Sunday update

Multiple people have reported strange dreams during the COVID-19 pandemic, and after last night, I can sure relate. I must have had 30 dreams in one night and zoomed around to all kinds of different places and situations from my adult life. By the time I got out of bed, I had to stop and get a grasp on current reality, having to figure out which of my relatives are alive, whether I have pets, what city I live in, what apartment I live in, where I work, and if there’s a pandemic going on.

Got a couple of pieces of Sunday brunch news to start off the day:

Over at Silly Goose, Sunday bartender B-RAD will be back for his first shift since March 15. He and Jonathan will be behind the bar and Dylan will serve up wood-fired pizzas.

We even have live sports to watch today! Capital One’s “The Match: Champions for Charity” will tee off at 1 Central time this afternoon at Medalist Golf Club in Hobe Sound, Florida. The match will feature Tiger Woods and Peyton Manning vs. Phil Mickelson and Tom Brady. The event will raise $10 million to go toward pandemic relief. The match will be broadcast on TNT, TBS, truTV, and HLN. Format is best ball on the front nine and modified alternate shot on the back nine. For an explanation of the formats, player comparisons and prop bets, check out this Bleacher Report article.

From The Withers Collection Museum photo gallery on Beale Street:

The Withers Collection Museum and Gallery is now open by Appointment Only for groups of 10 or less with 24-hour notice!
In an abundance of caution, all guests and staff members are required to wear a mask or facial covering at all times while on the premises and in the museum building. As a courtesy, anyone entering the museum will be required to have a temperature check by our staff with an infrared touchless thermometer.
Please call (901) 523-2344 to schedule your appointment at least 24 hours in advance!
We look forward to sharing the exciting photographic history displayed in the museum with you, our valued guests! Thank you.
All public events and programming are canceled while the museum is closed which includes the monthly Talk About It Tuesday Community Forum.
We will provide updates on any changes in the status of our operations. Thank you for your understanding and cooperation in the steps we are taking to ensure a safe environment for the Withers Collection team and our patrons.
For more information from health officials regarding the coronavirus, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website.
ONLINE ORDERS
All online orders will be processed, fulfilled and shipped within 14 days of the museum re-opening. Please contact Jazmin Withers at jwithers@witherscollection.org, if you have any questions.
WE ARE HERE FOR YOU!
If you have any questions or would like to contact anyone on the Withers Collection Museum and Gallery staff, please direct all communications to info@witherscollection.org.

Fun Sunday brunch at the Blind Bear, really the first day since the house arrest ended that things felt close to normal. Hanin was asked about the new moonshine slushies.

“The green one tastes like green, and the blue one tastes like blue,” Hanin explained. Well that’s helpful. There is a precedent, though: Go to Max’s Sports Bar and ask what Purple Drank tastes like.

Not a whole lot of news today, which is typical for a holiday weekend. Back tomorrow.

Saturday update

Lots going on this weekend! First up, from Wiseacre Brewing Co.:

wiseacrebrewingcompany
Hello all! As you know, we made the choice to not open during Phase 1 as we felt it was right to err on the side of caution. We’re super excited to have you back, and we’re happy to announce that THIS UPCOMING MONDAY we’re opening up the WISEACRE Beer Garden on Broad Avenue! To ensure that safety and fun go hand and hand, we’ve made several changes to how we operate. We’d greatly appreciate it if you take the time to read and understand these policies and procedures. All of this is subject to change as we see fit. If you have any questions, comments, or concerns don’t hesitate to DM us or email marketing@wiseacrebrew.com.
-To manage capacity, we are selling tickets for two hour time slots through Fareharbor, and you can find this on our website. Each person in your party must have a ticket to enter, and that ticket gets you your first beer. Tickets can be purchased at the gate if space is still available.
-At this time, we are only allowing adults over the age of 21, so that means no children or pets. We’re sad about it too!
-We are setting up a contactless payment system through Arryved, which is available through Google Play and the App Store. Please download the app and follow the instructions to set up your account. This will allow you to start a tab from your phone and close your tab without us needing to handle your credit/debit card.
-Parties are limited to 6 people, and they cannot be combined osmotically.
-We are doing self seated table service outside, and will have updated ordering procedures to limit interaction.
-The taproom itself will be closed, with the exception of the bathrooms , which now have foot pulls.
-We are asking customers to remain at their tables, with the exception of said bathrooms.
-We’re looking into socially distanced games/entertainment, stay tuned!
-We’re using compostable cups instead of glassware, and we will provide recycling bins for their disposal.
SEE YOU SOON!

Ticketing systems sound like a colossal pain in the ass, but they provide a record of who was there and when. Should the need for contact tracing arise, that will help a lot.

Got info on a couple of Memorial Day weekend deals for you. First of all, when you shop online at Walking Pants Curiosities this weekend, use code MEMORIAL20 to get 20% off everything on their site.

The Flying Fish is doing 4 pounds of crawfish for $20 this weekend at all their locations except Little Rock. I wouldn’t rate the Fish’s crawfish as the best in town (those would be Glaze’s crawfish boils at Max’s Sports Bar) but they’re certainly not bad and that’s a heck of a deal.

