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Memphis Health Department: Most coronavirus deaths locally from nursing home clusters

Most coronavirus deaths locally from nursing home clusters

Tuesday’s Memphis and Shelby County Joint COVID-19 Task Force briefing begins with Shelby County Mayor Lee Harris who starts with nursing home problems.

Harris said he has sent a letter to the state seeking nursing home reforms. On inmates and detainees in prisons and similar facilities, Harris said locally we have had a testing surge: 700 inmates have been tested, six were positive for COVID-19, none are hospitalized, 120 employees at the Corrections Center have been tested, with 13 positive for virus; 12 have recovered and none are hospitalized.

Shelby County Health Department Director Alisa Haushalter said most of the 133 deaths in Shelby County are from nursing home clusters and outbreaks.

Testing capacity is still being underutilized. They are encouraging those involved in recent protests to get tested. A more formal statement from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on this is expected later today.

There are 3,500 people quarantined currently.

The health department and Back to Business committee have proposals for reopening plans pending. Later today, they will outline how others can submit their plans to the health department to reopen in Phase 3 next Monday.

On masks: The University of Memphis, in partnership with the health department, is studying how to improve the practice.

Graduate students in the program, and others, have worked in contact tracing and are also measuring compliance. The new project is to determine whether mask usage strategies are effective. Students will collect data in large areas, entertainment and recreational, and business. They will do in-person observations. A web-based survey is part of this, too.

They will ask churches, businesses and community organizations to spread the web link for the anonymous survey. The project will also be used in Nashville, so it will compare Memphis to Nashville.

Shelby County has 192 more confirmed cases of coronavirus, according to the health department, and six additional deaths resulting from the disease.

That is the largest daily increase to date. It follows yesterday’s increase of only 19 cases. 

The 192 new cases come from 2,916 administered tests, a positivity rate of 6.6%. That is the biggest one-day testing increase to date. 

The new cases bring the county’s total to 6,119 confirmed cases and 133 deaths. More than 4,000 people (4,115) are considered officially recovered from the disease. 

Yesterday, the health department recommended that Shelby County and all its municipalities remain in Phase 2 of the Back to Business reopening plan until June 15, citing an increase in daily coronavirus numbers, particularly after the Memorial Day holiday. 

Unless there are “extraordinary” changes in the metrics between now and June 15, the agency expects the county will move into Phase 3 on that date. 

As of 2 p.m. Monday, June 8, there were 26,944 confirmed coronavirus cases in Tennessee, with 17,563 people considered recovered. Statewide, there have been 421 deaths and 1,948 hospitalizations, according to the same data.

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