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SCHD: No plan to bring back mask mandate despite rise in COVID-19 cases

Published: Jul. 16, 2021 at 4:34 PM CDT
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - Amid rising COVID-19 cases in Memphis and Shelby County, the Shelby County Health Department (SCHD) says there are no plans to reinstate a mask mandate in the area.

“The Shelby County Health Department currently recommends wearing masks in crowded indoor settings, regardless of vaccination status. That is a recommendation only at this time,” Shelby County Health Officer Dr. Bruce Randolph said in a statement Friday.

Beginning Saturday, larger cities like Los Angeles County will require masks in indoor public spaces whether you’re vaccinated or not.

“There’s nothing wrong with being fully vaccinated and continuing to wear a mask at high-risk settings to provide that additional layer of protection,” said Methodist LeBonheur Infectious Disease Physician, Dr. Shirin Mazumder.

Mazumder says she’s seen an increase in patients diagnosed with COVID-19 with many of those cases involving the Delta variant.

As of Friday, SCHD reported an average of 142 new cases per day for the past seven days with much of the Mid-South seeing increases in COVID-19 hospitalizations.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Mississippi is last in the nation for COVID vaccines with 37.5 percent of residents with at least one dose of the vaccine.

Arkansas and Tennessee are nearly tied at 43.4 percent and 43.2 percent.

The University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences says the state’s healthcare system could become overwhelmed in the next 14 days.

Mazumder says both vaccines and masks are crucial for cases to decrease.

“It’s really important for people to be fully vaccinated, to have the best level of protection, particularly against the Delta variant. And we are seeing places like LA county reinstituting they’re masking policy, regardless of vaccination status. And that’s also being recommended by the WHO,” she said.

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