Health Department closes venue as COVID-19 numbers reach a peak

Nightclub at the center of SCHD investigation closed for two weeks

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - The Shelby County Health Department said it issued an order for a southeast Memphis venue to close temporarily after it was the site of a large party over the weekend. The closure comes after the department investigated what happened at In Love Memphis on Saturday.

Saturday’s party was held in a tent outside the club on Winchester Road. Health officials said that’s a loophole some may be trying to use. They want businesses to know enclosed tents are considered indoors.

CDC recommends shorter quarantine time for those exposed to COVID-19

“That particular facility was closed [Wednesday] under the direction of the Health Department,” Shelby County Health Department Director Dr. Alisa Haushalter said.

The Health Department investigated a large party at the venue after many pictures and videos of the large crowd surfaced. It showed little social distancing and few people wearing masks, but Haushalter said the department had to gather its own evidence.

“What I understand happened that evening is in the earlier part of the evening, was there was compliance to masking and social distancing, but as the night went on there was less adherence to the health directive,” Haushalter said.

Investigators were there at the event as it was starting, but Haushalter said limited resources prevented them from being there for the whole time.

The party’s promoter Curtis Givens said on social media the party was held in a bubble outside the venue which had its own ventilation system and an opening for fresh air.

“All the safety measures in the health directive that applies to indoor dining applies even if you’re in a tent out in the parking lot,” Shelby County Health Officer Dr. Bruce Randolph said.

The Health Department is not able to issue a fine, that would take the work of Memphis Police, Haushalter said.

Health officials continue to implore people to take individual responsibility in trying to stop the spread of the virus.

In its latest interviews with people who recovered from COVID-19, the Shelby County Health Department found within the group of more than 300 interviewees, half of them continued with their normal daily routine while infected with most returning to work.

“Now there’s new guidance on quarantine that allows an individual to go back to work or their regular activities at an early date than previously,” Haushalter said.

The Shelby County Health Department said those who have tested positive for the virus need to isolate for at least 10 days, and that’s different from a quarantine.

“Quarantine applies to someone who may be infected because they’ve been exposed to someone who has tested positive,” Dr. Randolph said.

The CDC has changed its suggestion of a 14-day quarantine to a seven to 10-day quarantine. It said someone can leave quarantine after a week if they are not showing symptoms and if that person has a negative COVID test.

“In fact, the CDC’s guidance is they still prefer 14 days quarantine but allows from some alternative approaches,” Dr. Randolph said.

The Shelby County Health Department is calling now the peak of the pandemic. Numbers in many areas are going up, including the daily average of new cases over the last week. We’ve averaged more than 470 cases a day. That exceeds one of the Department’s tripwires to add more business restrictions.

But that won’t necessarily happen.

“That’s one of the tripwires, but we use that as a guidance,” Dr. Randolph said. “We look at things collectively and some of the other indicators and criteria before we make that decision.”

The current health directive allows for only 50 percent occupancy inside businesses. At bars and restaurants, customers must wear their masks at all times when they are not eating or drinking.

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