared to other zip codes in the county, but they’re taking an educational approach to try and stave off the virus.

If you’ve driven through Germantown lately, chances are you’ve seen dozens of signs, part of a large public awareness campaign launched by city officials aimed at masking, social distancing, and hand washing.

“We all go in and out of Memphis and othe areas,” said John Selberg, Germantown Fire Chief. “We can’t look at ourselves just in an island. We are part of the overall county community.”

The Shelby County Health Department said this week they’re noticing upticks in testing positivity rates in areas outside of the I-240 loop.

A map of cases per capita shows zip codes along 385, those in Wolfchase and Cordova seeing darker shades which signifies more cases.

Shelby County total COVID-19 case rate per 1000,000 population as of Sept. 9
Shelby County total COVID-19 case rate per 1000,000 population as of Sept. 9 (Source: SCHD)

Officials said increased spread is to be expected with the virus making its way to suburban and rural communities over time, something we’re seeing play out now.

“A lot of the COVID transmission has been in the core of Memphis. But now the transmission has expanded. We also see that in rural counties in Tennessee,” said David Sweat, Deputy Director of the Shelby County Health Department. “The virus moves. And it moves as people are interacting in different ways that give the virus an opportunity to be acquired.”

Back in Germantown, Selberg said he understands people are anxious for some normalcy to resume. But officials know the only way that comes is with masks and more attention to hand hygiene.

“I think part of it is people really wanting to get back out there and get back to life. We have to remind them we can get back to life. We just have to take the precautions,” he said.

A spokesperson for the town of Collierville said Friday officials there are watching upticks in cases outside of Memphis and emphasizing safety protocols to residents. Leaders said the health department has told them private large gatherings could be responsible for suburban spread.

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