From Primas Bakery + Boutique on South Main:

🎊We are happy to announce that we will be re-opening the shop on June 2nd!🎊

We are planning to be as safe & cautious as possible. We will be operating new hours at this time until we feel comfortable with our “new normal”.

Our temporary walk-in hours will be:

Tuesday-Friday 11am-3pm
Saturday 9am-3pm
Sunday 9am-2pm

Online ordering is still encouraged from both the bakery & boutique! Order online and choose store pickup. Pickup anytime during our temporary store hours.

To promote social distancing, no more than 10 people will be allowed in the shop at one time (this includes Primas staff.)

Face masks are required at all times while you are in the store.

Hand sanitizer will be stationed throughout the store. Please sanitize before touching any merchandise.

The boutique will not allow clothing to be tried on at this time and no returns will be honored. Shop Online: www.shopmucho.com 💃🏻🛍

At this time, the bakery will be offering grab-n-go items from the bakery case. These items may be pre-ordered online for same day pick up or purchased directly from the case (these items are available to-go only! Dining in is not an option at this time!)

The bakery will continue to offer custom and online cake orders for future dates (curbside pick up and no contact delivery is still available on these orders!) www.primasbakerymenu.com🎂👩🏻‍🍳

No cash accepted—credit cards only please!

Thank you so much for your willingness to adapt to our new and temporary restrictions. We are so excited to open back up and see our Primas fam!! 🌈💕

From Lifehacker: Use your washing machine to thaw frozen food. WTF?????

I have not yet had a reason to visit Downtown’s new Jimmy John’s, preferring to support local sandwich shops. However, a friend of mine had an Unwich from there yesterday, and it looked really good. Any sandwich on the menu can be made as an Unwich, with a lettuce wrap replacing the bread. Making a sandwich an Unwich reduces calories by 280 to 400, and any Unwich has less than 10 g total carbs.

I missed yesterday’s COVID-19 task force press conference. It sounds like it was mostly about testing and safety measures in correctional facilities. Bill Dries of the DM has a report.

Rendezvous news:

WREG has a warning: Don’t leave hand sanitizer in your car on a warm day. Think about it.. alcohol is a major ingredient in most hand sanitizer, and alcohol is flammable.

GrubHub sucks: They are buying up thousands of restaurant domain names, meaning mom-and-pop stores won’t be able to own their own name.

Rhodes College will host Zoom webinars featuring responses of its faculty and special guests to COVID-19 on four successive Wednesdays at 7 PM:

The links posted above can be used to register for the webinars.

Backbeat Tours and Explore Bike Share are working together to produce a Memphis Bike Tour this afternoon at 1:30 as well as 1:30 Sunday and Monday. The 7 mile tour will cover the river parks, South Main, and the Lorraine Motel. Other than one hill, the course is relatively flat. $25 fee, age 16 and up.

Those of you who get to-go food or drinks from Bardog Tavern this weekend, post a photo of what you got to @bardogtavern and hashtag #BardogAtHome on Facebook or Instagram, and you’ll be entered to win a $25 gift card. The winner will be chosen Friday, June 5.

All of the Aldo businesses – Bardog, the two Slider Inns, and the two Aldo’s Pizza Pies – will be closed on Memorial Day.

There will be an Armed Forces Walking Tour at 1 PM and a Civil War walking tour of Elmwood Cemetery at 2:30 today. Space is highly limited due to social distancing requirements.

From Vox: Why are liberals more afraid of the coronavirus than conservatives? Interesting read no matter how far to the left or right you lean.

I was surfing RealClearPolitics yesterday and came across their no toss-ups map: How each state would vote if the election were held today. The 2016 critical states of Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin would flip back to blue, as would Ohio, Florida, and North Carolina. In addition, changing racial and age profiles would flip Arizona blue for the first time in many years, giving Biden a 352-186 victory. If that map is accurate (and I have to admit I have trouble believing Biden is ahead in Ohio and North Carolina), the Trumpster has his work cut out for him getting to 270 in November.

That’ll do it for now. Back tomorrow or later today with more news.

Friday update

A woman was seen peeing outside Waterford Plaza this week. If you’re not on Nextdoor, this is the kind of vital information you’re not seeing from your neighbors. Better join now!

Happy Friday, everyone! Today is the day when many of us will miss out on the experience of jetting out of the office early to mid-afternoon in anticipation of the long holiday weekend.

This next item, I’ll title, “Just because you can do something, doesn’t make it a good idea.”

I was shown a Facebook post where the person posting said “looks like… a reunion soon” (implying, this weekend) and tagged approximately 20 other people. About five more commented and said that they want to come too.

Now, the Phase 2 Back-to-Business rules allow purposeful gatherings of up to 49 people, so legally, there is nothing wrong with their plan. But is it smart? Will all the people in this meetup have masks on? (Mine’s in the washer as I type this.) Will they practice social distancing, refraining from hugs and handshakes among those not in their immediate household? Will they refrain from taking a big group photo, as they are known to do?

