Shelby County Health Department (SCHD) officials believe Memphis had a “successful” Memorial Day weekend in terms of curbing the spread of COVID-19, but won’t be certain for another two weeks.
Dr. Bruce Randolph, health officer for the SCHD, said “for the most part, I this weekend was successful. We’ll know in 14 days from this weekend how successful it was. I will say, at least when I went into stores I saw most people if not all had on facial coverings and masks.”
I consider it successful because my phone did not ring off the hook. I did not get any calls as it relates to violations of safety measures...When you look at the amount of people who were out at Shelby Farms and other places, I think people made efforts to try to maintain safe distancing.”
Randolph said he is “optimistic and hopeful that 14 days from this weekend I was proven correct, that our numbers have not upticked, but remained leveled.”
However, he iterated that “the virus is still present, even as we prepare to move forward, we still must practice measures,” such as the facial covering and maintaining social distancing.
“The next coming two weeks will be very important to us because it will let us know whether our efforts to move forward were wise or not,” Randolph said. “We will rely on the data. And as I have mentioned before, the data is often, and will be determined by behavior.”
Randolph said the health department has been and will continue to work with organizers of outdoor activities in order to make sure the event can be conducted in a “safe and healthful way.”
Dr. Alisa Haushalter, director of the SCHD, said the department anticipates that some may have traveled over the weekend, increasing their exposure to the virus. She said anyone who travels to a location considered a hotspot should self-quarantine when returning.
The county averaged about a 100 new cases a day over the weekend, which Haulshalter said is “a little higher than we’ve had previously,” but said she is not “overly concerned.”
The uptick could be due to a lapse in social distancing as the weather gets warmer, Haulshalter said. She adds that people are engaging with others more, as more people go back to work, saying that people should continue to social distance and wear facial coverings in work settings.
Haulshalter said that the county has performed close to 6,700 tests to date, but that test sites are not utilizing their full capacity. Currently the county has the means to meet its goal of giving 2,400 tests a day, but notes that some test sites are giving about 40 percent of the tests they have capacity for. Haulshater encouraged everyone who is sympathetic or has been in contact with someone who has tested positive to get tested.
“One of the key things we’ve said all along is that we’ve actually been able to assure people who need to be tested can get tested, not only here in Shelby County but across the state of Tennessee “Haulshalter said. “Cost has not been a barrier. And as much as we can, through our community partner, there’s testing in about every community across Shelby County.”