City leaders preparing for likely COVID-19 spike after Thanksgiving holiday

Health officials warn of post-Thanksgiving surge

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - Last week the CDC begged Americans not to travel for the Thanksgiving holiday and limit gatherings to only people living in their household.

Millions of people have already decided to stick with their Thanksgiving travel plans.

Three Million people packed planes over the weekend and a slew of college students are heading home for the semester.

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Despite health officials’ warnings to cancel or alter holiday plans, City of Memphis leaders are planning for what may be inevitable.

“Following Thanksgiving, we know even though they’ve taken every precaution they will somehow contract the COVID-19 virus and they will be symptomatic,” said City of Memphis Chief Operating Officer Doug McGowen.

He is encouraging people to stay at home if they are feeling sick after the Thanksgiving holiday and avoid places like work and school to hopefully minimize the impact.

Tuesday the Shelby County Health Department reported 377 new coronavirus cases.

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“Well right now we’re in the middle of the spike and what we’re worried about is the spike will accelerate so we want people to be as safe as possible and get tested if you’re going to be around people,” said Memphis City Council Member and family medicine physician Dr. Jeff. Warren.

Warren is concerned about how increased cases could affect the hospital system.

“You get enough health workers get infected, then there’s no one to take care of people in hospitals and that’s when people tend to die when hospitals are overwhelmed without appropriate staff,” said Warren.

Officials with the health department said projections put more than 500 people in the hospital with COVID-19 on Christmas Day.

City leaders are hoping people stay 6 feet apart, wear a mask and know guests COVID-19 status before gathering for the holidays.

“It’s incredibly important that we take these actions now so we don’t have a problem into the new year,” said McGowen.

McGowan is also hopeful people take advantage of the more than 12,000 COVID-19 tests available to the public each day.

The tests are free and knowing your status could help slow the spread of the virus.

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