Furthermore, will they put restaurant and bar staff in the uncomfortable position of having to play social police? I had a discussion with a Downtown bartender last Saturday about how much they hate this. If they tell a crowd of 25 people they need to disperse, that affects their tips. On the other hand, they’re aware that Code Enforcement is actively out, even on weekends, ensuring that the rules are being obeyed. Shelby County Health Directive 4, issued Monday, lists parameters for specific services and businesses. Page 9 lists parameters for restaurants and limited-service restaurants (many of the businesses we think of as “bars” are licensed as limited-service restaurants), and says that groups should be limited to no more than six people. Those of you who go out, please follow these rules voluntarily, rather than putting it on staff to enforce them.

Dr. Bruce Randolph, Shelby County health officer, in yesterday’s COVID-19 task force press conference, flat-out said that what we do this weekend will play a large part in determining when we move to the next level, meaning Phase 3 and eventually beyond.

Delayed gratification is the name of the game. We can have the Redbirds and Memphis 901 FC back this summer. We can have Music Fest and BBQ Fest this fall. We can have a full season of TIger football. We can have Cher in concert at FedExForum in September. We can have Shinedown and Willie Nelson at the Orpheum this fall. We can have live music at restaurants. But all of these things depend upon us making smart decisions now.

On to the news… want to stock up on sweet treats for the holiday weekend? The Peanut Shoppe can help with that.

Robusto by Havana Mix, the Downtown cigar bar featured on the TV show Bar Rescue, has a unique opportunity for the right person: They are looking to hire a Humidor Specialist. They want someone passionate about cigars, tobacco, and accessories who loves people and has previous sales experience.

Ghost River has some specials going on this weekend in the taproom: 6-packs for 20% off, and 32-ounce Crowlers for $8.

From Max’s Sports Bar:

We’re back! Starting today at 4:30, we will be open for patio and courtyard seating (no seating inside).
Our new temporary hours will be
Sunday – Thursday 4:30-11:00
Friday 4:30-12:00
Saturday 11:00-12:00
See you guys soon!

Smart move by Max to enlist the great outdoors as his ally in re-opening. There is plenty of space to socially distance and he has TVs on the patio to watch sports, if any are on.

Got two pieces of food truck news. First of all, I found out more info about that 117 Prime food truck. It will be all over the city the next several days, serving Philly cheesesteaks as well as chicken and vegetarian versions.

Several times now I have posted about delicious Lockdown Lunches and Quarantine Cuisine dinners by MK, which she has been making from scratch and delivering during the house arrest and beyond. Yesterday I saw her post something about a food truck and I asked her, “There’s going to be a food truck?” and she replied “YES!” This is great news and I’ll post details as I learn of them.

The Blind Bear is the latest place to return seats – well, half of them, spaced out – to its bar. Socially Distant Perjorie was excited to get to hang out with her buddy Tre again.

Memphis and Arkansas State already have a home-and-home scheduled for 2020-2023, and now they’ve added another:

High Ground News recently spoke to Volunteer Odyssey on how to help during a pandemic.

Sad news for beer fans:

That’ll do it for this post. Back tomorrow or later today with more news.

Thursday update

The Daily Memphian has the info on the updated plans for the remodeling of Tom Lee Park. This proposal does more to connect the park to surrounding neighborhoods as well as other parks to the south and the promenade on the north. Construction will focus on those connections in the first half of 2021, allowing Music Fest and BBQ Fest to remain in Tom Lee in 2021, but they will have to move for a year in 2022.

Silly Goose has re-opened for dine-in, and Socially Distant Perjorie and I went down there for a PBR yesterday.

Up until yesterday, it had been open primarily for take-out. The barrel tables are back in the middle of the room, the TVs are back on, and seating with proper social distance has been restored to tables, the patio, and the bar.

Insider tip for you… when the Goose switched over to take-out during house arrest, they re-priced their pizzas at $10. So far they have not raised the prices back up yet. If you’ve been craving a wood-fired pizza, now’s the time to get one at a great price.

There won’t be a DJ this weekend, but Daniel is going to see if he can get a playlist from one of his DJs.

As your number-one source of news and information about The Edge District, it is my pleasure to report to you that Sun Studio has announced a June 1 re-opening date. Before that, they will post a COVID-19 protocol on their website that will be in place to keep staff and visitors safe.

Ghost River Brewing Co. has logo-themed functional headwear that can be used as a mask on sale in their taproom for only $5. The taproom is open (outdoor seating only, one person allowed inside at a time to order) Wednesday-Saturday 4-9.

Itta Bena, the restaurant atop B.B. King’s club at Second and Beale, is back open every night at 5 PM, serving their famous she-crab soup and their other favorites. Call 901-578-3031 or visit OpenTable for reservations.

Someone who works on Beale Street told me that establishments on the street can stay open until 11 now, adjusted from the previous closing time of 10 under the street’s re-opening plan.

Here’s a recipe to get you good ‘n hammered over the Memorial Day weekend: Long Island Iced Tea Pops

Former Grizzly Mike Conley continues to keep Memphis close to his heart, having recently made a donation to Code Crew, which will help supply Wi-Fi and laptops to help students with distance learning.

