COVID-19 puts a pause on the ‘Back to Business’ plan

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Dr. Alisa Haushalter with the Shelby County Health Department

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Shelby County leaders made the decision to keep the area in ‘Phase II’ of the ‘Back to Business’ plan on Monday after a spike of COVID-19 cases.

Shelby County Health Department Director Dr. Alisa Haushalter said moving forward with the ‘Back to Business’ plan would put more people at risk.

According to Dr. Haushalter, officials anticipated day to day spikes partly from Memorial Day but they saw an overall upward trend not linked to the holiday.

“We’ve also seen an upward trend in hospitalizations and if we look closely at the data particularly in demographics, this is not representative of any one outbreak or cluster,” Dr. Haushalter said. “Previously, we knew there were increased hospitalizations because of the nursing home outbreaks. That’s no longer true.”

Overnight, Shelby County saw an 256 case increase, which is the largest single day increase.

Officials at hospitals are also seeing a spike.

“We too have been looking at the data and seen an increased number in hospitalizations both in our acute care beds and in our ICUs,” Senior Vice President and Chief Integration Officer of Regional One Health Susan Cooper said.

“The recent trends that we’re seeing are cause for concern but I want the public to know our healthcare system is available and ready with a thorough plan in the event of a surge,” Executive Vice President of Community Group Methodist Le Bonheur William Kenley said.

A strain is also being on the department’s ability to do contract tracing. However, the county is doing well in testing, encouraging more people to get a COVID-19 test, to wear a mask and wash your hands.

Restaurants and other facilities will have to stay at 50% capacty, crowds and gatherings remain limited to 50 people. At this time, Riverside Drive, surrounding Tom Lee Park, will remained closed to prevent overcrowding at the park.

Dr. Haushalter says it is not clear when ‘Phase III’ will begin but she wants the decision to be data driven, not day driven.

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