Saturday update: Health Directive No. 10 spells out “tripwires”

Advance warning: This is going to be a looooong post. Lots to talk about, and some of it in substantial depth. Better go get a fresh cup of coffee, open a fresh pack of cigarettes, pour yourself some cereal, pack you a bowl or whatever you need to accompany you through this.

Advance warning #2: Some of the news items I have for today’s post are going to make the use of spicy language unavoidable.

Yesterday the Shelby County Health Department issued Health Directive No. 10, implementing the “tripwires” that can either tighten or loosen restrictions on area businesses, based on COVID-19 data. Let’s have a look, starting off with the goals we as a community want to attain.

GOOD: If the following criteria are met

  • Average of 180 or fewer new cases per day over a 1-week period, based on the date of testing
  • Downward trend line (I’m assuming for new cases) over a 2-week period
  • Rate of new cases decreasing by 30% per week or more over a 2-week period
  • Reproductive rate less than or equal to 1
  • Positivity rate less than or equal to 10%

THEN the following restrictions are relaxed:

  • Limited-service restaurants are allowed to reopen, as well as other food/drink establishments currently closed

BETTER: If the following criteria are met:

  • Average of 75 or fewer cases per day over a 1-week period, based on the date of testing
  • Downward trend line (I’m assuming for new cases) over a 2-week period
  • “Rate of cases decreasing by ≤ 30 per week over 4 consecutive weeks” I wonder if this is typo and means rate of new cases decreasing by 30% or more per week over a 4-week period.
  • Reproductive rate less than or equal to 1
  • Positivity rate less than or equal to 5%

THEN the following restrictions are relaxed:

  • Allow increased gathering sizes
  • Allow increased capacity within businesses
  • Allow special events, subject to submission of a plan

Got a few questions about the above:

  1.  Does “positivity rate” refer to the cumulative positivity rate since over the entire run of the virus, or over the past week?
  2. Would it be possible to get the reproductive rate added to the health department’s COVID-19 dashboard?
  3. What about restrictions on full-service restaurants? (two-hour windows to order food, no bar seating, must order food to be served alcohol, 10 PM closing time) What’s the trip wire for those being relaxed?

Of course, not all the tripwires can be positive, because as the song goes, you take the good, you take the bad, you take them both and then you have, The Facts of Life. The Facts of Life. When a girl never seems… to be living… up to her dreams…

Oops, sorry, but I bet wherever they are these days, Natalie and Tootie are wearing their face masks. Anyway, let’s take a look at things we DON’T want to happen.

BAD: If the following criteria are met:

  • Average of 450 or more new cases per day over a 1-week period based on date of testing
  • Rate of new cases increasing by 40% or more over 1 week
  • Reproductive rate 1.4% or higher
  • Positivity rate 18% or higher

THEN the following restrictions are added:

  • Limited-service restaurants close
  • Restrictions imposed on full-service restaurants
  • Curfew
  • Restrictions on sports-related events
  • Increased enforcement
  • Increased education

WORSE: If the following conditions are met:

  • Average of 650 or more new cases per day over a 1-week period based on date of testing
  • Rate of new cases increasing by 40% or more over 2 weeks
  • Reproductive rate 1.4% or higher
  • Positivity rate 20% or higher

THEN the following restrictions are imposed:

  • Decrease gathering sizes to no more than 10
  • Increased, targeted enforcement
  • Increased education

WORST: If the following conditions are met:

  • Average of 750 or more new cases per day over a 1-week period based on date of testing
  • Rate of new cases increasing by 40% or more over 2 weeks
  • Reproductive rate 1.6% or higher
  • Positivity rate 25% or higher

THEN we go back to life in hell, meaning

  • Safer At Home house arrest order
  • Closure of schools

Overall I think the goals are very reasonable. They give us reasons to wear our masks, social distance, and wash our hands whether our primary concern is getting kids back to face-to-face instruction or being able to sit at a bar and drink a cocktail. It’s up to us now. We can decide how much freedom we want to have, and what kind of freedom, until COVID-19 dies down.

Of course, the social media “medical experts” are already calling the tripwires “bullshit.” I am so sick of hearing from them. It’s almost like, they want to measure success by how many businesses are forced to close by the time the pandemic is over. And yes, five weeks was a long time to produce this document, but to me the thresholds seem well thought out, taking into account both what’s happening in other large cities and conditions locally here in Shelby County. Kudos to the task force. It’s a shame you guys receive so much criticism and so little praise. I’m not saying you’re perfect – and I’m not even promising I won’t make fun of you next time I recap a press conference – but the hard work you’ve done the past 5 months is noticed and appreciated.

After reading all the complaints about drag racing and large groups congregating Downtown, and MPD saying they don’t have the manpower to do anything about it, I decided to try an experiment last night to determine: Is MPD doing ANYTHING about cruising and drag racing Downtown? Or are they just completely letting the problem run haywire? So about 9:45 I turned the police scanner on and listened until about midnight. All of the locations listed below are traffic stops unless otherwise noted. Times are approximate give or take a few minutes.