From the Orpheum:

All right let’s look at a few notes from yesterday’s press conference. Mayor Strickland and health department director Dr. Haushalter attended.

Memorial Day tips

Dr. Haushalter was asked a great question: With Memorial Day gatherings coming up this weekend, what advice could she offer to help people stay safe?

One of her big concerns about the spread of the virus was potlucks where many people touch a serving spoon. Haushalter recommended having one person in charge of serving the food, the spoon being touched by that person only, wearing gloves if possible.

Other tips Haushalter gave for weekend gatherings:

  • Use disposable utensils, plates, bottles
  • Wipe surfaces down frequently
  • Protect seniors, and help kids understand why they can’t be around their senior relatives right now
  • Outside events are better than inside
  • Don’t hesitate to cancel plans if you feel sick
  • Courtesy crews will continue to monitor parks over the weekend to educate visitors about social distancing

I’ll add one.

  • Don’t be afraid to be THAT WEIRDO who wears a face mask inside a bar – and if you hang out in the same bars as I do, I can promise you that you won’t be the only one. We aren’t in high school anymore, and the nerds are the cool kids in this case.

Stats!

The health department reported 127 new cases out of 1701 tested yesterday, a 7.5% positive rate (EDIT: Oops, looks like I got this number wrong. The Health Dept. website shows an even higher rate of 9.8%). That’s a higher positive rate than we have seen in a while. Dr. Haushalter pointed out that cases where the virus was transmitted by those who went out on Mother’s Day are starting to show up in the data.

She was asked at what positive rate would she become concerned enough to consider tightening some health regulations. Haushalter said if the positive rate went north of 10%, she would be concerned. She reminded everyone, however, that the positive rate is just one piece of a constellation of data the COVID-19 task force considers as a whole.

The duplication rate is the number of days it takes the number of cases of the virus to double within a community. When China and Italy were raging with the virus, the duplication rate was once every 5 days. Since the incubation period of COVID-19 is 14 days, this overwhelmed the hospital system in those nations. Shelby County is at once every 26 days. That is good, and we want to keep pushing that number farther and farther out to flatten the curve.

The replication rate, sometimes called R or “R-nought,” currently sits right around 1 for Shelby County. That’s down from a reported 1.14 last week. R represents the number of people infected by each person who has the virus, so a lower number is better. 1 or below 1 is ideal. Below 1 represents the point where the virus can’t find new hosts and starts to die out. Wearing masks, social distancing, and washing hands help lower the replication rate.

A look at the contact tracing course…

This isn’t from the press conference by the way, just an entertaining note on which to end this post. One of my Facebook friends took the online contact tracing course, I’m assuming the one offered by Johns Hopkins for free. She posted screen shots of workbook questions, which I will paraphrase here:

  1. A woman tests positive for the coronavirus. She tells you that she works as a bartender at a popular local nightclub, and she worked sick for a couple of nights before she came in for testing. What do you do?
  2. A married man tests positive for COVID-19, and his side chick tests positive too. His wife, of course, is one of his contacts who you have to inform. How do you handle this?

I may have to take a day off from going out this weekend and take that course, just for fun.

Back tomorrow, or later today if the need arises.

Wednesday update: Memphis in May to remain in Tom Lee Park in 2021

Yesterday’s Memphis/Shelby County daily COVID-19 task force press conference was an especially good one, and I want to recap a few points that are made. After that I’ll get on to the news, of which we have a pretty good amount today.

So, are we required to wear masks in public or not?

Shelby County Commissioner Tami Sawyer proposed an ordinance that would require county residents to wear masks when they go out in public until September 1, 2020. Dr. Jeff Warren introduced a similar proposal to city council.

Over the weekend county attorney Marlinee C. Iverson issued an opinion that local governments cannot require the wearing of masks; only the county health department can.

Based on that opinion, Commissioner Sawyer re-worded her proposal as a resolution asking the health department to require citizens to wear masks. That resolution passed in the Monday Commission meeting 8-5.

At yesterday’s press conference, Dr. Alisa Haushalter, county health department director, and Dr. Bruce Randolph, county health officer, were asked if the department would require those living in Memphis and Shelby County to wear masks.

For businesses, Dr. Randolph said, they would be required for employees to wear masks. Enforcement will be in place and people can email the county health department’s COVID-19 address to report violations.

For individuals who are visitors to, or customers of, those businesses, masks are recommended. They are strongly encouraged. The county commission’s resolution will push the health department to do all it can to educate the public on the benefits of wearing a mask.

Dr. Haushalter compared the education campaign to the one years ago about wearing seat belts. Seat belts were not universally adopted overnight, but gradually, more and more people strapped them on, and now, you rarely see anyone not wearing one.

For wearing of masks, Dr. Randolph said the health department prefers to stay with the language of “recommended”/”should” for individuals, and “required”/”must” for businesses. The department believes the public is capable of making good decisions when entering a business and determining if it is safe to be in there. However, the resolution does give the health department the power to move the language to “required”/”must” for individuals as well should less stringent measures not work.

Jobs!

