Health department keeps eyes on tripwires as virus cases surge

Health dept. closely watching uptick in COVID-19 data

SHELBY COUNTY, Tenn. (WMC) - Shelby County has now seen more than 43,000 cases of COVID-19 since March and that number is quickly doubling. On Tuesday the county reported its single highest 24-hour case total at 835.

“I think the public is looking at the tripwires and asking what are we going to do next and what are our next actions,” said Shelby County Health Department Director Dr. Alisa Haushalter.

Shelby Co. COVID-19 Joint Task Force meeting, Nov. 17

Over the summer the Shelby County Health Department outlined tripwires or certain numbers that would trigger new restrictions in the community. While we’re not to those tripwires yet, the first round would close limited-service restaurants and bars.

That would happen if our reproductive rate was about 1.4%, with an average of 450 new cases a day over a week’s time and a positivity rate at 18% or more.

“Our reproductive rate is above 1.2%, and our duplications rate is shortening,” said Haushalter. “Which means the time it takes to double the cases is now at about 42 days. If we continue in the same direction we will have to make some that are county-wide decisions.”

Health officials said Tuesday’s 835 new cases are all the positive cases since Nov. 11. Haushalter said no new restrictions will be announced yet, but some suggestions will be made to government officials.

Shelby County released new health directive, outlines ‘tripwires'

“We know where people gather and don’t wear masks is a place for transmission,” said Haushalter. “Those are things like gyms, limited-service restaurants, and so on. We also are preempted in really making decisions about certain places like places of worship. We know churches and other places of worship are areas transmission occurs, but we’re not able to give direction there so we’ll likely give recommendations.”

Shelby County’s current weekly positivity rate is 9.6% which was recorded the week of Nov. 1. The tripwire outline says to cause another stay at home order, cases would have to be more than 750 a day over seven days, a reproductive rate of 1.6% or more and a positivity rate of 25% or more.

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