Local increase in COVID-19 cases cause alarm among health experts

Local increase in COVID-19 cases cause alarm among health experts

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - Health experts say they are very concerned about a recent rise in COVID-19 case numbers in Shelby County.

This comes as the United States is breaking records for the most daily COVID-19 cases across the nation.

Local health experts say this has been a bad week in Shelby County, with COVID-19 cases sharply trending upward.

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The Shelby County Health Department is reporting an alarming increase in daily COVID-19 case numbers with 414 new cases and 3 new deaths.

Over the past 7 days, Shelby County has averaged 270 cases per day after staying below an overage of 100 new daily cases for several weeks prior.

The positivity rate is also climbing again, reaching 7.2 percent last week after bottoming out at 5.3 percent toward the end of September.

“It’s very concerning really, you look at the numbers nationally, yesterday was the highest number we had seen since the start of the pandemic in terms of new cases, 85-thousand,” Dr. Steve Threlkeld, Infectious Disease Specialist for Baptist Memorial Healthcare, said.

The positivity rate in Shelby County has risen steadily since the Shelby County Health Department’s most recent health directive issued Oct. 6, allowing restaurants to increase capacity and stay open later as well as loosening restrictions on local sporting events, allowing more fans.

Dr. Jeff Warren, Memphis City Councilman and member of the Shelby County Task Force, says the rise in cases has not been directly tied to those looser restrictions.

“What we’ve noticed, at least talking to health department officials, this is coming from school athletics, it’s coming from small groups of people getting together and not practicing social distancing,” Dr. Jeff Warren, Member of Shelby Co. COVID-19 Task Force, said.

The most recent wave of cases nationally makes local health experts worry about potential spread among Mid-South families during the holidays.

“Holidays like Thanksgiving where people will be coming home from the Mid-West and the West and the Northeast from college and be around older adults and we’ll have the tendency to think well my kid wouldn’t give this to me,” Dr. Threlkeld said.

“If you’re really thinking you’re going to be getting together with your family members, everyone needs to be really careful the two weeks before the holiday and they need to get tested very close to when they’re all going to get together,” Dr. Warren said.

Although it’s been said before, these health experts are again warning the Mid-South that being complacent about health protocols over the coming weeks and months could have dire consequences.

“This is not over and as we mentioned, we’re tired of it. I mean the population is tired of it, so it’s hard for us to continue collectively doing even those simple things that we know work,” Dr. Threlkeld said.

Health experts say we all know the keys to fighting COVID: wearing masks, social distancing and washing hands.

Dr. Threlkeld says now is the time to get your flu shot, to hopefully use fewer hospital resources, and keep more flu cases out of emergency rooms.

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