The Shelby County Health Department intends to hire 141 positions, 60 of which will be contact tracers. The need for better contact tracing will be one of the requirements to enter Phase 3, which could be as soon as Monday, June 8, so the department will move aggressively to hire for these positions. They will only be open a week. Interviews will be conducted next week. They hope to have all of these positions filled in June, and as many as possible in early June. Job postings

Dr. Haushalter indicated that a facility has been identified to house the contact tracers, and that she believes a lease will be signed soon – so these positions will be on-site rather than work-from-home.

Who should apply? Dr. Haushalter said she would encourage people of all backgrounds, and the positions are not limited to those with particular training or past experiences. She thought the employees furloughed from ALSAC recently could be good fits for positions. She said these jobs might be good for the retired who want to come work for one or two more years. She said bilingual and multilingual are most definitely encouraged.

Dr. Haushalter also encouraged recent college graduates to apply. For those looking to get a foot in the door for a career in public health, this presents a great opportunity to get some very meaningful real-world experience.

(The next two links are mine, not ones recommended by the health department)

Of course, one of the ways to impress the interviewer is to show that you’ve done your homework, that you’ve taken the time to learn about the position and the knowledge that will be required. Johns Hopkins has a free 5-hour self-paced course on contact tracing that you can take from home. I bet doing that prior to the interviewer would impress the interviewer.

Here’s a review of the Johns Hopkins course. Note that contact tracing is as much about people skills as it is about the science. You have to use your wits to find alternate sources of contact information when the primary phone number doesn’t work. You also have to be a counselor of sorts, helping figure out how they will get through 14 days of quarantine.

What criteria are going to be used to determine when we can enter Phase 3?

Dr. Haushalter said they’d look for five things:

  • Social distancing, which she expects people will find harder to do during the warm months
  • Wearing masks while in public
  • More testing. Currently the city has under-utilized capacity. They have shown to be able to conduct over 2600 tests in a day, yet there was a recent day when not even 700 came in for testing. Haushalter encourages anyone who exhibits any of the symptoms of COVID-19 – fever, dry cough, loss of taste or smell, chills, muscle pain, difficulty breathing – to get tested, even if the symptoms are mild. She encourages essential workers to get tested, even if asymptomatic.
  • Isolating and quarantining those who are diagnosed, and those who have been in close contact with those diagnosed, for 14 days. This is why the contact tracer hires are critical.
  • Protection of vulnerable populations such as seniors and those with chronic illnesses.

When is it recommended that you wear a mask in public?

Haushalter: When in contact with anyone who is not a member of your immediate household.

If you go out for a hike in the woods by yourself, you don’t need a mask on. If you go out to walk your dog, you don’t need one. However, in either of those cases, if you stop to talk to someone, you should put your mask on.

Why did the health department approve the move to Phase 2 when usage of hospital beds was not at a flat or declining rate?

This has been the subject of much exasperation on social media. “THEY MADE UP THEIR OWN RULES AND NOW THEY’RE NOT EVEN FOLLOWING THEM!!!” complained the we-opened-too-soon crowd.

Dr. Haushalter said the hospital bed usage was studied over the weekend. It was found that the rise in ICU bed usage rose to 79% was not attributed to a rise in COVID-19 cases. When asked, “Given the current state, could the system absorb new COVID-19 patients?” the answer was a definite yes.

Health Directive 4

Read Health Directive 4, the document that translates the Phase 2 requirements into law.

How you can view the press conferences live

“Like” the City of Memphis page on Facebook and you should get notifications when the press conferences are about to begin, usually Monday-Friday at noon. If you can’t view them at noon, press conferences are archived so you can watch at a later time. Getting the facts directly from the people who make the decisions is SO much better than reading interpretations of the decisions on social media. It allows you to form your own opinion rather than adopt the opinions of others.

On to the news…

First of all, the big news. It was announced yesterday that Memphis in May will return to Tom Lee Park in 2021, reversing previous reports that Music Fest and BBQ Fest would have to move to another location for a year. Memphis in May received the news that any development on Tom Lee Park will happen outside the grounds until after May 2021, so the festivals can move forward. The dates:

  • Music Fest: April 30-May 2, 2021
  • BBQ Fest: May 12-15, 2021
  • Great American River Run: May 29, 2021

Comeback Coffee at 358 N. Main has been open for about a week now with online ordering. My apologies for not reporting this sooner… for some reason I had not “Liked” their Facebook page!

They are open 8 AM to 3 PM for curbside pickup, with breakfast, pastries, and their drinks available all day, and lunch from 10:30 onward. You can call them at 901-860-4215 or visit their online store to place your order. When you pull up and park outside, call them and they will get you taken care of. At the current time they are not allowing dine-in.

Jeannette wants everyone to know that the Blind Bear’s pool table will be back. It has just been temporarily moved while improvements are made to that part of the restaurant. She posted a poll asking “keep the pool table or not?” and the vote was overwhelmingly in favor of keeping it.

This week New Wing Order will offer 8 oz. and 16 oz. tubs of their Buffalo chicken spread.

