Tue update #2 – Shelby County COVID-19 task force press conference

Dr. Bruce Randolph, Shelby County Health Officer, led off by saying we’ve seen a little improvement in recent days, as positivity rates have leveled off and actually decreased a little. The amount of time it takes for the number of cases to double has increased from 26 days in early July to 30 days now.

Dr. Randolph brought up Gabby Dowdy, a public health student at the University of Memphis. She and her group conducted a masking study and were there to present their findings. They counted the number of individuals wearing masks in large retail locations and on video footage provided by the MPD Real-Time Crime Center. They found that indoors, masking had gone up from 51% pre-ordinance to 92% post-. They offered the following guidance:

  • Ensure correct mask usage, meaning both nose and mouth covered, Recommended commercials and Internet ads as reminders.
  • Recommended education for 2-18 year olds who had lower compliance. Ads on platforms they use like TikTok.
  • Make observations at smaller retail stores, gas stations. Help people understand even if they run inside a place to pick up to-go food, they need to have a mask on.

Shelby County Mayor Lee Harris was up next. He said that although we are seeing improvements in some measurements, the number of confirmed cases is still high, and that things may darken before they get better.

Q&A started, and Dr. Randolph reminded everyone that although we’re seeing big improvement in masking, we cannot forget to give six feet of distance and avoid large crowds.

In response to a statement that he’d like to see more statewide action taken, Mayor Harris said there is little the Shelby County Health Department is precluded from doing, but they will be unable to bend the curve down to 0 due to border issues. True; I have had friends who have gone out drinking in West Memphis since the bars closed here. I also see Facebook posts from Memphians drinking in North Mississippi.

Mayor Harris was asked if there are updates on when the “trip wire” document will be ready. Harris said measures are already in place, and to look to Health Directive No., 10 see that. Trip wires are just an additional precaution. Dr. Randolph said the document is being finalized and should be ready sometime this week.

Dr. Randolph: Whether you are a school official or employer, when someone in your facility tests positive, you need to inform the Health Department. Also, you need to inform the Department who might have come in contact with the infected person. That will save the Department several days’ time contact tracing, and help ensure that people who may also be infected are not out walking around transmitting the disease to others.

Randolph said we are starting to see lab turnarounds of 3 days in some cases, where it was 5-7 days or longer a week ago. 24 hours or less is still ideal though.

In a closing statement, Mayor Harris reminded everyone to wear their masks, covering their nose and mouth – not on their chin, not hanging from their ear.

Back in the morning with more news.