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Daily COVID-19 case rates up 800% from last month in Memphis and Shelby County

Shelby County COVID-19 joint task force restarts weekly briefings
Published: Jul. 22, 2021 at 5:30 PM CDT
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - From June 21 to June 27, the seven-day average rate of new COVID-19 cases had plummeted to just 22 cases.

This led to the end of the Shelby County COVID-19 joint task force’s weekly briefings.

These last seven days, however, have seen the daily average spike to 174 new cases of COVID-19.

Thursday saw 259 new cases, the most seen in Memphis and Shelby County since early February, and 80 percent of these cases are being caused by the Delta variant.

Now, the task force is back to their scheduled weekly briefings.

“People have got to get vaccinated,” urged Dr. Bruce Randolph with the Shelby County Health Department. “This problem could easily be solved by more people rolling up their sleeves and receiving the shot.”

Some areas of the city are seeing vaccination rates, per 100,000 people, as low as 26 percent.

Randolph and Memphis COO Doug McGowen gave a few examples of what they’re hearing on a consistent basis as to why people still choose not to get the vaccine (see tweet below).

“That is all more critical because our hospitals are already feeling the pressure of other conditions besides COVID-19,” McGowen said. “Our ICUs are 96 percent utilized.”

While there have been local institutions like Shelby County Schools re-implementing a masking policy, Randolph says the city and county are not there just yet.

“This isn’t ‘Oh! Are we going to start back to the days of stay at home and closing businesses?’ That’s not the issue,” Randolph said. “People have got to get vaccinated.”

“If you are in a place where you are unsure of the vaccination status of individuals or are unsure that you could be at risk for transmission of COVID-19, I suggest you wear a mask,” McGowen said.

There has been some promise, however, in the task force’s door-to door campaign to promote vaccinations and dispel any false information surrounding vaccines.

McGowen says the campaign has made “47,000 phone calls, reaching about 27,000 households. (Campaigners) have spoken to many individuals to try and give them the information to get them over vaccine hesitancy. Next is going door-to-door with “Our Best Shot” campaign. That is an effort where we have been able to reach more than 13,000 households, and we will continue to do that over the next few months.”

With breakthrough cases, where people test positive for the virus even though they are fully vaccinated, the task gave up-to-date figures on total numbers.

Randolph said, in total, there have been 458 breakthrough cases out of 407,000 in Memphis and Shelby County who have had at least one dose of a vaccine, a .001 percent chance.

It’s a concern, of course, but the chief concern remains the unvaccinated rate in Memphis and Shelby County.

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