The spread goes well on sandwiches or crackers, or just by itself. Catch the New Wing Order food truck tonight at Cordelia’s Market on Mud Island 5-8 PM.

More great food on Mud Island: Garibaldi’s Pizza will deliver to the Island Thursday, May 21 between 5 and 6 PM. They’ll have their family pasta packs, pizzas, salads, and more. Call 901-763-4111 no later than today (Wednesday) to place your order. All orders will be prepaid at the time you call.

Walking Pants Curiosities has some new quarantine-themed hats such as

  • “6 Feet Plz”
  • “Social Distance Yourself”
  • “I’ll Bring the Essentials”
  • “Not Today Corona”
  • “I Am Freaking Essential”
  • “Essential as a Mother”

The Downtown Walgreens now has reusable, washable cloth masks as well as single-use paper ones. They’re above the cigarettes behind the counter. Also I received a tip that early Tuesday morning is the time to go there (they open at 7) if you need wipes.

Get ready for Virtual Art Chat with My Memphis View, coming to you six Wednesdays in a row at 6 PM beginning next Wednesday, May 27. Sponsored by the Downtown Memphis Commission and hosted by Mary Ellen Kelly of My Memphis View Art, each week a tour of a different Memphis gallery will be live-streamed on the Downtown Memphis Instagram page. Learn more

Pringles is introducing a new flavor that tastes like buttered corn on the cob.

Lightclub Memphis is taking a break from its weekly DJ sets on Twitch. You can view all of the 2020 livestreams on YouTube.

Jennifer Oswalt who runs DMC appears on this week’s Daily Memphian Extra Podcast to discuss what’s next in billions of dollars in Downtown development.

From the Memphis Flyer: A $2.5 County Commission allocation for MATA will fund three new projects, one of which will affect Downtown’s entertainment district. Many employees in this district have shifts that end long after regular bus routes stop running; therefore, a demand-response system will be implemented allowing those employees to call in and get a ride home.

Yo Gotti & Friends Birthday Bash 8 at FedExForum has been postponed from its planned date of June 19. All tickets sold will be honored for the rescheduled date.

Elmwood Cemetery will host a Zoom edition of its Death Cafe Sunday, June 7 at 2 PM. Death Cafe is a group directed discussion of death with no agenda. It’s not intended as a grief recovery group, but rather an open discussion of a topic which society in many cases considers taboo to talk about.

Trolls don’t understand social distancing:

Long post today! I’m going to watch today’s COVID-19 task force press conference then get out and enjoy another beautiful day. The forecast is for a high of 75 with north wind at 6 miles an hour and a 10% chance of rain. Can’t beat that! Back tomorrow, or later today if anything big comes up.

Tue update #3: Shelby Co. Health Dept. hiring 141, including 60 contact tracers

This is going to be real quick.

Open jobs

All candidates encouraged to apply regardless of background for the contact tracer positions. Will say more on the blog tomorrow.

There is a free 5-hour Johns Hopkins course on contact tracing. It is not required, but I bet it would impress an interviewer. Read a review from someone who took the course.

Back tomorrow with more details from today’s COVID-19 press conference and other news.

Tue update #2: A look at the coronavirus numbers for today and how they could be interpreted

From the Daily Memphian’s May 19 coronavirus blog:

The Shelby County Health Department reported 116 new cases of coronavirus Tuesday for a total of 3,877 cases during the pandemic. The increase is the largest since April 18.

Shelby County said 2,615 people were tested an increase of 1,927 from the day prior. The number of tests surpasses Shelby County’s goal of 2,400 tests per day. The daily positivity rate Monday was 4.4%.

Bet we see tweets/Facebook posts like:

“2615 people were tested in one day! That is the largest number of tests in one day yet! And it exceeds the health department’s goal of 2400! WHAT WERE THEY THINKING, lengthening Phase 2 to 21 days? WE’RE READY TO FULLY RE-OPEN EVERYTHING NOW!”

“Over a hundred new cases! The most we’ve seen in one day in over a month! WHAT WERE THEY THINKING, re-opening so soon? If we had stayed in quarantine until the end of May, THIS WOULD HAVE NEVER HAPPENED!”

“4.4% postivity rate? Hasn’t the average been around seven, eight percent? WHAT ARE PEOPLE THINKING, suggesting that wearing masks will make a difference? We’re doing perfectly well without them!”

“4.4% positivity rate? Weren’t we at 2.7% a few days ago? Here comes that surge we’ve all known was on the way! WHAT ARE PEOPLE THINKING, going out in public without a mask on?”

(Extra credit: Add bashing of your least favorite politician, or of Republicans or Democrats in general, to any of the above)

Tuesday update: Restaurants can have bar seating now

This morning I noticed a change in the Back-to-Business sector-specific guidelines concerning Phase 2 of re-opening, which Memphis and Shelby County entered yesterday.

For restaurants:

Same as previous phase, but bar areas may be open for seating so long as social distancing protocols are followed. There should be no standing at the bar.

