Friday update

The NBA restart got off to a beautiful beginning last night as the Utah Jazz came from as many as 16 down to hand the New Orleans Pelicans a 106-104 loss. Why so beautiful? It means that now, Zion Williamson and the Pels have 7 games left to make up 4 games in the standings, where previously they had 8 games left to make up 3.5.

The Grizzlies play the Portland Trail Blazers at 3 on NBATV in their first of 8 seeding games. The Blazers are another team chasing the Grizz by 3.5 games, so shutting down Dame Time this afternoon would be a big step toward the playoffs.

Another game of note: Sacramento Kings vs. San Antonio Spurs, the other two teams chasing Memphis, at 7 tonight (no national TV). The Kings are 3.5 back and the Spurs are 4 back, so I guess rooting for San Antonio is the thing to do if you don’t have any other preference.

As expected, the judge in the second case brought by limited service restaurants, including Downtown venues Blind Bear, Silly Goose, and Max’s Sports Bar, and Midtown venue Alchemy, ruled against the restaurants. The restaurants sought a temporary restraining order to allow them to reopen in spite of Shelby County Health Directive No. 8. U.S. District Judge John T. Fowlkes, Jr. wrote, “As sympathetic as the Court is with Plaintiffs and other businesses adversely affected by COVID-19, sympathy cannot play a role in determining the legality of Health Order No. 8.” So, these businesses are closed indefinitely. With the positivity rate way above 10% and the number of new cases a day approaching 400, it could be months before the bars are allowed to reopen. All four of the places I named here are small, local businesses and may not survive, despite years of past success.

Following the ruling, Max posted:

Due to the Federal Ruling against us concerning the recent Health Department directives that shut down our dining room, we will be ceasing all operations after Saturday. Unfortunately, togo business is not sufficient enough keep the doors open as we compete with the other 97% of the county restaurants and bars still offering on-site dining. With no bench marked goal/data as to why we were shut down, we can only assume this does not exist for our reopening either. That said, we hope to open our doors for you again, let’s just hope we are allowed to before it really is too late.
You all have been unbelievably supportive through these last few months and the entire Max’s family truly can’t begin to show you our appreciation. If you can, swing by over the next few days and say hi/bye to the guys. Plus, all beer and slushies will be 50% off open to close!

The shuttering of all the bars makes their surrounding neighborhoods less vibrant, but the loss of Max’s Sports Bar, whether temporary or permanent, will be especially devastating for South Main. That bar became a hub for the community almost as soon as it opened 13 years ago.

Just think what Max must pay per month in TV digital boxes alone… imagine having to pay that while no one is watching sports. I think he has a total of 14 TVs, counting the outside ones.

To all those displaced by the closings of Health Directive No. 8, let me repeat what I said back in March… if there’s any way I can use my social media presence to help you in these difficult times, reach out to me at or on social media. Whether it’s posting photos of yummy to-go food you’re selling or helping you circulate a resume around, I’m happy to do it.

Also, if you just need a sympathetic voice to talk to, reach out. 15 months ago I was in such a bleak financial position that life didn’t seem worth living. I know how it feels. Please talk to someone if you have any thoughts of a permanent ending to these rough times which are temporary.

Cheers to MLGW for doing the right thing:

One more reminder that the Tennessee sales tax holiday is under way! Through 11:59 PM Sunday, purchase clothing up to $200 or computer equipment up to $3000 and pay no sales tax. Note that televisions and video game consoles are considered “computers & other electronics” for these purposes.

Oskar Blues Brewing Co. and French’s mustard are collaborating on a mustard-flavored beer.

The conservative movement lost one of its icons of the past decade as Herman Cain passed away this week. The 2012 candidate for the Republican presidential nomination was well-known for breaking conservative principles down into sound bites that could be easily processed by the smartphone generation, such as his “9-9-9” tax plan. Here’s a timeline of the 74-year-old Cain’s final days:

  • June 20: Attended President Trump’s campaign rally in Tulsa. Cain did not wear a mask or social distance from other attendees.
  • June 29: Cain tested positive for COVID-19. Patients typically become symptomatic in the 7th to 10th day following transmission.
  • July 24: Reports came out that Cain was still suffering from COVID-19 on his 25th day for testing positive. Typical incubation period from the virus is 14 days. It was reported that Cain’s body was starting to fail due to the stress of fighting the illness
  • July 30: Cain passed away, 31 days after the positive test

Iron Tribe Fitness is coming Downtown. The franchise’s third Memphis location will be inside the old Gibson guitar factory, in the new FedEx Logistics headquarters. Construction should be done this fall. Iron Tribe offers high intensity training in a small group setting. Their workouts target many muscle groups and involve cardio training as well.

Loflin Yard has switched to an all-table service model, in compliance with Health Directive No. 9 foisting further regulations on the restaurants that were allowed to remain open.

And now it’s time for what you’ve all been waiting for… a recap of yesterday’s COVID-19 task force press conference. Presenting were Dr. Alisa Haushalter, Shelby County Health Department director, and Dr. Jon McCullers, Pediatrician-in-Chief at LeBonheur, and professor & chair UTHSC Department of Pediatrics.

Dr. Haushalter expects the “tripwires” document to be ready by the end of today. This document will specify additional regulations to be automatically applied if certain thresholds related to COVID-19 are hit.

Dr. McCullers was asked about kids returning to school in person. He admitted right now, we have no good answers. In some cases, virtual learning makes more sense, for example if a child lives with an elderly (and thus at high risk) grandparent. On the other hand, in-person learning benefits other household situations, such as one where the parent can’t afford child care during the day, or where the child needs school meals for nutrition.

A Back to School task force was formed at LeBonheur a few weeks ago. They look at four areas:

  • Communication: How to talk to schools, and to parents
  • Policies and procedures in written form
  • Infection prevention
  • The kids themselves: What about ones who are medically fragile? Special needs kids?

Read the school task force recommendations

The DM’s Omer Yusuf asked about yesterday’s positivity rate, a devastating 53.4% on a low number of tests, wanting to know if we could expect to see more of that. Haushalter responded that the tests are coming back at various intervals in terms of days. It’s more important to look at the 7-day rolling average and also the date the tests were sent to the labs.

Haushalter did say that the weekly positivity rate was a little above 14%. While that is still concerningly high, it’s down a little from the 16% we saw last week.

Yusuf then asked the medical officials where they stand on high school sports. Haushalter gave a typically political response, and McCullers parroted it. However, Dr. Mc then said that was his answer speaking as a member of the task force. Speaking as a pediatrician, it is not safe to let contact sports return due to community spread.

Haushalter said she would be willing to meet with full-service restaurant owners to hear their concerns as listed in a letter they sent her this week. Ultimately, she said, the goal is to reduce transmission with as limited an impact on the economy as possible.

WMC’s Kendall Downing asked if we were still doing phases of reopening, and if we could expect to ever get to Phase 3. Haushalter said they are staying consistent with national guidelines as much as possible. We will remain in a highly tailored version of Phase 2 for some time to come. Again, she advised to read the latest health directive.

Dr. H was asked if she had heard about folk remedies for COVID-19 being used in the Latino community. She had not but said she’d look into it.

Sam Hardeman from the CA asked about the number of contact tracers. Dr. H said it wasn’t just that – they also had needs for surveillance, epidemeology, community outreach, and education. If you’re looking for a career in public health, this remains an excellent time to jump in, a chance to get experience you’ll (hopefully) never be able to get again in your lifetime.

That’s it for today. Go Grizzlies! I’ll be back tomorrow with more news.