  • 9:46: Second at Pontotoc.
  • 9:48: Officer put out a bulletin about someone “driving like a fool” at corner of Second at Lt. George W. Lee Ave.
  • 9:53: Front at Gayoso
  • 10:08: Second at MLK
  • 10:26: Peabody Place at Rufus Thomas
  • 10:27: Main at Beale
  • 10:45: Second at MLK
  • 10:46: Peabody Place at Main
  • 10:53: Adams at Riverside, noted as “special,” whatever that means
  • 10:53: Peabody Place at B.B. King
  • 11:00: Peabody Place at B.B. King, possibly same call as above
  • 11:17: Jefferson at Main
  • 11:17: Peabody Place at Front
  • 11:18: Front at Court (dispersed group that had been gathering)
  • 11:24 Beale at Front (2 wreckers ordered and a third requested)
  • 11:37: MLK at Danny Thomas
  • 11:53: Peabody Place and Second
  • 11:56: 150 Peabody Place (possibly a continuation of the call above)

Based on what I heard, I think it is safe to say that MPD is making an effort to control the problem with the resources they have available.

Also, this was tweeted by Memphis Bike Ped last night:

I looked out my window near the intersection of Second and Monroe about 10:15 last night. I did see a couple of teenagers on scooters, but they were moving slowly enough that they could have been operating under human power. Their lights were still on, but even if the electric motor was disabled, for safety reasons you probably wouldn’t want to disable the lights.

From Memphis River Parks Partnership:

Surprise! Skating is back on the riverfront. ⠀

(It is just a liiiiiittle different).⠀

With the closure of Riverside Drive to vehicles this weekend, skates are available to rent at the bottom of Vance Avenue Bluff Stairs, next to Beale Street Landing. Grab some skates, and hit the road. Read on for some important notes: ⠀

Masks required to rent a skate: no mask, no zooming!⠀
Bring a bag to keep your shoes in while you skate.⠀
Plenty of space to keep six feet apart (Riverside Drive is closed to vehicles from Georgia to Jefferson), so please explore and keep socially distant. ⠀
Skates are free, but first come, first serve. If you aren’t able to get a pair tonight, take a sunset stroll, stop by one of @downtownmemphis’ businesses for dinner, or sit and watch folks zoom by! ⠀

Free skate rentals during the times below:⠀
Friday 6 – 8:30 PM⠀
Saturday 6 – 8:30 PM ⠀
Sunday 4:30 – 8:30 PM⠀

Not into skating? There are yard games popping up in the park this weekend, too. #cometotheriver to see!

The Memphis Grizzlies earned their first win in the Orlando bubble yesterday, handing the Oklahoma City Thunder a 121-92 loss. With 3 games left, the Grizzlies still sit in playoff position in 8th place in the West, with Portland back 1 game, San Antonio 1.5 games back, New Orleans and Phoenix 2.5 games back, and Sacramento 3.5 games back. Despite a rough start, the Grizzlies still control their destiny. Also, it looks more likely than not that the NBA won’t get Zion Williamson in the playoffs and the resulting ratings bonanza that would come with it.

The Grizzlies don’t play today. Games of note:

  • L.A. Clippers at Portland, noon, TNT (Coooooome ooooooon, Clips!)
  • Phoenix at Miami, 6:30, no national TV (Go Heat!)

Memphis 901 FC has its last home match for several weeks this afternoon. They take on North Carolina FC today at 4 PM at AutoZone Park. If you can’t be there in person for the match, you can watch locally on CW30.

You think Memphis has problems controlling COVID-19? You ain’t seen nothin’ compared to our state’s capital. Last Saturday a party happened at a venue called The Fashion House in East Nashville. Many, many photos of the party went viral, showing no social distancing, very little masking, and most notably, a video that went viral in multiple senses of the word, showing a man performing analingus on a woman in a window of the house, in full view of everyone. Public health officials discourage eating ass during the pandemic, citing fecal matter as a possible point of spread of the virus.

The cops showed up around 1 AM and shut down the party. They did not cite individuals for failure to wear masks, nor did they cite the house’s owners for having more than the maximum number of individuals allowed by the health directive in the house. However, on Tuesday the city of Nashville’s law director indicated a possible intent to prosecute the violations as Class C misdemeanors. In addition, the Fashion House has been found to be a commercial business in an area zoned for residential only, so it is unlikely that more parties will be held there in the future.

The folks at Bluff City Soap are brainstorming ideas for the company’s Downtown location since curbside pickup is not possible at a storefront on the Main Street Mall. The company overall has seen an uptick in business since the pandemic started, since anything that cleans is flying off the shelves these days. If you’re a fan of their products, keep an eye out for flash sales liquidating the Downtown location’s inventory.

Midtown Crossing Grill is the latest restaurant to become a victim to the pandemic. A post yesterday indicated the business would be permanently closed.

Kennard Farmer performs on the patio of the Central Station Hotel tonight from 7 to 9. You can come listen in person or catch the show online.

There will be a spin class by Spin n’ Out at Fourth Bluff tomorrow, Sunday, August 9, at 9:15 AM. $15 fee.

Virtual Elvis Week begins today. Here’s the schedule.

That’s it for this post, and I’m off to Bardog for brunch. Everyone please remember your masks and face coverings, maintain your 6 feet of social distance, and practice proper hand hygiene. Let’s get those COVID-19 numbers down so our friends who own or work at limited service restaurants can make some money. Back tomorrow with more news.