Although the mayors and health officials loosened the Phase 2 guidelines in that respect (and it is MUCH APPRECIATED), they tightened the guidelines in another. Phase 2 will last a minimum of 21 days rather than the previously-published 14. The reason why, County Mayor Harris explained, is that Phase 3 allows large gatherings of up to 250 people, and the task force felt extra caution needed to be taken before deciding to enter that phase.

I’m not sure if the task force intended this, but the 21-day period offers an additional advantage: It will let us see if new cases where the virus is spread over Memorial Day weekend are a cause for concern. Memorial Day weekend is May 23-25. The earliest the task force could consider moving to Phase 3 would be June 8. The virus has about a 14-day incubation period.

A lot more people offer criticism on social media than praise, and the task force committee got plenty of criticism yesterday on social media. It came from both the “moving way too fast” and “moving way too slow” schools of thought. I want to offer some praise: I think the task force is doing just about as close as PERFECT as they can get, given the available data and the pressures to save both lives and businesses/jobs.

Once again, I will use the analogy that life is like a game of poker, in that you have to make decisions based on an incomplete amount of information. Also, there’s a random factor that can be mitigated to a degree, but never controlled. I’ll make the following two observations that apply to both life and poker:

  1. You can’t sit there and do nothing until you have the perfect starting point; if you do, you’ll miss out on way too many opportunities.
  2. Sometimes you get an undesirable outcome, and all you can do is look back and ask yourself if you made the best possible decision based on the information that was available at the time.

During the extended 21-day Phase 2, the Health Department has plans to hire more than 100 people and create a dedicated pandemic unit. Mayor Harris plans for an increase in testing at 201 Poplar during that time period.

Aldo’s Pizza Pies (Downtown location) is hiring. “Motivated team players in the food industry” are invited to apply. Great company to work for.

Cousin’s Maine Lobster is offering an at-home lobster roll kit. The national HQ announced the kit would be available at all their food trucks, and I assume that includes Memphis.

Buddy Albert Nemenz of the band Almost Famous will be the special guest during this week’s Silky O’ Sullivan’s virtual happy hour today from 5 to 6. Venmo @BuddyAlbert to tip him and to request a song. Here’s a look back at his virtual happy hour from a few weeks ago:

Raymond James is upping the stakes against its 50 N. Front landlord, seeking approval to file a second lawsuit. The original lawsuit, filed two years ago, cited issues with elevators and windows. A federal magistrate recommended that lawsuit for dismissal in February of this year. The magistrate found that at least one of the building’s eight elevators was always working. Wow. One out of eight is not very good. Then again, if that was the minimum specified in the contract, it’s Raymond James’ fault for not requesting a higher minimum.

The DM’s Chris Herrington believe ordinances requiring masks could do more harm than good. Herrington notes that while he sympathizes with the idea, enforcement would be problematic. He also points out that masks have become an unfortunate political symbol, and wearing one can cause total strangers to judge you (I, by the way, experienced this myself Saturday).

I have such mixed feelings about requiring masks. I liken the requirement to wear masks to the law outlawing texting while driving – it’s not about the person affected by the law, it’s about the safety of those in the proximity of that person.

The Daily Memphian will live stream the revised Memphis River Parks Partnership proposal for Tom Lee Park tomorrow, Wednesday, May 20, at 3:30 PM. Quite frankly I’m glad this will give people on social media something to argue about other than COVID-19. The new design will not affect BBQ Fest (September 30 to October 3) or Music Fest (October 16-18) this year but the events will have to be moved to 2021.

Our Yoga Downtown happens tonight at 6. Currently the class remains virtual. It’s free and all-levels. YOGA!

Governor Bill Lee was in the Edge District yesterday, touring the new COVID-19 overflow facility in the former CA building at 495 Union. Ideally the building will never have to be used, but it’s great insurance to have in case of a surge.

There will be a live streaming show of Jhene Aiko at the Orpheum tonight from 8 to 11.

For those who are Civil War history fans, the DM’s Michael Nelson has a piece on the siege of Corinth today.

First United Methodist resumes its burrito ministry today and is looking for volunteers. They plan on making burritos and setting up a hand-washing station at 4, then serving guests at 5 while observing proper distancing and sanitary procedures.

Dylan at the Silly Goose is working on something new… he had me sample a piece of chicken yesterday, tender and juicy and described as “the oyster” of the chicken, cooked in a sauce he made with hot peppers he had on hand. All who tried it agreed the chicken would be tasty on a wood-fired pizza. If the idea turns into something I’ll make sure to post it.

High in the low 70s and a pleasant northwest wind… be sure to get outside today if you have a chance. We probably won’t see another day like this until late September. Back tomorrow with more news, or later today if anything big comes up.

Monday update #2: Phase 2 re-opening begins

The mayors and health department have announced the beginning of Phase 2 of the Back-to-Business Framework for Memphis and Shelby County. The roll into Phase 2 follows 14 days of flat or declining numbers of new coronavirus cases.

  • Spas and tattoo parlors can open at 50% capacity
  • Non-contact sports facilities that have dining rooms can open them at 50% capacity
  • Gyms and libraries can expand from 25% to 50% capacity
  • Purposeful gatherings of less than 50 people now allowed (previous limit 10)

Everything else that was open under Phase 1, stays open under the same guidelines.

A small business owner Downtown posted this and it’s worth a repost:

River City Pedalers, one of the party pedal bike companies, posted that the city won’t allow them to open until Phase 3. The city really needs to be careful with those. Riders could sit every other bike seat to maintain 6 feet of distance, but the trouble is, the bikes make stops at bars so riders can buy shots. That produces scenarios where the bike riders crowd 16 people into a 3- to 4-foot space to order; there is no way the captains of the pedal bikes nor the people who work at the bars could get the riders to maintain space.

The New Wing Order food truck’s schedule for the week includes a stop Downtown, at Cordelia’s Market 5-8 Wednesday.

Video tour of the new overflow facility at 495 Union, the former CA building converted into a COVID-19 hospital:

College football news: COVID-19 athletic department budget cutbacks at Power 5 schools could spell the end of buy games, where a big-name university pays a lesser-known institution to play a game at the big-name team’s stadium, with the smaller school getting an appearance fee well into six figures and in some cases seven. These games make up a huge chunk of smaller schools’ athletic revenue. The most well-known buy game in recent times happened in August 2019, when the Tennessee Vols paid Georgia State almost a million dollars to come to Neyland Stadium and beat them.

Tennessee’s free cloth masks were tested for effectiveness and were found to be nearly as effective as surgical masks.

FiveThirtyEight looks at a real-life situation that illustrates the challenges of the 2020 pandemic: What do you do when you’re a first-time landlord who needs rent money to pay the mortgage, but your tenants are broke?

Back tomorrow with more.

Monday update

There were reports of traffic violations Downtown on Nextdoor Saturday. These included

  • A video of cars doing donuts near Marmalade Lounge near G.E. Patterson and St. Martin
  • A report of a car doing donuts at Vance and Danny Thomas
  • A driver reported nearly being hit head-on as several cars weaved in and out of lanes on G.E. Patterson and ran the light at B.B. King Blvd.

The frustrating thing is, MPD is often so slow to respond that the racers leave the area. Also frustrating is that police are not required to do anything if there is not a victim on the scene who wants to file a report.

FreeWorld has announced there will be a drive-by party to celebrate the 90th birthday of saxophonist Dr. Herman Green Wednesday, May 27 from 5:30 to 7:30 PM. It’s a shame it can’t be at the Blues City Band Box as usual, but it’s a way to let Dr. Green that he’s loved and appreciated on his special day.

Taking it to the Streets: Edible Memphis has a look at the effect of “off-premise” beer, wine and liquor sales by restaurants, allowed by an executive order that expires May 29. In the article, managers discuss how alcohol sales have propped up restaurants and allowed them to retain more staff on payroll.

Another prominent Memphis attraction is set to re-open:

Rachel’s Salon and Day Spa re-opens today. They have implemented distancing measures including styling stations that are spaced 8 to 10 feet apart. For customers who are at high risk of COVID-19, they have converted one of their massage rooms into a private styling room.

I’ll probably wait a week or two before trying to make an appointment… let all the ladies who get haven’t had their hair done in two months or longer get in there first.

It looks like two proposed ordinances to require the use of face masks in public, one in the City Council and the other in the County Commission, maybe be dead in the water. Shelby County Attorney Marlinee C. Iverson (hey, I went to college with her!) said that according to the governor’s Executive Order 30, local governments can’t require use of masks – only the health department can.

So, will the health department do so? In Friday’s press conference, there was a question about this. Dr. Haushalter said that while she strongly recommends the wearing of masks, requiring them is perhaps inviting unwanted conflict. Other cities have experienced protests and even threats of violence over mask requirements.

Quarantine cuisine

Last week I decided to venture out and pick up some cuisine from one of my favorite chefs… and since PBR has returned as a factor in my daily spending, I decided Boy-ar-dee would be the chef so I could conserve funds. I made the short walk down the street to Family Dollar.

Blast it all, they were out of spaghetti & meatballs and beef ravioli, my two favorites from that brand. I looked around to see what my other options were. Near the end of the canned food aisle I saw something I had never seen before in my life: Canned boiled peanuts.

Color me intrigued… when I worked in Horn Lake, I’d bought hot boiled peanuts at the gas station, but I didn’t know you could buy peanuts in a can and heat them up at home.

A look at the back of the can confirmed that these peanuts could be heated up in the microwave.

I figured, these would probably not be any good, and I felt guilty for cheating on my friends at The Peanut Shoppe up the street, but curiosity got the best of me and I walked a can up to the register. I figured, for the price of a dollar I wouldn’t mind too much if this turned out to be a failed experiment.

Yesterday I opened the can and dumped the peanuts, in their brine, into a microwave bowl, covered it, and heated it for 1:45. This is what came out:

They were messy to eat, but I have to admit they were tastier than I expected for the price. I can’t believe I’ve never seen brined peanuts in a can before at a grocery store – even in Earle, Arkansas where I worked for two and a half years. Am I the only one who’s missed out on this experience?

Check back…

I’m fairly sure there will be a second post between 12:30 and 1 today. I will be back tomorrow if not then.